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Sony Bravia KDL-40HX703 review

John Archer



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Sony Bravia KDL-40HX703


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After struggling for some time now to find a strong and consistent TV design identity, Sony might just have stumbled on a solution with its new ‘Monolithic’ TV series - as represented today by the 40in KDL-40HX703.

The fact that Sony has gone so far as to actually devise a catchy marketing name for its latest TV ‘look’ speaks volumes about how seriously the brand is finally taking design. Which is exactly as it should be when you consider how well Sony’s Korean rivals have done for years now on the back of their innovative and instantly recognisable TV designs.

So what exactly does Sony’s Monolithic design concept involve? Well, the clue is very much in the name. For the Monolithic TVs essentially comprise a sheer, single-layer, black (screen and bezel) finish resembling the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey, with a touch of added flare coming from the fact that you can choose to tilt the screen back slightly if it works for your viewing position.

We’ve seen some Monolithic TVs at various Sony shows that consolidate their monolithic appearance by being extremely slim, thanks to edge LED technology. But, um, the 40HX703 is not one of these!

In fact, it looks unusually chunky round the back by today’s flat TV standards - a fact that undoubtedly reduces the coolness of its Monolithic aesthetic. The TV still looks nice, but its bulk stops it delivering that ‘wow’ factor we’re almost accepting as standard from Samsung and LG.

At least that big butt has been put to good use in housing a promising selection of connections. Four HDMIs and a component video input are on hand for your HD video sources, with multimedia support coming from an Ethernet jack, a D-Sub PC port, and a USB port.

The Ethernet permits you to hook into either a DLNA-enabled PC, or Sony’s terrific new Bravia Internet Video service (more on this in a moment), while the USB lets you make the TV’s network features wireless via an optional USB dongle, or else play MP3 audio, JPEG photo and video files from USB storage devices.

The main thing that distinguishes the Bravia Internet Video service we mentioned earlier is simply the sheer volume of video streaming content it carries. Highlights include YouTube, Channel 5’s ‘Demand Five’ catchup service, Eurosport feeds, LoveFilm.com (including syncing with your LoveFilm account), and some topical video clips showing classic moments from past World Cup footie matches.

This really is just the tip of the iceberg, though, with all manner of more minority ‘channels’ available via Sony’s online platform too. Golf fans are particularly well catered for!

It’s worth adding, too, that the 40HX703’s online features are impressively stable, with a small built-in buffer delivering almost total stability - even with HD video streams - via our simple 2MB broadband pipe.

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June 2, 2010, 1:20 pm

How you feel this stacks up in comparison to Panasonic Viera TX-P42G20B. The feature set on both companies products pages leaves me feeling dizzy. Is the Viera's lack of Wow in design made up by the the exta features such as Freesat, and one 1.4 HDMI?


June 2, 2010, 1:43 pm

John : Would you purchase this or the Panasonic TX-P42G20B ?

I'm looking for something 37" - 42". I normally favour Plasma and hate the "lag" that older LCD screens used to suffer from. I like the idea of all the integrated "applets" and the idea of being able to play 4 on demand, 5, iplayer, etc all from the TV is very attractive. Do Panasonic intend on adding these features to the TX-P42G20B ?

Look forward to your comments. Feel free to nominate any other TV too to confuse me even more ;-)


June 2, 2010, 4:36 pm

Good review, but it would be nice to know whether games are playable on this TV.

As one of several new 40" Sony Bravias I'm considering from the EX/HX/NX 500/700 range, it would be nice to know how much input lag this TV has.

As far as I'm concerned, if a TV has bad input lag, it will immediately be crossed off my list, no matter how good it is in all other aspects.

In the comments section of your Samsung UE55C8000 review, Ed said that you would look into this issue. Has any progress been made on this? Your reviews are generally great, but the omission of input lag testing means consulting other review sites, some of which go into way too much detail when it comes to testing methods. If your easy to read and concise reviews included input lag testing, I'm sure many people would appreciate it, as the demand is certainly there.


June 3, 2010, 12:32 am

Looks like a sweet TV. Do you know when Sony are going to give their 3D TVs to reviewers. I have to review some 3D games, but I have yet to get a date from Sony for the 3D TV arrival, idiots.


June 3, 2010, 8:20 am

Fake monolithic design. Companies should stop looking for a "brand specific design" and just make elegant and functional shapes with true interactive "feeling" between users and devices. I never care for how gorgeous and splendid a consumer electronic device looks in my room, because almost all CEDs look pretty ugly and extremely boring to me. Samsung is the champion in this field of bad taste.

Big money for nothing for designers all time. Boring. This is 2010, isn't it?


June 4, 2010, 1:08 pm

Disappointed that there's no reply in comparing this against the Panasonic. Is this politically incorrect ? Are TR sponsored by these companies and hence won't directly compare ?

Andy Vandervell

June 4, 2010, 1:47 pm

@AJ: RE: your original questions, as far as I'm aware Panasonic does plan to include these features, but as to when it might happen that's impossible to say. My gut reaction would be not to buy with the expectation of that happening, unless it's officially announced.

You're right on favouring plasma, though, so all I'd say is you need to decide what's more important to you: ultimate image quality (particularly motion performance), or interactivity. There's price to consider to, as the Panny is bigger and around £200 cheaper by the look of things.


June 4, 2010, 6:08 pm

Thanks Andy - that sounded like an endorsement for the Panasonic if ever I've heard one. It would be nice if Panny's design was a little sharper as it's going in a modern (newly decorated) room and if it looked as sharp as some of the new LCD's it would be a talking point whether on or off. Hardly the end of the world though.

I'm not too worried about the built in features as I've now sussed out attaching it directly to my desktop PC that's only a few meters away. So I can always use that to drive iPlayer, 4oD, DVD and Blu-Ray to the panel.

A couple more questions if I may...

1) Do the Panasonics have an "operating system" built in that gets upgraded too, like the PS3 for example ? Or every year do they release a new range with a new OS that's different, leaving the old sets behind ?

2) Can the Panny pull video / pictures from a PC running a media server like TVersity ?

Thanks for all the help. This information is very hard to find / understand without a little help from those that have actually used the products and love tech. :)


June 5, 2010, 12:52 pm

@Andy, Thanks for the advise. As the main purpose of a TV is to watch TV and not admire It's looks, I'll be getting the Panny. As I do have a love film account, I'll just keep my fingers crossed and hope Panasonic follow Sony with this functionality.


June 7, 2010, 1:48 pm

Fingers crossed someone can help with my questions please.

I did however go and have a look at these TV's over the weekend I'm sure the Panasonic will offer everything from a picture point of view that I need.

However Panasonic must be congratulated for (without a doubt) designing the dullest TV's on display. The crowning glory are their stands which really were designed and QA'd by Stevie Wonder after a big night out.

I just cannot understand how such a market leading company with such massive R&D / design budget can possibly use stands that ugly.

Come on Panasonic, get your act together, there as some of us that when spending this much money on a premium TV would like it to look good whether turned off or on.

peter sturgeon 1

July 17, 2010, 9:56 pm

NEW tv sony kdl-40hx713 due august 10

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