As you'd anticipate, this lack of a built-in tuner and shortage of sockets is compensated for by the inclusion with the screen of an external multimedia box. This box provides three HDMI inputs to accompany the one on the screen, with other highlights of an optical digital audio output, a D-Sub PC port, a USB port, a component video input, and two IR Blaster ports for passing on control signals to secondary gear you may want to stick in a cupboard somewhere. All good news, of course. But what makes the media receiver really special is not its inputs, but the fact that it doesn't carry an output for connecting it to the screen…
This is because, rather niftily, the screen and receiver incorporate the UK's first wireless HD transmission system. This system uses a proprietary 5.0GHz ‘broadcasting' system to carry all the image and sound information wirelessly from the receiver to the screen, even when that image content is data-heavy HD fare.
Given that cabling is regularly stated to be the most annoying thing about trying to set up a home cinema system, the 40ZX1's groundbreaking wireless talents could win it as many fans as its slimness. It's just a pity nobody's figured out how to power the screen wirelessly yet as well!
The 40ZX1's feature count doesn't end with its wireless HD and slimness, either. Particularly noteworthy is the set's MotionFlow 100Hz processing, Sony's proprietary engine for adding extra frames of image data to make movement in the picture look both sharper and more fluid.
Also handy are a game mode; a couple of different film modes that tweak the progressive scanning to suit film sources; separate video and photo modes; standard and MPEG noise reduction routines; an optional black corrector; an optional contrast booster; plus gamma, clear white, and white balance adjustments. A full colour management system would have been the icing on the cake, but I guess I can let this ride in the face of all the 40ZX1's innovations.
Obviously the two big things I need to pay special attention to as I start reviewing the 40ZX1 are whether its thinness and/or wireless media box connectivity damage its performance in any way.
Starting with the wireless distribution system, the answer appears to be that it does its thing without any obvious problems. Admittedly I initially had some issues with getting the screen to talk to the receiver, but this was because I'd been sent the wrong receiver (the screen and receiver have to be ‘formally introduced' to each other before they'll communicate), not because of any limitations with the communications system.