The KDL-55EX723 comes with an optical audio output for taking sound from the Freeview HD tuner and iPlayer to a home cinema system, Use it – the onboard speakers are woefully thin. Able to muster just about enough for clear dialogue, high volumes merely serve to underline how incapable of bass and mid-range the stereo 10W speakers are.
Let's not pretend this is a cheap TV; selling for £1,599 on Sony's website, we found it online for as low as £1,240 at the time of writing. Either way the KDL-55EX723 is an expensive choice, but good value? We're not so sure about that.
With no Wi-Fi module or 3D specs, there are far better value options around if both are important to you.
Ease of use
We don't care too much for the 'new and improved' user interface on the KDL-55EX723. The familiarity of the Xcross Media Bar found on the PlayStation 3 has here been sacrificed for a string of identical icons and shortcuts along the bottom.
Each contains a pop-up list of choices as it's scrolled over, but actually finding what you want can take some time – especially as the carousel of icons reverts to a default start point every time it's returned to. The aim of this design is to give some screen real estate to whatever live source you're watching, but it's a sacrifice too far in our opinion.
Unlike its core GUI and mixed bag of pictures, the KDL-55EX723's online dimension is as good as it gets – and is perhaps the set's highlight. As well as the standard Bravia Internet Video platform, Bravia Widgets are also in place. Despite the later only consisting of Facebook and Twitter feeds that occupy a portion of the screen alongside a live channel, the service as a whole is nothing short of outstanding – and it's not just because of the genuinely engaging content.
It's the gorgeous design that we love best about Sony's broadband-powered efforts; a simple grid template is applied to each and every service to the extent that everything works in a uniform manner, and once one app has been mastered, operating another is easy.
One widget we're not that enamoured by is the KDL-55EX723's open web browser, which is slow to operate and doesn't play web-based Flash videos.
It's better handled by the MediaRemote app for iPhone, which allows far easier URL entry and general text. Although the app proves useful for surfing, the physical remote isn't in dire need of a digital upgrade; its unusual concave design, button placement and good build quality make it one of the best around.
Track ID is a nice feature that integrates with the Bravia Internet Video platform; press a button on the remote whenever music plays during a live broadcast and – if connected to a router – the KDL-55EX723 will find the track details from the Sony-owned Gracenote database.
In our test it correctly identified the tiniest snippet of intro music from a BBC HD broadcast as Shining Light by Ash. Once it's found the title, track and associated albums, it's then possible to search the apps in Bravia Internet Video – the KDL-55EX723's smart TV platform – for any mentions. You can even Tweet the track title, though we seriously doubt whether anyone ever has.
It works, but only by keywords; we were presented with nine results for 'Ash', 'Shining' and 'Light' keywords in the Moshcam app, 64 in Dailymotion, and three in blip.tv. A sole clip from Moshcam of the Irish Britpoppers live in Sydney's Metro Theatre was hidden among short videos of the Northern Lights, a promotional video for a torch-light and some footage of, err, some geese. In flood-light. Nice idea in theory.
Sony's treatment of Freeview is also worth noting. It's immaculate, and though it can be a tad slow to respond to commands from the remote, it's clean, easy to understand and simply integrates the basic recording features.