Sony kdl-55hx823

Put to work with online fare from the Bravia Internet Video platform, the Sony KDL-55HX823 spits out excellent upscaled images.

Although we did notice the odd jagged edge or an overly soft picture on a number of occasions, the Smooth Gradation setting always produces a clean and highly watchable picture.

If that's a crucial part of the TV's appeal as an all-rounder, so too are the Sony KDL-55HX823's 3D pictures. During a run through of the Wimbledon men's final from a Virgin Media Tivo box recording, what was most striking was the lack of ghosting and crosstalk. Given LCD tech's somewhat chequered history with 3D, this is something of a relief, although there's still the issue of greatly reduced brightness.

The good, clean work continues with some sequences from last year's football World Cup, although the odd echo was evident in some of the more fast-moving passages of play (not when Spain were playing, then).

Those bright and breezy outdoor scenes in the African sunshine excel, even if the 3D-ness doesn't always (the only truly impressive depth shots are from behind the goal and from other odd angles), but it's a different matter with Avatar on Blu-ray.

Take the attack sequence on the tree; the gunships, fireballs and explosions are all displayed with noticeable depth and, despite the odd echo attached to flying debris, are clean and comfortable to watch. Then, as the Na'vi run from the falling tree and the smoke starts to sink, the entire film takes on a blacker look to the extent that a lot of foreground details are tricky to make out. Any areas that are dark and dingy fade into one another.

It's not enough to put us off active shutter 3D, since the detail – especially on a panel as big as this – is exceptional, and far surpasses passive 3D TVs we've seen.

All but the most muted passages are imbued with vibrant yet natural colours, and Motionflow 400Hz smoothes out pictures very effectively. So well, in fact, that we can't really see the point of the 800Hz system employed by Sony on the Cinema HX series-toppers.

These same strengths uphold an admirable 2D performance, with the exception of good, but less-than-plasma ultimate black levels, which can cause greyness in some scenes.

The LED backlight isn't as tight as it needs to be – we noticed some light leakage in all four corners of the panel, with clusters visible in the lower left-hand side.