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It's the 40W4000's next feature that's really going to be crucial, though: its Bravia Engine 2 image processing. This is the latest version of Sony's proprietary image processing engine, aimed at improving colours, contrast, motion handling, and detail, and so it's to this that we'll be looking for some sort of fixes for the picture problems - chiefly involving motion - that so plagued the W3000 range.
Sony also claims to have improved its dynamic contrast system for the W4000 models, so that the 40W4000 delivers a claimed - curiously precise! - contrast ratio of 33,000:1. One of the highest we've ever seen.
Other important features include a 24p True Cinema mode designed to deliver Blu-ray 1080/24 sources with greater smoothness; Virtual Dolby Surround processing to create a wider soundstage from the TV's onboard speakers; MPEG and standard noise reduction routines; Sony's Live Colour processing for delivering an expanded and more natural colour palette; plus an auto setup feature that guides you through a few key settings when you first turn the TV on.
With bated breath I settled down to find out if Bravia Engine 2 really does make a difference. And thankfully it does. In fact, it makes so much of a difference that I'm beginning to suspect there may have been other things wrong with the W3000 series besides its image processing; maybe poor quality source panels with low response times?
Anyway, let's concentrate first on the 40W4000's handling of motion, given that this was such a problem on the set's predecessor. Remarkably the smeary, laggy mess of the 46W3000 is more or less completely gone with the 40W4000 - even though the set doesn't carry any 100Hz processing.
During Sky's HD showing of Braveheart, therefore, the pitched, frenetic battles between Wallace's Scots and the English look sharp, detailed and clear rather than blurred and out of focus. Even better, as Wallace prowls left and right on his horse while delivering the justly famed ‘they'll never take our freedom' speech, Wallace blurs scarcely at all as he crosses the screen, even when the camera tracks to keep up with him.
In fact, from the disaster of the W3000 we've gone to a position where the 40W4000 is one of the most accomplished motion-handlers we've seen in the LCD world, even without 100Hz. This leaves us free to appreciate the other things the 40W4000 has going for it - of which there are many.
Fine detail levels with HD footage, for instance, are absolutely superb. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen the distance shots of the massed troops across the battlefields in Braveheart look sharper, clearer or cleaner. Or turning to more intimate footage, as Wallace hunts a deer just before he has his life saved by the mad Irishman, you can see every last hair of the deer's fur - something I've never noticed before. Truly stunning.