Of course you don’t have to connect anything up to this TV in order to watch it. Sony has covered its bases by installing both analogue and digital tuners. You can switch between the tuners at the touch of a button, but I imagine that, like me, you’ll be using the digital one most of the time. The digital tuner is a good one – it managed to lock-on to every Freeview channel, while other digital tuners have struggled in my area.
Sony has built its reputation on stylish design and this Bravia continues that tradition. Finished in matt silver this TV looks great – the slim bezel surrounding the screen makes the 40in diagonal viewable area look even larger. Below the screen is a mesh hiding the integrated speakers, which produce surprisingly good results – I generally believe that a large screen needs to be coupled with a full surround sound system, but I’ve used this TV with just the integrated speakers for the past few weeks and the sound has adequately filled the room while watching TV and movies or playing games.
The ellipsoid stand adds to the attractive design, while also providing a very stable grounding for the TV. Of course you could wall mount the Bravia – something that I plan to do when I purchase a new TV myself.
The remote control is slim, sleek and silver – complementing the TV perfectly. Unlike many of the generic remotes that I come across, this one sits in the hand comfortably. Also Sony has learned that a good remote doesn’t have to sport hundreds of buttons (like many of its old TV remotes used to) – this one has all the controls you need without being daunting to the average user.
Picture quality on the KDLS40A12U is very much dependant on the quality of the source. Obviously using the digital tuner will produce better results than the analogue one, but that’s only part of the story. Watching something modern, that’s been shot in a widescreen format will look reasonable, but if you happen to catch something a little older things aren’t so impressive. I found myself flicking through all the Freeview channels one evening and stopped to watch an old repeat of Minder – unfortunately it looked terrible, but this was a result of a high quality display showing up the flaws in an old print. That said, the slightly more expensive V series of screens incorporate Sony’s WEGA engine, which will allegedly improve playback of standard definition video - I'll find out for sure when I get my paws on a V series display.