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Sony Bravia KDL-40EX43BU - Problems and verdcit

John Archer

By John Archer



  • Recommended by TR
Sony Bravia KDL-40EX43BU


Our Score:


User Score:

It’s worth adding here, too, that using the Blu-ray deck is impressively easy. It gets its own icon in the double-axis onscreen menu system, so there’s no need to get involved with complicated button routines or delving into too many submenus. The only pity is that there doesn’t seem to be any playback resume system, so if you, say, flick briefly to watch TV and then flick back to the Blu-ray you were watching, you’re right back at the start.

The 40EX43BU isn’t quite as accomplished with standard definition as some of Sony’s higher spec TVs, leaving pictures looking a touch soft. But aside from some over-stressed edges at times, standard def pictures do look pretty clean. And we’d rather have the slight softness than nasty, distracting levels of noise.

The 40EX43BU’s weakest picture link is its black level response. There’s a little more greyness over dark scenes than you get with the very best LCD screens - especially those that use LED technology - and a little crushing in the very blackest areas that squeezes out some shadow detail. This grows, as usual, if you have to watch the TV from an angle.

However, it must be stressed again that we’re talking not only about a combi product here, but a startlingly affordable combi product. And in this context the 40EX43BU’s black level response is really rather good - especially if you apply the brakes to the brightness and, especially, backlight settings. It’s a relief to see, too, that there’s only the most minor evidence of the backlight consistency problems we’ve found with far too many TVs in recent months.

Perhaps inevitably, the 40EX43BU’s audio is markedly less impressive than its pictures. So far as we can tell the speaker system it employs is no different to that found in Sony’s other mainstream TVs, and as such it’s not capable of delivering any real sense of the audio prowess Blu-ray is capable of. Blu-ray films don’t sound better than a quality drama on the BBC. In fact, they arguably sound slightly worse, as the speakers struggle to handle Blu-ray’s extra dynamics. Plus, as devout movie audiophiles with a huge pile of hungry speakers to feed, we definitely missed not being able to get any HD audio from our favourite Blu-ray films.

Again, though, to heavily criticise the 40EX43BU along these audio lines is to deny what it is and who it’s aimed at. Put in its proper context, the 40EX43BU’s sound is certainly adequate if not exactly mindblowing.


Our first proper TV review of 2011 has got the year off to a surprisingly good start. For while the 40EX43BU won’t suit everyone and doesn’t by any means set new standards for picture or sound, it does do a great job for its target audience of combining two of the AV world’s hottest properties. So much so that even if you had to stick with Sony’s £750 recommended price it would look good value; at the comfortably under £600 price level we’ve found it going for, it’s nothing short of a steal.

Martin Daler

January 4, 2011, 2:28 pm

Price as reviewed £597.06 inc VAT. OK, so allowing for the VAT rise that is £609.79 now. Still a long way off the "latest price" £727.17. How does this happen on the day the review is published? Surely that must knock the 10/10 value score.

(Who says retailers are looking to profit out of the VAT rise confusion?)


January 4, 2011, 6:17 pm

This is effectively Sony's KDL-40EX403U TV, which as this review alludes to is a great value no frills, but does things very well TV, with a built-in highly regarded Sony BDP-S370 Blu-Ray player.

The Sony's KDL-40EX403U may be no frills but you still get Freeview HD and Sony's BIV - others at this price level sometimes don't include these features, and this set was recently available at John Lewis for £399 incl 5yr guarantee (bargin, but now sold out), but elsewhere is still available for £440 at Amazon. The Blu-Ray player is in even bigger bargin - available for £90 at Play.

So you can get the equivalent as seperates cheaper (even if you include a HDMI lead) but not by much. Therefore, Kudos to Sony for giving you a clutter free option by combining them, not loosing any performance, and not charging a premium for it.

Personally, however, I would have prefered the TV with a built in PVR, and I think it would have been easier to produce - just a regular set with built in HDD, a bit of extra software with maybe an additional CODEC chip, and if they were especially nice, a second Freeview HD tuner!


