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Sony Bravia KDL-40NX803 - Performance and Verdict

John Archer

By John Archer

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Sony Bravia KDL-40NX803

Summary

Our Score:

9

The 40NX803 also delivers the goods when it comes to colour. Saturation levels are high, in the way we’re becoming accustomed to seeing with edge LED sets, and the range of colours on offer is prodigious. There’s good subtlety in the reproduction of colour blends as well, meaning that tricky fare like skin tones and grass consistently looks believable and natural rather than waxy or patchy.

More good news concerns the set’s contrast. For the depth of the black colours the set can reproduce really is very good indeed for edge LED technology, allowing the picture a rich, deep foundation for the vibrant colours to stand out against.

We were struck, too, by just how consistent the screen’s lighting is. Edge LED TVs tend to cause such problems as brighter corners, or a general unevenness of light levels. But even while playing something as obsessed with darkness as the Xbox 360‘s Alan Wake on the 40NX803, we never once became aware of any such light consistency issues at all. Excellent.

Our Alan Wake experience revealed the set’s dynamic contrast system to be accomplished too, as we suffered precious few OTT (and thus distracting) brightness shifts when jumping between the game’s unusually extreme bright and dark sections.

It should be stressed that to achieve the most convincing and consistent black level response you do need to rein the set’s contrast and brightness levels in a bit from their presets. But this is no problem at all in a reasonably dark room environment, and actually we wouldn’t expect it to be a truly significant issue in even a very bright room.

With the Bravia Engine 3 system also doing a good job of upscaling standard definition sources, a hunt for negatives beyond the minor flaws already mentioned uncovers just a couple more. First, there’s a slight hollowness in very dark picture areas vs what a good plasma TV could muster. Though the 40NX803 is actually markedly better than your typical CCFL-lit LCD in this respect.

Second, the picture loses contrast and colour saturation if viewed from much of an angle. But regular readers will know that this is true also of 90 per cent or more of all the other LCD TVs out there.

Sonically the 40NX803 is slightly better than we’d expected it would be. There’s certainly more raw power and dynamic range around than we hear from the slimmer edge LED models of Samsung and LG, which means that action scenes can actually sound quite enjoyable, despite there not being nearly as much bass or treble extension as you’d get with even a pretty basic external sound system.

Verdict

It’s impossible to ignore the fact that Panasonic’s P42V20 plasma TV can be bought for £100 or so less than its Sony rival, despite being 2in bigger, allowing you to record to USB HDD and producing some terrific plasma picture quality.

But the 40NX803 looks prettier and outguns the Panasonic on multimedia abilities, and is easily one of the best edge LED picture performers we’ve seen yet - especially when it comes to producing a convincing black level.

Stewart

August 10, 2010, 12:24 pm

Totally agree with you on Sony's model numbering.


Nice review, but no info on the cost of the optional stand or the performance of its integrated speakers?





Why get THX endorsement and pay that greedy parasite George Lucas a licensing fee. Like you say.....


'Not that you have to spend an age fiddling with the 40NX803’s pictures to get some generally very impressive results'

HeyZuZe

August 10, 2010, 2:25 pm

@John archer





"and the recently added BBC iPlayer."





When did the iplayer go live on bravia TV's?? thought it was just Sony Blu-ray players that had it so far, great news if it has

David Horn

August 10, 2010, 4:43 pm

Never seen the point in 200Hz processing, except possibly for sport. Blu-ray comes out in 24p, and other sources look exceptionally strange and almost nausea inducing with the processing turned on.





Recommend instead the el-cheapo 40EX403, which still has Bravia 3, 4 HDMIs, a panel that tests almost perfectly by HD Test, and all the Bravia Internet Video features of this one. Except without iPlayer. Does this really have iPlayer, or did you just count your chickens before they were hatched? ;-)





I do like the silver stand, though I think at that price it should be included!

DrMaustus

August 10, 2010, 6:34 pm

". . .the 40NX803 is easily one of the best edge LED picture performers we’ve seen yet - especially when it comes to producing a convincing black level."





In general terms, are these black levels approaching, or even surpassing, the black levels delivered by Panasonic's plasma TVs? I'm thinking of replacing my Panasonic and I'd like to go LED, but not if it means a significant reduction in contrast.





Cheers!

HeyZuZe

August 11, 2010, 2:16 pm

hmmm looked at three different bravia's last night and NO iplayer so this make me think the reviewer just didn't bother testing these features on the 40NX803 and just maide assumptions based on his previous experiences with Sonys platform on a blu-ray player, so what els dose the review do this on say the 200Hz or the picture quality





you can imagine it "oh yea i remember the last sony i look at had a good picture and this one is the model up so it must be slightly better" 9/10 for you then.





is anybody els not worried by this a reviewer not actually testing what he is reviewing.





dose he realize that people might actually buy a product from his good review. think the lesson here is look elsewhere for your "trusted" reviews.





I love the site but again I would ask it to pull its socks up.

evan fotis

August 11, 2010, 4:09 pm

which panasonic plasma do you own?


generally speaking even if an lcd with led backlight in theory surpasses a plasma black levels, that will happen only when viewing head on and within a small range, yet the plasma will offer better overall image quality and deeper black levels from all angles in real world circumstances, and at a better price.

John Archer

August 11, 2010, 6:29 pm

Hi all





Couple of things to add in response to your comments here.





First, regarding the iPlayer, I was told at a recent Sony event that the iPlayer was launching onto Sony's TVs before my review of the 40NX803 went 'live'. But it turns out after chatting to Sony today (August 11) that while the iPlayer is, as HeyZuze points out, already available on Sony's Blu-ray players, it's been delayed on TVs for a couple of months. All Sony will commit to date wise now is 'the 4th quarter'. But it is definitely coming!





As for DrMaustus' comment concerning Panasonic black levels, no, not even this impressive edge LED set can better Panasonic's plasmas - provided, that is, that you go for one of Panasonic's latest NeoPDP models, which start from the G20 series up.

Frank 7

September 8, 2010, 2:14 pm

Hi. I have read all the latest reviews of Sony televisions, I find it very difficult choosing wich one to go for. Im not interested in 3D or network connections, just a very good 46 inch TV. I have digital TV signals, if that matters. Good motion is important.


A screen without to many refletions would be great, but I understand that its difficult to find that.


Frank

Dan Bernard

November 19, 2010, 9:34 pm

John, thanks for a very useful review. One question - are your comments re. the sound quality on the TV with or without the optional silver stand with its built-in supplementary speakers?

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