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Sony Bravia KDL-40V5500 40in LCD TV - Sony Bravia KDL-40V5500

John Archer

By John Archer



Our Score:


You may have noted, too, that I've yet to make any mention of wireless functionality with the 40V5500. The reason for this is simply that the set doesn't support it! There's no wireless receiver/transmitter built into the TV, and unlike Samsung's online TVs, you can't add wireless functionality via an optional dongle inserted into the USB port.

Having to hardwire the TV to your broadband connection - not always an easy job, depending on the site of your router/phone line - is a potential aggravation that to be honest feels hard to swallow in today's Wi-Fi age, and adds to the rather 'unfinished' feel of the 40V5500's Internet functionality.

Turning to other key features of the 40V5500, I quickly found a couple of interesting 'eco' tricks: a two-stage power saving system that knocks back the output of the backlight, and the facility to actually switch the picture off if you're 'watching' something where the only thing that really matters is the audio track.

A more common eco element carried by the 40V5500 is a light sensor, so that the picture's brightness can be automatically adjusted in response to the amount of ambient light in your room.

When it comes to picture quality, I was intrigued to find that the 40V5500 sports the latest generation of Sony's Bravia Engine video processing, cunningly called Bravia Engine 3. And although we haven't been furnished with full details of all its improvements and refinements, we have been assured that Bravia Engine 3 is no mere slight upgrade. Indeed, the chipset driving it has been redesigned more or less from scratch.

Not that Bravia Engine 3 is the only processing trick of note. An advanced picture adjustment submenu also gives you control over a host of further processing tweaks, such as Sony's vibrancy-boosting Live Colour system and a black correction tool. Blu-ray fans, meanwhile, will be pleased to learn that the 40V5500 features Sony's 24p True Cinema mode, for enhanced 1080p/24 playback.

All in all, despite not finding any 100Hz processing (for that you'll have to step up to Sony's new W5500 range), there's enough going on behind the scenes of the 40V5500's pictures to raise real hopes about how good they might be. And for a while, at least, it seems as if the 40V5500's picture performance will more than live up to our hopes.

Take its colours, for instance. They're startlingly good, looking sensationally rich and bright but crucially also eye-catchingly natural and believable, especially with high definition fare.

Such a definitive colour performance can only be achieved if a TV has a credible black level response, and this is certainly true of the 40V5500. Dark scenes suffer less tell-tale greyness than the vast majority of rival LCD TVs, producing the deepest black levels Sony has yet managed outside of its 55X4500 LED TV.

Concerns I'd had about the lack of 100Hz processing on the 40V5500 prove largely unfounded, too. For it actually handles motion very well, with, for instance, football players charging around the screen without losing severe amounts of detail and clarity. Camera pans can look a little stuttery and indistinct if they're really fast, but for the most part there's nothing motion-wise to complain about here given the 40V5500's reasonable price point.

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March 31, 2009, 5:28 am

"your jaw hanging open in admiration"

"To be fair, the subtlety of the problem here is such that it only very RARELY troubles your viewing"

and you gave Image Quality an 8/10?

are you serious?


March 31, 2009, 6:59 am

I've been on the AVForums, I've read a couple of other reviews of the new Sony 5500 generation on the 'net, and they nearly all mention this backlighting/clouding problem to varying degrees.

I wonder why it's so prevalent on Sony sets, especially as I've heard that the panels are made by a joint Sony/Samsung venture, so why do Samsung panels seem comparatively unaffected? I also wonder how the problem varies from set to set too? Hmm, much to think about for me.

Matt G Baish

March 31, 2009, 5:45 pm

I too have read elsewhere (on much more TV-centric site & therefore they give sets a much more thorough technical going over - no criticism of TR intended there btw it being a more general review site) that if the tv is properly calibrated then this problem is virtually non existent & should not worry you in light of the TVs other visual strengths unless you don't want to pay for the expense to calibrate the tv properly (or do yourself if you are technically competent in tv calibration - unlike me) - and in that case you might as well buy a budget set and/or watch it via a scart lead (like I have seen *TOO* many times in the past. Actually the worst culprit is my, soon-2-be, brother in law who bought a 52" Samsung Plasma TV which not only was only 720p (i.e. not Full-HD, slightly daft that) but also for which he has only 1 potential HD source - a PS3, wait for it, connected to the TV via RCA Video - ARGH!!!).

Matt G Baish

March 31, 2009, 5:51 pm

"Having to hardwire the TV to your broadband connection - not always an easy job ..."

Connecting the Ethernet via a `home-plug` thingy (or woteva they are called again - I forget) would be simple enough though & something has to give at this price point.

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