The best way to sum up the 40Z5800's pictures is to say that they're seemingly the same as those of the 46Z5500 we tested recently, minus that larger TV's noticeable backlight consistency problems. Which is another way of saying that the 40Z5800's pictures are for the most part really bloody good.
The 200Hz engine, for instance, does a really quite excellent job of tackling LCD technology's problems with motion blur and judder, achieving a strikingly – but crucially not excessively – smooth picture while generating precious few unwanted side effects.
In fact, if you set the MotionFlow system to Standard rather than high, you'll be hard pushed to notice any glitches at all – even though the picture still looks markedly more fluid and clean than it does with the system turned off altogether.
This motion clarity is joined by some extravagant sharpness when showing HD sources – this has long been a strength of Bravia LCD TVs, and it's given added emphasis here by the extra motion clarity caused by the 200Hz system.
Bravia Engine 3 has also proved highly successful in rescaling standard definition pictures to full HD screens, so it's no surprise to find the 40Z5800's standard def pictures combining sharpness with a relative lack of video noise.
Next, there's the sheer dynamism of the 40Z5800's pictures, as some impressively deep black levels sit side by side with searingly rich colours and pure, bright whites in a way seldom seen outside of the plasma or, especially, LED-backlit worlds. What's more, as noted earlier, there's no evidence that we could see of the distractingly different backlight levels in the picture's corners spotted with Sony's 46Z5500.
Whether this is a result simply of the 40Z5800 using a smaller panel than the 46Z5500 or reflects some improvements to Sony's manufacturing processes is currently impossible to say – so if you're thinking of buying a 46Z5800, try and check one out before you buy.
The only issues we have with the 40Z5800's pictures, really, are 1) that many of its presets are none too clever, requiring extensive calibration, 2) that the viewing angle is a little limited and 3) that the automatic backlight system can occasionally look a touch too obvious.
But these really don't amount to much versus all the good the TV does.
We should probably finish this section by saying that actually, there's nothing specific we need to say about the 40Z5800's Freesat pictures. They come out just as well through the TV's various picture processing bits and bobs as those of the Freeview tuner – except, of course, when they're HD and thus a million times better than Freeview!