The impressive natural black level response of the screen also means that Sony’s local dimming system is the most effective we’ve seen on an edge LED screen. Though we personally still chose to deactivate it, for we could still see faint 'blocks' of light inconsistency when bright objects appear against mostly black background.
Given how black the 40HX803 can go, we were also impressed by how light and clean bright image elements look even when they’re appearing amid general blackness.
Colours are dynamic, natural and vibrant, meanwhile, and there’s enough subtlety in the set’s detailing and colour processing to stop colour blends creating 'stripes' or blocky skin tones.
Elsewhere, the set seldom suffers with major motion blurring, judder or smearing issues; HD pictures look crisp and detailed; and standard definition pictures are respectably if not immensely sharply translated to the screen’s Full HD resolution by the Bravia Engine 3 system.
We do have a few concerns with the 40HX803’s images, though, beyond the 3D crosstalk. First, the screen is fairly limited with respect to its effective viewing angle. Also, its screen proved a little more reflective of light in our room than we’d ideally have liked, and finally the 2D to 3D conversion circuit is only passably effective. It doesn’t create as great a sense of depth as the Samsung system, to the point where we didn’t really bother with it. Though on the upside, at least the Sony’s ultra-safe approach results in less depth inaccuracies.
These picture concerns aren’t our only issues, either. We also found the TV’s remote slightly fiddly, with some over-complicated button layout. The onscreen menus are rather sluggish and long-winded at times too, and the set handles its 3D options very awkwardly, splitting them across two totally different menu suites.
Finally, the 40HX803’s audio is nothing to write home about. It passes muster with ordinary TV fare, but as usual with edge LED TVs, when pushed hard with an action film there’s practically no bass; for instance, the native drum beat that underscores the snake fighting scene near the start of Casino Royale is left almost inaudible. The set also sounds slightly squashed in its mid-range, and treble details can sound peaky thanks to the lack of any balance at the lower end of the spectrum. At least the set can go passably loud without the speakers actually distorting, so that’s something.
Looked at as a 2D TV - which is actually what it is in its 'out of the box' state - the 40HX803 is pretty excellent, producing arguably the best pictures we’ve seen from an edge LED TV to date. So if you’re not interested in 3D, feel free to buy a 40HX803 and be extremely happy with your choice.
If you are interested in 3D, though, the 40HX803 becomes a more considered purchase. For while its 3D pictures are far from the disaster area we’d been worried they might be, its problems with crosstalk noise still represent a substantial concern.