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Sony Bravia KDL-40EX503 40in LCD TV - Sony Bravia KDL-40EX503

John Archer

By John Archer


  • Recommended by TR
Sony Bravia KDL-40EX503 front


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User Score

Review Price £569.99

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.

Sony Bravia KDL-40EX503 front angle

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.

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March 23, 2010, 11:47 am

Any time to test input lag, John? I'm on the verge of buying a Samsung for its excellent value-for-money regarding picture quality, but the only thing stopping me are the reports of some unplayable games. I'd like to think as a console maker, Sony's tellies can accommodate its own intensive gaming better, no?

Hamish Campbell

March 23, 2010, 12:41 pm

Don't suppose they'll be bringing the video playback over usb and improved applicast to early sets...grissle grissle.

Applicast is really poo, but in theory that should get these new options as well as sits there and says there will be more content coming. Well, one can live in hope.


March 23, 2010, 3:19 pm

Where I live we are in the mad position of currently not having any freeview at all (only channels 1-4 on terrestrial), but are switching over starting tommorow (I live in stroud in the West region) and in 2 weeks when switchover completes we get freeview HD! I can understand it makes sence to add HD when switching transmitters but i think its a bit riduculous we have had to wait till 2010 for digital at all!


March 23, 2010, 4:51 pm

@GoldenGuy - Unfortunately Trusted Reviews have said they won't be introducing input lag figures into their TV reviews. This is dissapointing for a review site that covers a wide range of technology, including games consoles where input lag figures are important. To me, this limits the usefulness of TV reviews here, as input lag is one of the most important, yet overlooked, considerations when choosing a TV.


March 23, 2010, 6:38 pm

What's the difference like between Freeview HD and Freesat?


March 23, 2010, 9:26 pm

Thanks Metalex - that is a (another) disappointment indeed.


I think the only difference is that that Freesat/Freesat HD service requires you to install a digital satellite dish on your house. But the 'free' still means free - there is no subscription; you still just pay for the decoder box (or the price is included in Freesat-integrated TVs).

Tony Walker

March 24, 2010, 4:46 am

Eh oop lad, yuv fairled yerr baaaysic Lancastrian geeogruffi.

It's Booorlton that the big metal TV thingie is near. Blackbrrn is about 3 times as far.


March 24, 2010, 1:29 pm

Totally back the calls for TR to look at input lag in TV reviews. It's not like the readership of this site, or indeed the writership (?) don't play console games!


March 24, 2010, 2:36 pm

It looks like the demand is there for input lag figures to be included in TV reviews, so does anyone from Trusted Reviews have any comments on whether or not this might be included in the future? If not, why not?


March 24, 2010, 10:15 pm

@haim: I went out and bought their previous generation TV four months ago, so I am completely with you on the Applicast bashing. I have tried to write to customer service to lobby for a firmware upgrade, no answer yet, I am still crossing my thumbs.

I don't think they would loose a lot of customers by sending a little love to the previous models, after all, who changes their set every year?

If they did bring internet TV to older models it would certainly get some stars in my book, and my next TV down the line might very well be a Sony again.

Horace Coker

March 25, 2010, 1:14 am

I've just checked on the Sony website and there is a 37" version of this telly - yippeeeeeee!!


March 25, 2010, 2:41 pm

Dear John Archer/Trusted Reviews!

Last year you reviewed the 46" W5500 and gave it a 9 for picture quality.

Now you give EX503 a 9 for it's picture quality.

Has the standard changed in one year? Are there any significant change in picture quality between EX503 series and W5500 series?

It is now possible to get a 52W5500 at almost the same price as a 46EX503. Wich would you recomend for me to buy? I care more about the picture quality than the size.


April 3, 2010, 2:06 pm

Hi Snunlefot,

Between the EX503 and the W5500, in terms of picture quality there isn't a massive difference at all, the backlight issues seem to be sorted with this model, other than that i'm sure its pretty much the same. The main benefit of this model is the features really

kwg uk

May 13, 2010, 11:34 pm

Interesting read, hope the qualities translate down to the 32" model


July 27, 2010, 11:49 am

The input lag is supposed to be 60ms in game mode for this set according to another review, which is quite high. However I have bought this TV, (actually the European model, KDL-40EX500) tested the several FPS games, did not notice any input lag at all in game mode. (BF2, Call of Juarez, Farcry 2)Tried moving around the mouse pointer rapidly as well, it responded immediately. What I had to get used to at first was actually the large size of the screen, otherwise games look and play awesome on it.


September 2, 2010, 4:16 pm

I have heard rumour that input lag may be less on the VGA port.


April 29, 2011, 12:40 am

What I like about sony Bravia is its outer sleek looks and the color of the body

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