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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.