Sony Bravia KDL-46EX503 review

Sony plays it safe with this good value bigscreen

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The KDL-46EX503 has pictures to cherish across all sources. It's been a while since we've been able to say that about a Sony LCD TV, so kudos to the company's engineers for developing such as versatile product.

In part that's down to the panel's shortfall in supreme sharpness; hi-def images from both Freeview HD and Blu-ray do appear a fraction softer than we've seen on full HD LCD panels in the past.

This, however, isn't the disaster it first appears, because it enables the KDL-46EX503 to construct some of the most pristine pictures around. Decontaminated by background picture noise, artefacts or much degree of blur, fast-moving sequences and ponderous landscapes stun principally because there's very little risky processing going on inside the KDL-46EX503.

And if that slight softness means crisper Blu-ray, imagine how it treats standard-definition digital TV and DVDs. Very cleanly is the answer – a refreshing change after seeing so many flatscreen TVs initially stun with HD only to then mess-up Freeview pictures.

The reputation of the LCD panel used in this TV further rises when it comes to contrast and colour. Blacks are remarkably deep and lifelike. Better still, there's enough detail within blocks of dark colours to lend dingy footage a cinematic edge, though don't confuse this with a high-end model; the KDL-46EX503 is best used in a living room where its ambient light sensor lessens the otherwise vivid brightness of its backlight.

Switch off the lights and blacks take on a blue hue, though there's no sign of any light leakage around the edges of the panel (unlike on some models we saw in 2009).

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Taking its lead from the panel's impressive brightness, Live Colour pushes without over saturating, with plenty here for those that prefer more muted tones (can easily achieve a more cinematic look (switching on 'Theatre' mode is the quick way).

Enabling MotionFlow doesn't get rid of all blur, but it does make it less noticeable, while the judder we've seen permeate most LCD screens displaying Blu-ray movies is lessened – though not eliminated – by a very conservative frame insertion 'film' mode that, thankfully, doesn't introduce any flicker. It's typical of Sony's risk-free approach to picture processing on this set.