Sony kdl-40cx523

Sound

The dynamic range of the speakers is expansive enough to leave the mid-range sounding quite spacious and uncluttered even during action scenes, while treble clarity benefits substantially from not having to share too much space with the mid-range. There's even a bit of bass around, which is practically unheard of with budget flat TVs.

The only audio catch is that you can't push the set too loud, or else its plasticky bodywork starts to vibrate and resonate more than it should.

Value

With a Freeview HD tuner, Sony's Bravia Internet Video service, a web browser, Skype, multimedia playback from USB drives/DLNA PCs, and best of all some more than respectable AV standards, the KDL-40CX523 is a bona fide bargain.

It certainly stands up well in terms of what it offers compared with Toshiba's slightly more expensive 42HL833.

Ease of use

The KDL-40CX523's onscreen menus utilise Sony's double-axis Xross Media Bar system first pioneered on the PS3 games console before being adapted for televisions. The main tweak to the system now finds its dual axes appearing beneath and to the right of a reduced version of the video source you were watching when you pressed the menu button, rather than appearing over the top of the picture.

This makes the system less fiddly to use and the reams of multiple online channels are now clustered together, rather presented as a seemingly endless list of individual sources, as was the case on previous sets.

The only catches with the revamped onscreen menus are that there are a few too many menu headers to have to navigate through along the bottom axis and that the menus don't seem to have been organised into a particularly intuitive order.

The icons for the numerous submenus don't make it particularly obvious what features they contain, either, but it doesn't take too long to learn what's what.

The flimsy build of the remote control doesn't inspire confidence, but it turns out to be very usable, with its slightly curved design fitting comfortably into your hand and its buttons being both spaciously laid out and sensibly organised.