January 4, 2011, 8:42 pm

I dont know where else to put this but could TR review some microphones


January 5, 2011, 12:42 am

@J4cK1505: In a word, no. We have done the odd microphone here and there when they have some extra technology but we're not likely to start reviewing normal ones any time soon. It's certainly something we would look to add in the future as we hope to expand, though.


January 5, 2011, 1:11 am

...not sure the reviewed set is the 1st with an integrated Blu-Ray. I've owned sony's own KDL-32EX43B for a few months now.

Martin Daler

January 5, 2011, 1:15 am

@ Stewart Thanks for that background info. The KDL-40EX403U is still available at Play.com for £399. To me £328 for a Blu Ray player seems a bit steep, built in or not. Its all down to the price of this telly - is it £597 "as reviewed" or £727 "latest price"?


January 5, 2011, 2:53 am


The KDL-40EX43BU is £597.09 from Southern Electric through Amazon. Amazon's own price is £727.17. (I find Amazon's prices can be pretty fluid, especially during the sales, sometimes changing daily).

So the KDL-40EX43BU for £597.09 or the KDL-40EX403U TV (£399 from Play - good spot) and the BDP-S370 Blu-Ray player (£89.99 from Play) - total £489.98. Enough of a saving for a stonking HDMI cable - or get the same performance from a £2 one ;-)

What price less clutter? I've gone the 'separates' route.

Still, kudos to Sony (and our friendly on-line retailers) for all of these products at these kind of prices - I'd give all of them an easy 10/10 for value.


January 5, 2011, 4:31 am

Again I have to question the overall score of 9/10.

Doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the scores:

2 x 7/10

2 x 8/10

Until you somehow manage to give a better scoring system that reflects the actual product I think your reviews are very flawed - especially as this seems to have been achieved on novelty value and a questionable 10/10 for value.


January 5, 2011, 7:16 am

Thanks Ed for the reply!

This is the site I look to for quality reviews on anything technological. It just seems a shame to not have them when you seem to have all other areas covered. I'd love some high quality mic reviews.

Sorry John to bomb your article like this :s

Martin Daler

January 5, 2011, 2:14 pm

@Stewart - remarkable, once you actually find Southern Electric's site, there it is, actually priced at £543.14 for the Sony KDL-40EX43B LCD TV with Integrated Blu-ray™ Player. I've cut and paste just to be sure, because they also have the Sony KDL-40EX403 Freeview HD LCD TV at £616.49. Can this be right? That makes the integrated Blu-Ray player cost negative £73.35, bargain! Buy it before they realise their mistake?


January 5, 2011, 8:17 pm

Stewart: The KDL-40EX403U is indeed (or was) a bargain at £400. In fact with Freeview HD, BIV, 4 HDMI connections, USB port, and better build and design (albeit slightly bulkier) than equally priced alternatives from Samsung etc, I'd say it has more frills than anyone could reasonably expect for the money. I personally would say £200 more for a built-in Blu-Ray player is not such great value, but then the PS3 serves my Blu-Ray needs quite adequately. Anyway I can't speak for the player but otherwise it's a great TV.


January 6, 2011, 6:18 am

Firstly, it's no innovation. Remember the Amstrad and other cheap and cheerful tvs with a DVD player?

Was it not LG that last year produced a tv with a HDD? So Sony sticks in BD drive!!! Wow.

Secondly, consider this Sony save on chaises/box; AV-connectors (eg HDMI); Power Unit; and few other AV internals of a stand alone. Given you can get a good BD player for around £70 means a factory gate price of £10-20. So work out how much it costs when it is integrated into a tv without most of the components!

If the BD conks out or the TV then you will need the FREE 5 year guarantee.

@"John Lewis for £399 incl 5yr guarantee" that is the right price point. Guess the factory gate price.


