Let's get the grumble out of the way first. This 40-inch LCD TV may look the part with its attractive design, but the sockets aren't the final word in future proofing: only one HDMI here.
With futureproofing it's nigh on essential for HD-ready sets to embrace the possibilities of more than one hi-def connection. The solitary HDMI is all well and good for a Sky box, but what about a DVD player with a digital output? A (liquid) crystal ball isn't needed to see which way the hi-def wind is blowing, and we expect more from Sony at this price. Rant over.
But, once you've come to terms with this connectivity blow, the KDL-40S2010 shapes up to be a very respectable HD-ready set indeed, just like its predecessors in the Bravia range.
This set is jam packed with treats. Sony's proprietary Super Patterned Vertical Alignment (SPVA) is on board to increase the viewing angle by splitting the pixel into quarters and angling the light they project differently - a process that even makes blacks appear as they should when viewing the screen side-on.
Picture Noise suppression is also included in the package, and this feature really hits its stride with a high-definition feed of Planet Earth: watching some lovable penguins, the level of detail and contrast levels is noticeably improved and clarity is boosted. What's more, this picture boosting is delivered without any noticeable fizzing on-screen.
High-definition pictures are realistically colourful and even troublesome black levels are rendered with real authority - an impressive disclosure for a flatscreen TV.
The KDL-40S2010 also manages to tackle another major obstacle of LCD TVs: motion smearing. Here there's little to notice in terms of blur and image lag over fast moving footage, although there is occasional stuttering over swift camera pans.
No DVD loathing
Although this 40-inch LCD TV is more at home with high-definition feeds, standard-def material isn't bad either. Our test DVD of Fear and Loathing... is tackled without difficulty: the lurid colours of the hotel's interior and the brightness of the sand-blasted exterior shots are impressively rendered. Similarly, the pictures from the built-in digital tuner are enjoyable.
One slight criticism is that on-screen logos and graphics do have a tendency to break up in an unpleasant manner. But as this problem occurs on many an LCD TV of this size, we won't pull this Sony Bravia to pieces over it.
This set's pictures are impressive overall, but it's a shame that the same can't be said for the sonics, as the audio from this TV's bottom-mounted speakers isn't the best. Treble and mid-range levels are good enough, but the real shortfall here is the lack of bass. On the bright side, dialogue is adequate, assisted by BBE Digital circuitry.
Overall, it's the Sony KDL-40S2010's handling of HD material that sways us: they're consistently a pleasure to watch. Also, this TV puts in a more than respectable performance with standard-def material.
We've always been fans of the Bravia range, and this set builds on those solid foundations. However, a few sonic improvements and increased connectivity would raise this LCD TV's score, as more versatile sets can be found for less.