Sony KDL-47W805 review: Sony KDL-47W805

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The Good Clever circular stand; Easy mirroring of smart phones via NFC; Decent lineup of smart TV apps; Strong 3D performance; Good standard-definition upscaling.

The Bad Pricey; TV interface is relatively poor; Black levels could be deeper.

The Bottom Line The KDL-47W805A delivers good pictures in brighter rooms and has very good standard-definition upscaling. Its mediocre black levels means it's not a great choice for evening movie viewing, however. It's also a tad expensive and its smart TV system lags Samsung's.

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7.5 Overall

The KDL-47W805 occupies the second rung of Sony's range of Full HD LED TVs, sitting just underneath the W905A models. There's quite a difference between the two sets though, as this model uses passive rather than active 3D and doesn't have the W905A's Triluminos colour technology. Nevertheless, priced at £1,000, it's around £500 cheaper than its more illustrious sibling.

User interface and EPG

For this year's TVs, Sony has ditched the old and somewhat awkward XrossMediaBar and replaced it with a new menu system that feels more like the user interface on Microsoft's Windows Phones, thanks to its use of stylised text lists and chunky graphical tiles.

It's relatively easy to use. The home menu shows a text list of options and as you select each of these a row of tiles rotates into view beneath. You can then scroll left and right to select the feature or setting you want to get at. The only slight issue is that the menu system can at times feel sluggish, especially compared to the menus on Samsung's current high-end models, which are presumably powered by speedier processors.

Sony KDL-40W905A TV guide
The native Freeview EPG is very good, but the secondary, Internet-based EPG is too slow to use.

Sony now also gives you the choice of using two different electronic programme guides (EPGs), although the company hasn't exactly explained this very well or made it easy to switch. You actually have to delve quite deeply into the settings menu to find the option that toggles between the two.

The default guide is the standard Freeview EPG. This is excellent -- it's fast, with a clean layout, and includes a programme description box as well as a video thumbnail of the channel you're currently tuned too.

The secondary guide draws its information from the Gracenotes Internet database rather than over the air. This allows it to show lots of flashy extras, including pictures for upcoming shows, as well as information on actors in TV shows or movies.

Admittedly it looks visually appealing, but it's very slow to load. So slow, in fact, that I wouldn't want to use it on a daily basis, especially as it's also sluggish at loading in data as you move around channels in the guide.

Digital media and Internet features

The W805A's overall menu system is an improvement over what appeared on Sony's older tellies, but the interface for its smart TV system has definitely taken a backwards step. While others, such as Samsung and Panasonic, have added new and useful features to their Web-connected systems, Sony has instead stripped down its offering.

The main problem is that when you open the smart TV menu it just lists all of the available apps on a single screen. There's currently no way to group apps together into categories or customise their order to place your most used ones higher up in the list.

Sony does allow you to add apps to your favourites list, so they then appear in the main menu. However, this is a single line of icons and you can't remove some of the existing icons in the list, such as Sony's own Video Unlimited service. As a result, if you've got quite a few apps in here it can become ungainly.

Sony KDL-40W905A TV smart TV
Sony has dumped all the smart TV apps together in a single, flat menu.

The system does have a decent lineup of video services, which is the most important thing. As well as the Beeb's iPlayer, it also supports Demand 5, Netflix and Lovefilm. You can also rent new movies via Sony's own Video Unlimited service or watch music videos using the MuZu TV app. Unlike Samsung's TVs, it doesn't have apps for ITV Player or 4oD, sadly.

The company has also finally updated its media player so it supports the popular MKV format, as well as other file types such as Xvid, MP4 and DivX. It happily plays these files either locally from a USB drive or over a network from a PC or networked hard drive, and unlike recent Samsung and LG TVs, the fast forward and rewind controls do wok properly when you're streaming files over Ethernet or Wi-Fi.

Design and connections

The W805A looks very similar to the W905A that I reviewed recently. It has a much lighter and more airy design than the older HX853 and so looks less imposing in your living room.

One of the signatures of the new look is the clever circular, chrome stand -- when you swivel the TV it retains its uniform look, no matter which angle the TV has been shifted to.

Compared to last year's models, Sony has slimmed down the bezel too, and this helps the TV look much more contemporary, even if it's still not quite as slim as those on recent LG and Samsung models.

There are still some elements of the design I'm not keen on, such as the overly large rectangular box that juts down from the bottom of the set and the showy turquoise trim on the bevelled edge of the bezel.

Sony KDL-40W905A TV stand
The circular stand looks stylish, but the box at the bottom of the display is out of proportion to the rest of the TV.

As is the fashion at the moment among high-end TVs, the W805A is supplied with two remote controls. The first one is the standard larger sized remote, which is overly boxy, but has a good button layout. The second is a much smaller and thinner Bluetooth remote with a pared-down line-up of buttons. There are no numerical keys, for example.

This remote also has an NFC sensor -- if you hold one of Sony's new Xperia phones up to it, it'll pair with the set to allow you to mirror what's on the phone's screen to the TV. Neither remote is backlit, though, which is a bit of an oversight on Sony's part.

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