With eco-friendliness all the rage at present, now seems the perfect time for Sony to launch its first determinedly 'green' TV, the 40-inch Bravia KDL-40WE5. Unlike numerous supposedly eco-friendly rivals, the £1,000 40WE5 does much more than merely pay lip service to the idea that you can save the planet -- and reduce your bills -- while you're watching telly.
The 40WE5 really goes the extra mile in its efforts to reduce power consumption. Particularly innovative is its use of a new backlight system, which replaces the usual cold cathode fluorescent lamp with a hot one. It's chiefly thanks to this, we suspect, that we found the 40WE5 regularly running at under 100W -- less than half the energy consumed by an average 40-inch TV.
Also breaking new green ground is the 40WE5's 'presence sensor'. This looks for motion and body heat in your room, and, if it doesn't detect any, turns off the screen to save energy, keeping just the audio running. The system works better than you might expect.
The 40WE5 also sports other eco-friendly features of the sort now common on most flat TVs, such as an 'eco' preset that optimises the picture settings for power efficiency, and a light sensor system that adjusts the image's brightness depending on ambient light levels. But it's the hot-cathode-fluorescent-lamp backlight and presence sensor that really help the 40WE5 stand out from the tree-hugging pack.
The 40WE5 houses its planet-saving talents inside a very attractive chassis that's a distinctive and suitably pure-looking gloss white, rather than the gloomy black still rife in the TV world.
It's a formidably connected beast as well, with four HDMI ports, a USB port for playback of various multimedia file formats (including video), and a DLNA-certified Ethernet jack. The latter can be used to stream files stored on a connected PC, but it also does duty as an online portal, allowing you to access Sony's AppliCast online services.
As exciting as this sounds though, the reality of AppliCast is rather disappointing. There's much less content available than you get with the online TV systems now offered by Philips, Panasonic and Samsung.
When it comes to picture quality, the 40WE5 is pitched at the same high level as Sony's Bravia KDL-40W5500, meaning that it boasts, among other things, a 1080p resolution, a claimed contrast ratio of 100,000:1, Sony's latest multi-faceted Bravia Engine 3 video-processing system, and Motionflow 100Hz for improving motion clarity.