The KDL-46HX853 arrives at a time when Sony really, really needs to start getting its TV business back on track. And right away it feels like it's heading in the right direction, with a slimmer, sleeker variation on its Monolith design theme that suggests Sony has really started to think about what consumers want rather than just going with something they think looks distinctive.
Its feature count is impressive too in terms of the picture calibration tools on offer, the amount of video content available through the online system, and the extent of the multimedia flexibility.
Where the KDL-46HX853 really sets the world on fire, though, is with its barn-storming, cutting edge picture quality which, in 2D mode at least, is the best the LCD TV world has delivered so far.
The KDL-46HX853 takes LCD picture quality to a whole new level, particularly where contrast and motion handling are concerned. The set looks gorgeous too, and features what's for our money the best - or at least the most sensibly focussed - online service around. Plus it's great value for what's on offer.
There's a small amount of crosstalk when watching 3D, and Sony's main onscreen menu system is in need of an overhaul. It might be nice if Sony offered a touchpad remote - at least as an optional extra - for people who like to use the TV's onboard web browser. And finally it's a shame Sony can't see its way to including even a single pair of free 3D glasses with the TV.
There really isn't any overstating the potential importance of the KDL-46HX853 to Sony right now. For in one single leap its stunning picture performance takes the struggling Japanese giant from near-zero to all-conquering hero - an achievement made all the more remarkable when you consider that this outstanding TV is being delivered at a more aggressive price than the usually ultra-competitive Korean brands are offering on their range equivalents.
To sum all this up, with the KDL-46HX853 Sony isn't just back, it's back with a vengeance.
Samsung's UE46ES8000 and UE46ES7000 models sit on pretty much the same feature level as the KDL-46HX853, with the Samsung models scoring points on account of their mind-blowingly slender designs, innovative control systems and slightly superior 3D images. However, they cost more than the Sony, and the KDL-46HX853 is on another level in terms of its 2D performance.
Panasonic's WT50 series also look stunning and use dual-core processing to offer some handy multitasking functionality that the Sony cannot. But while the WT50's pictures look good from what we've seen so far, they're certainly not as impressive as the KDL-46HX853's, especially when it comes to black level response.