Sony KDL-40HX723 review

Edge-lit LCD with superb 2D and 3D pictures and the excellent Bravia Internet Video service

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Sony kdl 40hx723

The chief attraction of the KDL-40HX723 is its combination of integrated active 3D with a much faster claimed refresh rate.

It's a pity, however, that the set doesn't underline its potential 3D appeal by providing any active shutter glasses for free, thereby adding a couple of hundred quid to the set's already high cost.

The KDL-40HX723 doesn't ship with built-in Wi-Fi or the USB dongle with which you might add it, so you'll need to find another £80 or so if you want to go wireless.

From here on in, though, the news where features are concerned is mostly good. As well as the promising 3D and refresh rate stuff, the KDL-40HX723 is extremely well equipped for multimedia. The Bravia Internet Video service enables you to jack the TV into your network via a provided LAN port (or the optional Wi-Fi dongle) to enjoy a startling amount of video streaming from Sony's online servers.

Highlights include the BBC iPlayer and Channel Five Demand 5 catch-up services, a World of Sony channel providing instant and free access to a varied array of classic Sony-backed TV shows ranging from Rescue Me to Diff'rent Strokes! and an interactive Sky News channel providing on-demand to headlines and key video news packages. You'll also be able to download LoveFilm movies, watch Eurosport and YouTube and avail yourself of Sony's Qriocity servers, which offer a subscription model for accessing films and music.

There are dozens of other video providers for you to explore on Bravia Internet Video and you can use Skype if you add an external camera (yes, another optional add on). Finally, there's an open web browser, which works well enough, though navigating sites via a TV remote is never a pleasurable experience.

The KDL-40HX723 can connect up to a DLNA PC for straightforward streaming of video, photo and music files, or it can play such files directly from USB storage devices via its two USB inputs.

The USBs also permit direct recording of whatever's showing on the integrated Freeview HD tuner - though while the picture quality from these recordings is impressive, you shouldn't expect the same sort of flexibility you would get from a dedicated external recorder.

Joining the USBs and LAN port among the KDL-40HX723's connections are four HDMI inputs for your digital/HD/3D sources, plus the staple connections you'd expect of any self-respecting TV. A surprising number of these connections, including three of the HDMIs, face directly out of the TV's rear, though, which isn't very helpful to anyone thinking of wall-hanging a KDL-40HX723.

Exploring the picture adjustment section of the KDL-40HX723's onscreen menus reveals an intimidating amount of options - many of which are related to the extensive processing tools.

When it comes to noise reduction, for instance, you get separate standard NR, MPEG NR, and Dot NR options, all with multiple levels of potency.

Then there's Sony's Reality Creation system, designed to adjust detail and noise levels to make pictures look more realistic. There are multiple levels to this processing and you can adjust its resolution and noise filtering elements manually.

Also worth tinkering with is a Smooth Gradation system. Part of Sony's new X-Reality Pro engine, designed to improve the appearance of low-quality video sources, the Smooth Gradation system attempts to deliver the equivalent of 14-bit colour processing (meaning no striping in colour blends) in an 8-bit output signal.

MotionFlow is one of the most important processing features. There are multiple settings, the default level being Standard, though you'll probably be safer switching to Clear, as it reduces judder and blur without causing too many processing side-effects.

Then there's a black level corrector, an advanced contrast enhancer, various gamma settings, the ability to turn on or off dynamic control for the LED lighting… a white booster, an edge enhancer... the list goes on.

This is all well and good, although a lot of the options are concerned with tweaking levels of processing, and, as such, demand a bit of care in order to strike the right balance between improving the image and making it look worse; the last thing you want is to make your pictures look over-processed.

Final bits and bobs worth running by you are Twitter and Facebook apps held within the Bravia Widgets section of the onscreen menus, and a fun bit of fluff called TrackID, which can analyse with remarkable accuracy even a very short bit of music playing on a programme you're watching and tell you the artist and track.