Sony KDL-42W653A review

Sony targets the budget market with admirable results

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Our Verdict

The 42W653A's picture quality really is excellent for its money, while a ground-breakingly low input lag performance also makes it a stellar option for serious gamers.


  • Impressive picture quality
  • Some good online services
  • Great value
  • Strong video processing


  • Smart interface lacks sophistication
  • Limited catch-up TV services
  • Only two HDMIs
  • Sound quality is average

The first thing you need to do with the 42W653A is put aside all the prattle and hyperbole swilling around the AV world right now about 4K/Ultra HD, OLED, curved screens and other high-end fancy stuff. For this TV is ultimately about one thing, and one thing only: price. At £550 for a 42-inch TV, the best we can hope for is that it delivers a good slice of Sony's newfound TV picture quality without breaking the bank.

In delivering on this value promise, though, Sony clearly has to make compromises somewhere. Sorting through the impact of these will be at the heart of our assessment of the 42W653A – and right away we can see a few issues of potential concern.

Its design and build quality are both clearly inferior to Sony's more expensive sets. There's no 3D support and no sign of the local dimming lighting engine that worked so superbly on Sony's W9 and X9 series. There's no Sony TriLuminos colour technology, and the set only delivers a 200Hz-like effect compared with the 800Hz engines employed higher up Sony's range.

Video processing

It's not all doom and gloom, though, for the 42W653A does still retain Sony's latest Smart TV engine, as well as Sony's impressive X-Reality Pro video processing system.

It doesn't help raise our hopes for the 42W653A's performance, however, that the 47W805 range one level up from the W653A series turned out to be a disappointment, with some fairly significant backlighting problems. It's only when stepping far higher up the price ladder to the W905A series that Sony's range gets seriously tasty.

The other models currently available in the W6 series are the 32-inch 32W653A and the 50-inch 50W656A.

We'll look at potential worthwhile rivals later on, but briefly models that spring to mind are the Toshiba 40L6353 and Samsung UE40F6400.