If 2010 proved one thing where Sony was concerned, it’s that the brand is back in the innovation game. It delivered the UK’s first Freeview HD TV, it took online TV to a whole new dimension, and right at end of the year it gave us the 40EX43BU: the first TV in the UK to sport a built-in Blu-ray player.
This makes plenty of sense, of course. For if there’s a ‘Holy Grail’ of AV for your average compact living room, it’s reducing clutter. What’s more, with the price tag of just £571.65 that we’ve found online, the 40EX43BU is cheaper than getting a decently specified 40in Sony TV and Sony Blu-ray player separately, so you can feel like you’re getting a genuine bargain as well as leaving your room looking neater.
Of course, there’s a good chance that the performance of either the Blu-ray deck or the TV will be compromised in some way by having both crammed into a single chassis. It will be especially interesting to see what if any effort the TV makes to accommodate Blu-ray’s high def audio potential. But then to be fair, it’s likely that anyone buying this set will realise that some degree of performance compromise will be involved with their convenience-based decision, especially at under £600. So unless anything gets truly disastrous, we’ll probably feel inclined to cut the 40EX43BU a little more slack on the performance front than normal.
Aesthetically the 40EX43BU’s design hasn’t been compromised provided you’re looking directly at it. It wears the same mix of gloss black and smokey grey that we’ve seen on numerous other Sony models of late - except the relatively high-end ones that come dressed in Sony’s striking, all-black ‘Monolithic’ design.
Aside from a small Blu-ray logo on the bottom right corner of the 40EX43BU’s fascia, the main visual signs of the set’s combi nature are reserved for its rear, which boasts a disc slot on the right edge, and sticks out considerably more than most modern TVs - well in excess of 100mm.
As might be expected of a combi product, the 40EX43B carries three HDMIs - one less than most of Sony’s other current TVs. But there’s no sign of compromise elsewhere, at least where video and multimedia connections are concerned. A USB port, for instance, can play JPEG photo, MP3 audio or DivX, AVCHD and MPEG4 video, as well as potentially making the TV Wi-Fi capable via an optional USB dongle.
There’s also an Ethernet port, there first as mandatory support for a built-in Freeview HD tuner. But it also enables connectivity and file playback from a DLNA PC and, even more pleasingly, it enables you to jack into Sony’s excellent Bravia Internet Video service.
Having covered BIV regularly, including in our online TV update feature a week or so ago, we won’t go into detail on it again here. We’ll just mention its highlights - the BBC iPlayer, Demand Five, YouTube, the LoveFilm and Qriocity movie on demand services, plus Sony World of Television - and add that for us it’s currently the most consistently engaging online system currently available on a TV.