Sony KDL-42W653A review

Sony targets the budget market with admirable results

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Thankfully, the 42W653A quickly sets about comprehensively laying to rest the troubling ghost of its 47W805A sibling by producing some extremely robust black levels.

We piped a series of dark scenes into the set, and with every one of them we were impressed by both the naturalism and depth of the set's black colour reproduction. There's much less evidence of the grey clouding effect than we saw on the 47W805A. Shadow detailing is also much more evident, helping dark scenes achieve a sense of depth and texture that's more evenly matched with the look of bright scenes. This greater sense of spatial consistency with dark and light content is, of course, essential to producing an immersive, natural viewing experience.

It's a relief to see, too, that the 42W653A suffers scarcely at all from the sort of backlight clouding/inconsistencies that were once a recurring issue for Sony LCD TVs. Feeding it a black image with a bright white circle in the middle, with the backlight set to a sensibly low level, resulted in only the faintest trace of excess brightness in the TV's corners. This inconsistency is so subtle that it's pretty much undetectable during normal viewing, especially if there's any ambient light in your viewing room.

On the dark side

Being able to produce a credible black colour plays an important role, too, in bolstering the naturalism of dark scenes by enabling the 42W653A to produce a wider, subtler and more realistic-looking set of colour tones during dark scenes.

Don't start thinking at this point that the 42W653A delivers the goods with dark scenes as well as higher-end models like Sony's own W905A series or Samsung's F7000 and especially F8000 TVs. It doesn't get as black as those models, and also isn't quite as clever with its light management. Its dark scenes lack some of the punch and subtle detailing you get with the higher-end models. But for its money, the 42W653A's contrast performance can be considered seriously accomplished.

Picture quality
Processing dark scenes isn't a problem for the KDL-42W653A

It's not only with dark scenes that the 42W653A impresses, either. It's got enough range and vibrancy to its colour palette to handle bright, colourful content eye-catchingly well too. Yet the power of its video processing means that this colour punch doesn't come at the expense of tonal subtlety. There's enough finesse in the 42W653A's tonal blends to make sure skin tones don't look plasticky, and there's little to no evidence of colour banding.

Upscaled colour

Nor is the colour richness beset by noise or colour bleed. In fact, noise levels generally are well controlled. This even holds true when watching standard definition upscaled to the screen's full HD resolution, as Sony's X-Reality Pro image processing centre proves far cleverer than the majority of picture engines in the sub-£600 42-inch marketplace. This is especially true when it comes to adding detail to standard definition sources while simultaneously stripping out MPEG blocking and mosquito noise.

Even ropey web-sourced content holds up pretty well on the 42W653A, such is the processing prowess on offer.

Yet another strong point of the 42W653A's performance compared with most similarly affordable TVs is the clarity of its HD images. It does a crisp job of reproducing every last detail of an HD source, and the set's motion handling is unusually clean. It doesn't suffer from the overt smearing over moving objects still seen on some budget TVs, and nor is judder severe enough to become a major distraction. In fact it's not a distraction at all if you employ the set's motion processing – and that processing's Clean setting is gentle enough to deliver de-juddering benefits without making the picture look unnatural.

Tech Specs

Product TypeLED-LCD TV
Scan Format1080p
Digital TunerDVB-C (MPEG2), DVB-T (MPEG4)
Video Signal StandardHDTV 1080p
Number of HDMI Ports2
Number of SCART Interfaces2
Product FamilyBRAVIA W653A
EU Energy LabelA+
Smart TVYes
Brand NameSony
Screen Size106.7 cm (42")
Aspect Ratio16:9
Horizontal Viewing Angle178°
Vertical Viewing Angle178°
Wireless LANYes
Ethernet TechnologyEthernet
Weight with Stand (Approximate)11 kg
Backlight TechnologyEdge LED
Operating Power Consumption95 W
Standby Power Consumption450 mW
RMS Output Power16 W
Electronic Program GuideYes
DLNA CertifiedYes
Digital Audio OutputYes
Height with Stand595 mm
Width with Stand954 mm
Depth with Stand197 mm
Composite VideoYes
Component VideoYes
Network (RJ-45)Yes
Number of USB Ports1
Energy Consumption per Year69 kWh
PC StreamingYes
Internet AccessYes
Media PlayerYes
Motion Interpolation TechnologyMotionflow XR 200
Height568 mm
Width954 mm
Depth69 mm
Sound SystemSurround Sound, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Pulse, NICAM
Product SeriesW653A
Maximum Resolution1920 x 1080
FeaturesWeb Browser, Sleep Timer, Picture and Picture (PAP)
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product ModelKDL-42W653A
Product LineBRAVIA
Manufacturer Part NumberKDL42W653ABU
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

Go beyond the everyday

Think you know great TV? Think again. The W65 is packed with technology to make everything you watch clearer, smoother and more full of life. It has some unexpected extras too, enabling you to seamlessly integrate your smartphone or tablet into the entertainment experience.

Bring your picture to life

Warmer sunsets, brighter eyes, more thrilling action - X-Reality PRO adds an extra dimension of image clarity to everything you watch. Drawing on a database of visual information, it analyses and enhances every image - it's especially good with faces and skin tone.

Package Contents
  • Batteries
  • Remote control
  • AC power cable
Limited Warranty1 Year
Weight (Approximate)9.90 kg