This might seem a bit of a strange thing to say at the start of what you’ve doubtless already noticed is going to be a very positive review, but frankly I found testing the KDL-40EX503 a royal pain in the backside.
The thing is, I live in Derbyshire. This is not usually a bad thing in itself, of course - aside from it requiring me to support the ‘Ramtastic’ football club that boasts the record for the lowest tally of points ever recorded in a Premiership season. But living in Derbyshire is definitely problematic if you’re a TV reviewer who’s just received the first commercially available TV able to receive the new (they launched in December) Freeview HD broadcasts.
According to the latest information from the Freeview HD coverage checker on freeview.co.uk, my postcode is not going to be getting Freeview HD broadcasts until 2011. Not next week, not next month, but next year! Needless to say, 12 months seemed a bit of a long time to wait before there was any point getting the 40EX503 out of its box to review. So I had no choice but to come up with a drastic contingency plan. A contingency plan called Neil.
For Neil it is who happens to be both a mate and a bloke with a house within comfortable reception distance of the Crystal Palace broadcasting transmitter - one of the only two transmitters (the other being Winter Hill near Blackburn) broadcasting Freeview HD at the time of writing.
Obviously catching up with a mate I hadn’t seen for ages was quite nice. Not quite so nice was having to load the TV and all my testing gear up into my car, and hot-foot it from Derbyshire to deepest London - all without, I might add, any expenses being added to my usual review charge. Outrageous!
Of course, many of you will probably consider all this but a small price to pay for the chance to get early dibs on a Freeview HD TV. But I have to say I find it a bit ludicrous that in 2010 we have a situation where a really quite key bit of technological innovation is only available initially to people lucky enough to live in the right postcode. Especially as I don’t remember dear Aunty Beeb offering me any refund on my license fee until I was able to get the same level of service that other parts of the country are getting. Freeview HD = ‘free HD for all’? Pah!
Before I get too worked up, though, it’s high time I pointed out that precisely none of what I’ve been ranting about in the previous paragraphs is the fault of Sony’s 40EX503. This is simply a TV that’s designed to receive Freeview HD broadcasts whenever - and wherever - it finds them. It has no say in how fair or otherwise the broadcaster’s HD coverage might be, and would in fact doubtless be ecstatic if Freeview HD was already a national phenomenon. If a TV was capable of having feelings.
So let’s put the griping behinds us - until the next Freeview HD TV arrives through my door, at any rate - and start focussing on the specifics of the 40EX503.