It's difficult not to be wowed by Sony's 2014 W8 wunderkind. This TV delivers absolutely where it counts, offering a scintillating performance that belies its price tag. Indeed, image quality is so uncompromisingly good, coping well with everything from moody movies to sprightly sports, you'll probably find it difficult to justify spending more.
While Sony doesn't offer a full suite of catch-up, there's a broad selection of quality Internet TV services (at least those you'll actually want to use on a regular basis), plus excellent functionality in the shape of the Discovery search and programme suggestion bar.
Design and build quality is also high, if black metal minimalism is what you're after.
With scorching detail, luminous colour performance and effortless dynamics, the HD picture on Sony's 2014 W8 is outstanding. Motion handling is best in class. With high levels of moving detail unsullied by motion artefacts, this screen is ideal for sports fans.
Sony's new On-Flick content Discovery engine is a great way to filter both linear TV channels and online services. Once set up, stuff you like will only ever be a few remote taps away.
Audio quality is better than you might expect, given the slim form factor of the screen. For general viewing the set doesn't disgrace itself sonically.
Sony has sacrificed elegance and integration when it comes to its main Internet TV service Home page, and the lack of full catch-up services is an obvious demerit. Meanwhile the Social View Twitter implementation is gimmicky and cumbersome to use.
On our early sample set, multimedia file playback across a network failed to work correctly, while Active Shutter 3D suffers from low-level crosstalk double imaging.
Offering imperious HD picture quality, the Sony W8 sets a high benchmark indeed. Nominally a mid-ranger, it outperforms expectations to such a huge extent that many buyers will be hard pressed to justify spending more.
Connectivity is excellent, with four HDMIs and two USBs, while its internet connected feature set delivers most of what you'll deem important, including Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, BBC iPlayer, YouTube and On Demand movies. Android smartphone integration is also seamless. Decent build quality and tasteful minimalist design merely cement its appeal.
What few caveats we do have are outweighed by that head-turning price tag. This is a cracking 1080p Smart telly.
If 3D isn't a major concern, those shortlisting the W8 could save £££s by jumping for the oh-so-similar W7 2D range instead. These sets employ the same X-Reality PRO detail enhancer and dance-band bass reflex speakers.
Wider afield there's competition to be had from Samsung's 6 Series LED screens, specifically the £50-inch UE50F6200, as well as LG's slightly more bijou 47-inch 47LA860W. However, don't expect either to match the Sony for visual prowess.