Do you want the most polished smartphone-TV linking system yet? Or would you rather get a glimpse of first-gen voice and gesture control in your living room? You can't have both, it seems, and Sony is firmly in the first camp by ushering in the first TVs with NFC technology while eschewing the rest.

While the likes of the Samsung UE46F7000 and Panasonic TX-L42DT65B showcase their first - often stuttering - efforts at hands-free smart control to an audience that's likely as wary as it is enthusiastic, the Sony KDL-40W905A's approach is more about making it easier to use a best-ever television.

Ratings in depth
Sony KDL-40W905A review
Sony KDL-40W905A review
Sony KDL-40W905A review
Sony KDL-40W905A review
Sony KDL-40W905A review

The headline act on this 40-inch TV is a simple enough concept; touch your NFC-ready smartphone to the Sony KDL-40W905A's slim NFC-equipped TV remote control to pair the phone to the TV.

The actual data (music, web browsing, photos and video) doesn't travel via NFC, but via Miracast/Wi-Fi Direct, but it's NFC that makes this the easiest, quickest way yet to make that initial link. It makes DLNA networking look positively stone-age.

Whether or not that appeals to you will depend on how reliant you are on your smartphone for music, video and browsing, and furthermore, how desperate you are to join up your pocket-sized device to a big screen TV. But there's more to Sony's smallest flagship Bravia TV than NFC.

3D - here in its active shutter flavour - is now considered standard, though a more important feature on the Sony KDL-40W905A is Sony's X-Reality Pro engine, image circuitry that combines an LED-backlit panel with local dimming tech and Triluminos tech, which is primarily concerned with achieving plasma-like colour.

That said, it's the Sony KDL-40W905A's unusual design that will immediately catch the eye. Meaninglessly called 'Sense of Quartz', it's a rather brave yet somehow Sony-like effect whereby a thin blue line cuts into the bezel's edge.

Sony KDL-40W905A review

That bezel is reasonably slim, with 10mm along the top and 14mm along the other three sides, though we're not convinced about the badly protruding Sony logo below the screen. Worse still, that protrusion has gimmicky LED lights that change colour according to what the TV is doing, which can be distracting and certainly doesn't serve any kind of purpose.

More positive distractions come from the Sony Entertainment Network - or SEN, for short - suite of apps, with unusually powerful speakers installed for good measure, too. Compared to most 40-inch TVs, Sony's KDL-40W905A is quite a package.

Also available

The Sony KDL-40W905A is priced at £1,399 (around US$2,150/AU$2,320). Sony's W9 Series is elsewhere made up of the 46-inch Sony KDL-46W905A (£1,799) and 55-inch Sony KDL-55W905A (£2,399), both of which add a couple of pairs of extra 3D glasses to the package to bring the total to four in the box.

Sony KDL-40W905A review

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If it's NFC you're after but you can't stomach those prices, consider Sony's step-down W8 Series. This consists of the 42-inch Sony KDL-42W805A (£849), 47-inch Sony KDL-47W805A (£1,099) and 55-inch Sony KDL-55W805A (£1,499), none of which include the same Dynamic Edge LED panel found on our review sample.

There is no W7 Series, and Sony's W6 Series consists of just 32-inch and 42-inch sets, all of which serves to make the Sony KDL-40W905A one of Sony's smallest TVs for 2013. And a fine one it is, too.

Features

There's plenty to talk about on this flagship TV, but let's start with the basic ins and outs, which cover three different panels on the Sony KDL-40W905A's rear. A central indent houses wired LAN (though Wi-Fi also features), optical digital audio out, a set of component video inputs, phonos and a Scart.

Sony KDL-40W905A review

Below that is another recessed panel with three down-facing HDMI inputs and feeds for both Freeview HD and Freesat HD. That will impress some, but with the latest flagship TVs from Samsung and Panasonic now featuring dual tuners for both Freeview HD and Freesat HD, it's a bit disappointing at this price.

A side-panel, also recessed, offers two USB slots (three is standard on high-end TVs from rival brands) and a standby switch, with just enough navigation controls for the on-screen menu system in case you lose the remote control.

That doesn't seem likely, since the Sony KDL-40W905A includes two remotes. The standard remote (RM-ED052) is the regular Sony effort that's remained unchanged for a few years, while the secondary remote (RM-ED003) is all-new; slim and lightweight, it's fun to use, though it's sadly not a touch-sensitive effort, as with Samsung's and Panasonic's flagship TVs. It does make us wonder what, aside from NFC, is the point of it?

Sony KDL-40W905A review

Using the Sony Xperia Z smartphone, which is equipped with NFC, we could demo the one-touch Screen Mirroring feature that's actually powered by the Wi-Fi Direct peer-to-peer link (it has a far higher data transfer rate). Bluetooth is also onboard.

As if the control options for the Sony KDL-40W905A weren't enough (barring the absent voice and gesture option, of course, though that's not exactly a negative), there's also a free app available from Sony called TV Sideview. It's a pleasant enough app designed to make browsing the TV schedules easier while watching TV, but the lack of a second TV tuner in the Sony KDL-40W905A precludes any previewing.

The TV itself also has two of its own scheduling services - the regular EPG that's updated by broadcasters, and a new web-powered variant that uses Sony's own Gracenote system.

Sony KDL-40W905A review

Smart TV apps come via SEN, which is rather reliant on Sony's own Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited services. As well as the likes of BBC iPlayer, Lovefilm, Netflix, Daily Motion, Demand 5, BBC News, Sky News and BBC Sport, SEN offers a number of widgets including Skype, a web browser, TV Tweet, Guide and Search (Sony's web and Gracenote-powered EPG), Text Search, Media Player, Home Theater Control, a clock and a Photo Frame mode.

However, during our test we saw frequent messages stating that 'some sources are unavailable because server is busy', despite our 50MB broadband home network operating normally with everything else.

Not that it's a major selling point any longer, but the Sony KDL-40W905A does have an active shutter 3D mode, along with two pairs of Sony's TDG-BT400A active 3D glasses.

Sony KDL-40W905A review

More important in terms of picture tech is Triluminos, an always-on technology that puts tiny red and green filters onto each LED in an effort to produce more finely graded, lifelike colours.

Meanwhile, X-Reality Pro is all about increasing clarity and detail, with a system called Reality Creation responsible for upscaling SD images and cleaning them up.

However, with the era of frame rate increases now upon us, it's the Motionflow XR 800Hz motion frame interpolation system that we'll be keeping an especially close eye on.