Happily, the 40WE5 isn't content to trade solely on its green credentials. Its connections, for instance, include a healthy four HDMIs, a USB port that can play photo, music or video files into the TV, and an Ethernet port via which you can either access multimedia files stored on a DLNA-certified device, or else access Sony's new AppliCast online service. AppliCast currently includes such features as RSS newsfeeds, interactive news, online photo stores, a World clock and an onscreen calculator.
As noted in previous reviews of Sony's 'online' TVs, the AppliCast service currently offered is slick but really limited content-wise compared with some rival systems. But there's always the potential, of course, for the service to grow in the future.
While all the 40WE5's tree-hugging goodness sounds great on paper, I have to say that it's got me concerned about the 40WE5's picture quality. But the 40WE5 really does its level best to assuage these concerns with an extended feature list that doesn't show any obvious signs of picture quality compromise.
For instance, the set includes Sony's 100Hz MotionFlow system, which doubles the standard PAL refresh rate, and interpolates new frames of image data to make motion look both crisper and more fluid. The 40WE5 also boasts Sony's impressive Bravia Engine 3 video processing system, which we've recently seen do a terrific job of reducing noise in images - especially upscaled standard definition ones - while also boosting detail levels, colour response and all sorts of other subtle things besides.
In fact, the 40WE5's picture related features look identical to those of the recently reviewed Sony KDL-46W5500, right down to the extremely high claimed contrast ratio of 100,000:1. But surely the 40WE5's Eco drive means it can't actually achieve the same high video standards as the W5500, right?
Wrong, actually. Well, sort of wrong, anyway.
What I mean by this is that if you employ ALL of the 40WE5's eco measures, pictures can become a little dull and/or slightly unstable. Because of this, I generally left both the Light Sensor and Power Saving Eco features switched off. However, crucially the new HCFL backlight system doesn't seem to cause pictures any problems at all, meaning that the single biggest Eco feature of the 40WE5 delivers its energy efficiencies without performance compromises. Excellent.
In fact, provided you avoid the Light Sensor and Power Saving options, the 40WE5's pictures look identical to the excellent ones witnessed on the 46W5500. Except that in one respect, they're actually slightly better. For the residual signs of backlight inconsistency noted under extremely dark conditions with the 46W5500 are to all intents and purposes gone completely on the 40WE5 - at least if you're using any remotely sensible image settings. Presumably, this is a result of all the in-house work Sony has put into developing the 40WE5's new eco backlight.