This 40in Sony TV has beaten all its competition into a cocked hat.
The fact that it’s so good and so new also explains why it’s so expensive. Sony’s price on its website (rarely the place to go for a bargain) is £1,299 – one you’ll struggle to better from any reputable dealer. This could change over the next few months as other rival models (perhaps even those from Sony, such is the turbulent state of the big-screen arena) try to knock it from its pedestal.
Nevertheless, this is still a highly desirable television, offering the kind of picture quality that makes even £1,200 something of a steal.
What’s on the menu?
New to Sony’s range are the slightly glittery ‘midnight sky’ finish and a badge that glows seductively. The real improvements, though, are under the skin: PS3-style menus look great and are a doddle to use, and allow you to switch directly from an external source to a specific Freeview channel.
The Sony’s Freeview performance is top-notch. High-quality broadcasts are vibrant, and only poor-quality channels suffer a touch of noise, which we figure is due to this set’s revealing nature, in the same way as some high-end hi-fi will bring out the worst in poor recordings.
It’s also worth noting that the Sony’s out-of-the-box settings are surprisingly sensible, with only fine tuning necessary to get the best from it.
Colours are calling
And this TV’s best is truly exceptional. An animated Blu-ray such as Cars is simply gorgeous, with the Sony offering the punchiest colours and sharpest edges of any 40in set we’ve ever tested. Leaving the backlight set to about halfway provides brilliant, bright whites, without sacrificing the black levels. Handling of 24fps motion is, perhaps unsurprising given the spec, spot on.
A spin of creepy Spanish thriller The Orphanage on DVD shows how accomplished this set is with dark scenes and natural colours even with standard-def material. True, some plasmas will do deeper blacks and greater contrast, but this LCD has detail to die for and superbly realistic images.
Test-favourite Training Day on DVD is presented with a really natural colour balance, loads of insight and great stability. A couple of rivals come close to the Sony, but none have its poise.
Pleasingly, the Sony’s performance is rounded-out by a sonic delivery that’s impressive by flatscreen standards, being direct and involving. This only adds to this 40in Sony’s already impressive wow factor. Buy one! Buy one now!