Having already been wowed this year by Sony's flagship Full HD TV, the 55W905A, expectations are sky-high for the step-down W805 series. After all, if the 47-inch Sony Bravia KDL-47W805 sat on our test benches can deliver the majority of the W905A's quality at a significantly lower price, then it may very well end up being the smash hit part of Sony's 2013 range.

Its feature sheet certainly looks promising enough, including as it does 3D playback, a variation of the very fetching 'Sense of Quartz' design introduced on the Sony 55W905, Sony's latest SEN online platform and the latest version of Sony's X-Reality Pro video processing engine.

The only possible areas of concern are that the Sony 47W805A doesn't boast the intriguing new Triluminos advanced colour system found on the W905A series, and the use of a passive 3D system rather than an active one.

This makes the Sony 47W805 - priced at £1,299 (around US$2,030 / AU$2,135) - the first passive 3D TV Sony has ever launched.

Sony KDL-47W805 review

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If you can live without 3D and want to save some money, you could step down to Sony's new W6 series, which still retains the SEN online support, a startlingly slim design and X-Reality processing.

Or if you want to try the Sony 47W805 out against some similar-level rival televisions, your best ports of call would be the slightly more expensive Samsung UE46F7000, with its active 3D and groundbreaking smart TV system, or the Panasonic P50GT60 plasma, with its excellent pictures and brilliantly friendly My Homescreen interface.

Features

Even if you're not into 3D, for anyone who follows the TV world the Sony 47W805's single most intriguing feature is its passive 3D playback. Supported by the inclusion of four passive 3D glasses, this feature is particularly interesting here because it's the first time Sony has offered a passive 3D TV in its range, after years of dedicated support for the active 3D format.

In principle we applaud Sony's willingness to embrace both 3D formats in its 2013 range, on the grounds of offering consumers a 3D choice.

Sony KDL-47W805 review

Yet there's a little voice in the back of our mind that can't help but feel slightly concerned about how having to shift to using one of LG's passive 3D panels might have upset the excellent picture balance Sony struck on the W905A series and last year's brilliant Sony HX853 models.

Doing a good job of putting this doubt to bed, though, is the Sony 47W805's retention of Sony's X-Reality Pro video engine. By cunningly comparing incoming sources against a huge installed database of different picture types and scenarios, X-Reality Pro is able to deliver a processing shortcut that should enable it to deliver more accurate results in real time than most - if not all - rival systems.

Obviously the effectiveness of this system depends greatly on the extent of the database and the ability of the processor's parser to correctly and quickly pair an incoming source up with the right database rules.

But these are precisely the areas Sony has most worked on in improving X-Reality Pro from its 2012 iteration. It's also reduced the previous three X-Reality Pro chipsets down to two, to reduce costs and improve performance efficiency.

Sony Bravia KDL-47W805 review

Also a highlight of the Sony 47W805's feature list is its carriage of the latest Sony Entertainment Network (SEN) online platform. This sensibly focuses on providing plenty of video services, including such heavy hitters as BBC iPlayer, Lovefilm, Netflix, Demand 5, Sky News and Sony's own TV archive and Movies Unlimited services.

There's also a near-bewildering selection of smaller video channels, most of which carry very niche but occasionally still interesting content.

There's no disguising that Samsung and LG have trotted past Sony when it comes to providing A-list video content. Plus, as we'll see in the Usability section of this review, Sony's latest interface has fallen a bit off the pace too.

But Sony's smart TV stuff is nonetheless a very worthwhile addition to the Sony 47W805, and there are enough innovative touches around to show that Sony is still thinking on its feet where smart features concerned.

Sony KDL-47W805 review

These touches include an NFC remote control so you can mirror the screens of secondary NFC-supporting devices onto the TV screen; a Fast Zapp option that provides a great way of quickly surfing both broadcast and on-demand listings without disrupting what you're currently watching; and a prettily presented control and content-sharing app for iOS and Android devices.

It's a pity, though, that this app doesn't follow the lead of many rivals this year by supporting second-screen sharing of what's being shown on the TV screen.

The Sony 47W805's multimedia support also extends to photo, video and music playback via DLNA and USB ports, of course, while its apparent commitment to picture quality can be seen in an extensive quote of picture calibration tools, including a (slightly offbeat) colour management system and white balance controls.

The Sony 47W805 carries its decent list of features inside a reasonably attractive body. The television's bezel is a bit wider than most these days, but it's given a welcome dash of panache by a sliver of reflective blue - or a 'Sense of Quartz', to use Sony's marketing jargon.

Sony Bravia KDL-47W805 review

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Also eye catching is a little silver box sitting in the centre of the bottom edge. Dubbed the Intelligence Centre, this houses the TV's processing brain, and rather niftily changes the colour of its light output in response to the source you're watching.

The TV's rear, meanwhile, sports a fulsome suite of connections, including four HDMIs, three USBs, and both LAN and built-in Wi-Fi network options.

The last thing worth covering here is the other ways in which the Sony 47W805 differs from the specifications of its W905 sibling. The main one is its use of an IPS panel design rather than the VA type Sony has used previously. This should result in wider practical viewing angles, though experience suggests it might also result in a reduced contrast performance.

The Sony 47W805 also applies less power to its motion handling, delivering a MotionFlow XR 400 (400Hz) system versus the MotionFlow XR 800 (800Hz) effect on the W9 series.