Sony LCD TVs have a well-deserved reputation for sharpness with HD material, and to some extent the 40EX503 follows this trend, revealing plenty of detail and texture in HD sources without making pictures look excessively noisy.
There is a touch of motion blur around, particularly during standard def viewing, even with the 100Hz engine in play. But while this stops pictures looking quite as crisp as they do on Sony’s 200Hz sets - or the best sets of some rival brands, especially Philips - it seldom seriously detracts from the overall hugely enjoyable experience of watching the 40EX503 strut its stuff. Especially as the set’s motion processing is very effective at suppressing judder.
It’s worth adding here that the 40EX503’s 100Hz engine goes about its reasonably effective business without drawing undue attention to itself. By which I mean that it doesn’t throw up too many undesirable side effects, such as flickering, edge shimmer, or lag. It’s particularly ‘clean’ if you stick with its standard setting rather than being tempted to try its High mode.
Other likeable things about the 40EX503’s performance find it losing a bit less picture quality than most LCD TVs when watched from an angle, and its screen showing impressively little ambient light interference. In other words, you shouldn’t find the impact of your favourite films being unduly diminished by the unedifying sight of your own ghostly reflection hanging over the action!
Although the 40EX503 certainly isn’t fat, nor does it attain the extreme slenderness we’re looking forward to seeing on Sony’s upcoming new edge LED ranges, I had high hopes that it might be able to use its relative bulk to produce something a bit out of the ordinary when it came to sound performance.
And in one way, it does. For it’s markedly better than many rivals at portraying subtle details in an audio mix - especially at the high end of the audio spectrum. Bird song, background chatter, gentle breezes... anything ambient in a mix emerges with clarity and power.
The set’s mid-range is solid too, able to deliver voices - even rich male ones - without distortion or significant clarity loss, and able to avoid sounding too compressed during action scenes.
The one audio failing is a predictable one for the flat TV world - a fundamental shortage of bass, which can leave raucous scenes sounding one-dimensional and those impressive trebles a little over-dominant.
The KDL-40EX503 is the most revolutionary and groundbreaking TV I’ve seen from Sony for an age - at least in terms of something that’s actually accessible to the mainstream TV buying public.
It’s a shame, obviously, that the TV’s ‘free HD for everyone’ Freeview HD message is undermined so badly by the painfully slow process of upgrading the UK’s terrestrial TV transmitters. But even if you’re not scheduled to get Freeview HD in your area for another year or two, the 40EX503 does more than enough to justify you purchasing one now, safe in the knowledge that your Freeview HD future is secure.