While not ugly, the KDL-40CX523 suffers from a plasticky finish and lacks the sense of solidity that characterises pricier sets. The KDL-40CX523's connections are as comprehensive as those on most high-end TVs, with four HDMIs receiving unexpectedly comprehensive support from a D-Sub PC port two USB slots and an Ethernet socket.
The latter is particularly welcome, since it serves no fewer than three different duties. First, it's there in its mandatory capacity to provide support for the built-in Freeview HD tuner. Second, it enables you to stream photo, music and video multimedia files from a networked, DLNA-capable PC. Finally – and most excitingly, given the KDL-40CX523's aggressive price – it can transport you to Sony's Bravia Internet Video online service.
Bravia Internet Video differs from rival manufacturer's systems by focusing on streaming video. The BBC iPlayer and Demand 5 catch-up TV services are the main headliners, but there's also an interactive Sky News feed, Skype support (if you add a camera), YouTube, LoveFilm, Sony's Qriocity film and music subscription services, plus The World Of Sony, which gives you a decent selection of classic TV series that you can watch, in full, for free.
There's a wealth of more obscure video stuff too, such as golf tips and simple HD clip showcases, with the total adding up to a library of video content that leaves its rival online TV platforms trailing well behind.
Bravia Internet Video doesn't go a bundle on the sort of infotainment and simple gaming apps employed (arguably to excess) on some rival platforms, though Sony has recently introduced Twitter and Facebook and the KDL-40CX523 also sports an open internet browser.
If you don't want to hardwire your KDL-40CX523 into your network, you can use one of the USB ports to add an optional extra (£70-£100) Wi-Fi dongle. You can also, of course, use the USBs for playing back video, photo or music files from USB storage devices.
The KDL-40CX523 has a decent amount of options for tinkerers to get their teeth into. More effort might have gone into ways of enabling you to fine-tune colour tones and the white balance, but the KDL-40CX523 goes as far as you might reasonably expect for this sort of money.
The only potential spec issues worth mentioning are that the scanning is only 50Hz and the backlight is conventional CCFL (Cold Cathode Fluorescent) rather than LED.