sony

Key to the KDL-46EX503's success as an all-rounder is the way it interacts with the user – and that's wholly down to its XrossMediaBar (XMB) interface.

Scanning from left to right brings up lists of live inputs, digital TV channels (including details on what's currently showing on each), internet video services, settings – the list goes on. It's incredibly intuitive and difficult to get confused once you've settled into its way of working.

Our only major criticism of XMB is that any video files must be accessed through the video axis, which seems logical, though with so many widgets displayed anything else – such as a USB stick – is shunted to the bottom of a very long list, which means you have to wade through a lot of (frankly pointless) video content to find it. If the user is connecting a USB stick, surely it should have top billing.

Meanwhile, the Bravia Internet Video platform is devilishly attractive and easy to use, with a similar grid-style interface given to each and every service.

Digital tv

Aside from the quality of the interface, what is very impressive about this platform is the video; stable and capable of displaying high-definition video very well, this system uses a seven-second buffer and dynamically changes the quality according to network availability.

Once again, though, there's no dedicated web browser fitted to Bravia Internet Video; we're certain this will come once someone comes up with an interface that doesn't require a keyboard.

While hardly a lesson in ergonomics, the remote control is an improvement on past generations. Slightly less cluttered and certainly more stylish (the battery compartment is initially totally invisible), it serves its master well.

A dedicated 'Theatre' button exists on the remote that puts the TV directly into a cinema-style picture preset, though oddly it brushes over the TV's other presets for 'Sports', 'Photo', 'Music', 'Game' and 'Graphics'.

Heart button

In the remote's centre is a button labelled with a love-heart that brings up an otherwise inaccessible menu bar across the bottom of the screen. It shows information on what you're currently watching as well as previously visited channels, inputs and services.

Bravia Sync works independently; although there's a menu to set-up control of a Blu-ray player, in our tests the Sony remote automatically controlled the basic functions of a connected Panasonic Blu-ray player.

It did, however, confuse the remote; pressing the 'Home' button merely brings up the Blu-ray player's own internal menus, which makes it tricky to return to the TV's Freeview channels – perhaps the remote could do with a dedicated TV command. It's the one gap on an otherwise joined-up interface.