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Sony Bravia KDL-40HX803 review

John Archer



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Review Price £898.95

Sony’s first 3D TV is finally here, in the 40in shape of the KDL-40HX803. And to be honest, we’re not expecting very much. For whenever we’ve seen Sony 3D TVs in action at big shows, they just haven’t looked as good as those of some rivals. So let’s hope the Japanese brand has managed to cram in plenty of last minute improvements!

Rather surprisingly, the 40HX803 doesn’t wear Sony’s new and rather stylish Monolith design. Instead you get a straightforward but sleek black bezel for the top, right and left sides, with a slightly proud metallic strip along the bottom edge. The set still looks nice, though, for all its non-Monolithic approach.

It doesn’t do the 40HX803‘s aesthetic impact any harm, either, that it employs edge LED lighting to deliver a reasonably slender profile. Though it’s nothing like as slim as Samsung’s edge LED icons. What’s more, its edge LED system is a dynamic one, meaning that sections of the edge lighting can be independently controlled for a hopefully more impressive contrast performance than you usually get with a standard edge LED-lit LCD TV.

Slightly surprisingly for such a slim screen, Sony has left most of its connections facing straight out of the TV’s rear, rather than using the side access approach that would suit wall hanging. But at least the number and variety of these connections is pretty prodigious.

For instance, it has four HDMIs, all built to the v1.4 specification, so that they’re compatible with 3D sources. Also of note are a USB input, an Ethernet port, and a 3D Sync terminal, which we’ll look at in turn.

The USB can play music, video and photo files directly into the TV, but also allows you to add Wi-Fi to the 40HX803 via an optional USB dongle. It’s a touch disappointing that the 40HX803 doesn’t carry built-in Wi-Fi for its money, but it’s hardly alone in preferring the optional upgrade route.

The Ethernet socket, meanwhile, has three uses. First, it supports the set’s built-in Freeview HD tuner, to deliver potential future interactive services like the BBC iPlayer. Second, it provides a wired means of importing files stored on a DLNA PC. Finally, it allows you to take the TV online to experience Sony’s Bravia Internet Video platform, which we’ll return to in a minute.

But first we’ve got to discuss the 3D Sync terminal. This is there because the 40HX803 doesn’t have a built-in 3D transmitter, unlike the Samsung and Panasonic 3D TVs we’ve tested. In fact, the 40HX803 doesn’t have 3D facilities at all in its standard form. You have to add an optional extra transmitter and optional pairs of active shutter glasses, with the transmitter costing £50 and the glasses setting you back £99 per pair. This effectively makes the 40HX803 £1,887 if you want 3D with two pairs of glasses.

We do understand Sony’s idea with this, to be fair. For it helps keep the 40HX803’s up-front price down, allowing people to add 3D later as their finances allow. But there’s no getting round the fact that once you’ve 3Ded it up, the 40HX803 hits a similar price level to Samsung’s 40C8000 integrated 3D TV. In other words, 3D continues to be very much a premium technology.

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July 13, 2010, 2:25 pm

Good Review Thanks

Just a couple of points

Missing info on response time (lag) which I think is an important point, especially with this particular model I believe

You said it is one of the best pictures for an Edge LED LCD yet you gave it 8 for picture presumable this is cos of the 3d crosstalk, what about separating the 2D and 3D image quality score thus giving a fairer representation.

I think it's a very interesting model from Sony, no monolithic design yet its obviously from the same ilk as its brethren, makes me wonder why?

on the the value side if you're willing to shop about and not just on Google, there are plenty of deals for this and the lager 46" which until just recently was available at a pre-order price.

Personally I think with more 3D models from Sony the actual retail prices will fall to the pre-order price very quickly, added to that with the hype of 3D falling until maybe 3D Gran Turismo or Killzone 3D kicks it up again I think by winter all 3D TV's will be a hell of a lot cheaper


July 13, 2010, 3:09 pm

@HeyZuZe - not sure whether you're talking about pixel response time or input lag, but quite a few readers, including myself, have been asking for input lag figures for quite a while now. Despite staff member Ed saying in the Samsung UE55C8000 review comments that they would look into the issue, there is no indication that input lag figures will be introduced into reviews.

Regarding these wireless USB dongles, will any USB wireless adapter do, or does it have to be a specific Sony branded dongle (which will not doubt cost 3x as much)?


July 13, 2010, 3:17 pm

A smaller Panasonic would be just great for me - I've tried the current ones in a shop and I was ready to buy it but it just won't fit in the lounge.


July 13, 2010, 3:32 pm


Sorry not be clear, i was indeed referring to Input Lag

Also I got told in a Sony Center that you do need to use there USB dongle, but that just might be to try and get me to buy one.


July 13, 2010, 6:20 pm

hmm the standard e version of this telly is under £600 pounds,what is the other £1000 spent on?a different processor worth a few quid?


July 13, 2010, 6:47 pm



ronesh amin

July 13, 2010, 8:14 pm

"In other words, 3D continues to be very much a premium technology."

I disagree. Samsung have a Plasma 3D Ready TV with all the knobs and whistles on like its LED variants for as little as £1299 if you shop around a bit online (the PS50C7000). This is for a 50" plasma, which is an amazing price; and for it to be 3D ready as well, you really can't complain.

I just wish TR gets round to reviewing it soon; the rate they review TV's, the newer updated model comes out!


August 9, 2010, 2:13 am

stunning tv...well worth the price...the picture in 2d is bootiful,and the 3d optional package that marks and spencers threw in with stuff worth over 500 pound is a bargain,that included 2 pairs of 3d glasses,a 3d transmitter,speaker bar,cloudy with a chance 3d blu ray and the sdp s470 3d blu ray player,stunning value.you would have to be a right picky so and so,not to get this package..

Mike Price

August 28, 2010, 4:26 pm

Currently available from Sony Centre, with 2 pairs of glasses, the transmitter, a Sony 3d Blu-Ray player and a 3D film, all for £1,299.00! Not bad - the 3D Blu-Ray is meant to be £299 by itself!


September 20, 2010, 4:56 pm

I'm no tech-head (if that term even exists) so have no idea of most of the things said already. All I know is that I bought a 46HX803 last week and tested it using a Blue ray (via a decent Panasonic player and expensive HDMI cable) of Avatar and The Dark Knight and I must admit the picture was not as sharp and vibrant as my existing Samsung 46 inch LCD. The Sony is the stronger TV on paper so I was expecting at least the same quality if not a small uptick. Any suggestions? Is it the settings? I have the sharpness on max, is there an optimum setting for watching Blu-rays?


January 10, 2011, 3:15 am

Well, this model is now available from Currys at £899 (retailing at £1699) in their sale.

Not sure how long they will be at this price, but although the Samsung 40" Internet TV is the same price, with the inclusion of it being 3D ready (without the sync bar and glasses) I think this is a very good buy at present.

Just wish i could get one.


January 15, 2012, 6:21 pm

To be honest, the sound quality is absolutely PITIFUL and a total embarrassment. It is just as well I bought a soundbar within hours of buying this TV. Having said that, the picture quality is simply superb. What a pity Sony considers sound as the poor relation to pictures.


November 6, 2013, 11:12 pm

I've had my Sony Bravia for nearly 3 years, bought from John Lewis for £1300 with D Blueray and 3D glasses etc. I bought the wifi dongle separately and a Sony sound theatre (£200). Since then I've not looked back, the quality of everything has been great. Connecting Windows PCs and playing iTunes through the TV.

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