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Any hopes I might have had about starting this week gently, with a nice simple TV, were summarily dashed over the weekend as the technical difficulties I'd been having with Sony's truly groundbreaking KDL-40ZX1 TV were sorted out. For now I no longer had any excuse for not wrestling with all of its fancy features at the earliest opportunity - i.e. today. Sigh.
Actually, to be honest, while reviewing the 40ZX1 has certainly been unusually time-consuming, the process hasn't been completely without its pleasures. It's certainly been fun, for instance, to see the look of wonderment on the faces of any friends, family and colleagues who happened to wander in while the TV was working. Not necessarily because of the set's picture quality, but rather because the TV's 40in frame sits on a body that's for the most part just 9.9mm thick.
Yes, I really did say 9.9mm, not 9.9cm. Thanks to edge-based LED lighting technology (more on this later), the 40ZX1 is comfortably the thinnest large-screen TV the UK has ever seen. And the impact of its extreme slenderness really can't be overstated, wowing as it does everyone from gadget hounds to my dear old 86-year-old gran.
Truly awesome though the 40ZX1 looks, there's a voice inside me that wants to trivialize this slenderness, no matter how extreme. For when you really get down to it, even the 40ZX1 is only a few cm slimmer than a ‘normal' flat TV. Also, of course, the impact of its slimness is inevitably not going to be so profound if you wall-hang the TV, thus denying people the chance to see all around it. And finally, while we've seen no evidence yet to suggest that going ultra-thin can damage image quality, we also haven't seen any evidence to suggest that it actually improves picture quality. And when all's said and done, for me - boring though it doubtless makes me sound - a TV ultimately has to be all about the picture quality.
Getting back to the 40ZX1's design, it's important to point out that its ultra-slim body is built from rather gorgeous black brushed metal. This quickly puts to bed early concerns I'd had regarding how robust such a slim TV might be.
Not surprisingly, the 40ZX1's remarkable slimness means that the TV does not carry a built-in tuner. In fact, it doesn't have much built into it at all; just a solitary HDMI ‘monitor' input, a slot for attaching an optional, speaker-bearing stand, and a two-pin power input (there wouldn't have been enough room for a typical three-pin ‘kettle lead' connection, after all!).