Sony bravia kdl-40ex703

The KDL-40EX703 upholds the long-running Sony preference for restrained naturalism over mind-boggling feats of detail rendition or retina-searing brightness. Not that the resolving power at this set's disposal isn't extremely impressive, mind you.

Top-notch video, whether it be HD broadcasts or Blu-ray discs, looks absolutely superb, with oodles of depth and a huge amount of visual information to take in, rendered with a precision that only starts to break down from the most unlikely viewing distances.

What it doesn't do, though, is ram its resolution in your face.

Effortless perfection

You never get the feeling that the set is over-exerting itself in order to extract more visual data than ever before from any given source; the pictures don't have that over-processed sheen that you occasionally see on over-ambitious sets and you rarely see the picture appear to re-focus minutely when the content of the shot changes or the camera moves.

The result is a rich, immersive image that draws you into the action, rather than inviting you to marvel at its technical excellence at a slight remove.

Perhaps even more impressive, though, is the even-handedness with which this set treats whatever you put its way. Some sophisticated scaling circuitry ensures that even the lowliest standard-def broadcasts look comfortable when stretched across that 40-inch panel.

While you probably won't find your jaw dropping too far during episodes of Dickinson's Real Deal, you certainly won't find yourself feeling woefully short-changed when switching from high- to low-definition broadcasts.

While the former obviously look better, the latter are pleasingly clean, well-disciplined and generally devoid of the blocky, garish ghastliness that so often plagues bog-standard Freeview broadcasts on less diligent large-screen sets.

Deep blacks

Black levels are fairly good, but don't aspire to those achieved by direct-lit LED displays.

The darker shades are reasonably profound and there is a decent degree of distinction between shades, but the set never quite manages to attain true pitch darkness.

The deepest it can manage still has a slightly luminous quality, particularly watched in blackout conditions. On the plus side, there is little evidence of light pooling towards the sides (where the LEDs are located), a flaw that has scuppered more than a few of the edge-lit sets that have passed through the lab recently.

Crisp colours

Colours, meanwhile, are sublime across the board. The KDL-40EX703 has an astonishingly wide range, from the intensely saturated tones of children's TV programming to the subdued, wintry palette of Where the Wild Things Are on Blu-ray.

The latter is a particularly revealing showcase for the Sony's talents, with the opening, snow-bound scenes showing off the Bravia Engine's aptitude for picking out instantly familiar real world tones.

The infinite variety in the shades of snow, with its contours and shifting sparkle, is note perfect and the rosy pallors of the various kids involved will look instantly familiar to anyone who has ever engaged in a snowball fight.

Blending is seamless, with no stepping or banding between varying shades or intensities and there is no evidence of any bleeding.

One slight disappointment is the motion handling. While by no means the worst offender in its class (and with all due acknowledgement of the slight judder inherent to Blu-ray), the Sony does occasionally struggle to deal with the challenges posed by moving cameras.

It's not a glaring handicap and only makes itself known, in the form of a mild lag, on slowish, deliberate pans, but can be distracting once spotted.

Overall, though, the KDL-40EX703 is an immensely enjoyable watch, with a scope, depth and subtlety that lends itself particularly well to movies, but is equally satisfying with broadcasts.