January 6, 2011, 7:06 am

Enigma: But what is your point - that Sony dares to try and make a profit on their product? Are they alone in this? £399 (for the standalone TV) remains good value when compared against other similarly featured or similarly priced alternatives, which really is the only sensible way to appraise it. Equally, if a TV with built-in Blu-Ray player is cheaper than buying the two separately, with added benefits (e.g. saving space), then it can be said to represent good value. The fact that consequently Sony are cutting costs and increasing margins is irrelevant to the consumer looking to buy a telly, as it should be. You may disagree but you'll have to level the same complaints at literally every product from every manufacturer featured on this site.

Martin Daler

January 6, 2011, 7:27 pm

Strange is the world of retail. Suddenly the KDL-40EX403 is priced at stupid money. Play, bless them, lifted the price by £200 and put it in the top spot as the "Pick of the Week"! They must think we are all stupid. Next week maybe it will be advertised as 10% off, bargain, etc? Best Buy have it at £649 in store, just to make Play look good! Remember, this same item was at £399 just two days ago. I've seen it in-store at Comet for £449, and in Curry's next door for about £100 more. The story has a happy ending however - its still on the Best Buy website at £399.99 (mysteriously unavailable from any postcode however) - so that is what I paid for it in store. It pays to shop around.


January 6, 2011, 11:38 pm

@MrGodfrey - Hey, if it floats your boat: Be happy, don't worry.

"Best Buy website at £399.99 (mysteriously unavailable from any postcode however)" I have increasingly noticed this practice of Bargain pricing but "Out of stock." and it appears to be one of the retailers latest marketing tricks.

Martin Daler

January 7, 2011, 4:57 am

@Enigma I think it's called "Bait and Switch".


January 7, 2011, 8:29 am

@Martin Daler, Yup! Or "fraud"! I first noticed this on the internet a couple of years ago but I have only began to see it in high street stores this year. Obviously given the expression it's not new.

Ironically, I think in one instance it has caught out one leading supermarket which has in response (I guess) reduced it's price to it's rival's same "out of stock" product. Good news for me.

The other trick I have seen is to advertise as reduced price but in fact they have correspondingly reduced the content. Of course the punters don't look at the details and get caught out.

Like this Sony TV: punters (and of course the sale staff) will look at it as getting a TV + BD Player equivalents and see the savings equivalently when they are not as noted above!


January 7, 2011, 5:33 pm

Priced at £399 in the latest Richer Sounds flyer. That said the standard definition upsampling is still quite soft.


January 8, 2011, 1:33 am

I got the 403 from John Lewis for £350 in exchange for the money and a very old portable CRT :) Having said that, it could have been an expensive experiment to discover how much I hated LCD had I not been able to sell it on for £400.

The TV under review here is now £604 supplied direct by Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sony-K...

Sometimes the prices you find via Google are actually Amazon Marketplace sellers - not the same at all :(


January 8, 2011, 8:31 pm

Enigma: As I said the Blu-Ray combo doesn't appeal to me, but nor do I see it as a heinous attempt to defraud people. As for obtaining the 40EX403 for £400, that does indeed assist the buoyancy of my dinghy. Not because it appears cheap compared to the ludicrous £600+ prices being charged by other retailers, but because the quality and features stand out in comparison to other sets priced around £400. This was my point, that "value for money" is relative and not simply based on, say, the amount of markup. Naturally if it were possible I would love to be able to obtain all my gadgets at the factory gate price :)


January 8, 2011, 9:30 pm

@MrGodfrey - I am happy for you now that your dinghy's buoyant. I hope you are getting the 5 year free warranty too?

However, you contradict yourself: you consider it "value for many" at £400 but not on the basis of mark-up!? Price depends on mark-up and hence "value for money". Clearly if the mark up was higher as in the case of the retailers charging £600+ makes it poor value for money in comparison to the rival's sets. Of course factory-gate price would b nice and even nicer at production cost price!!! but then we might start seeing pigs getting buoyant! ;-)

The fraud issue is something else. You'll have to re-read what I and @Martin were talking about.

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