The Sony 42W653A does, though, cling to Sony’s new, improved, icon-heavy setup menu system, which includes the Reality Creation processing options – Resolution, noise filtering and Smooth Gradation - associated with the X-Reality Pro chipset. There are many other processing options too, including a detail booster, a white booster, an edge enhancer and a skin naturaliser – though actually we’d suggest leaving most of these untouched. Of much more use is a white balance adjuster, with which you can refine the gain and bias of the RGB colour elements.
With Sony’s picture standards this year veering between the superb (the W905A and X9005A series) and the average (the W805A series), we really have no idea what to expect from the 42W653A’s pictures. So without further ado, let’s put them through their paces.
Right away the Sony KDL-42W653A 's pictures make a hugely positive impression by delivering a much more convincing black level response than the 47W805 model higher up Sony’s current range. In fact, its ability to deliver a black colour during dark scenes that’s barely besmirched at all by low-contrast grey misting is really outstanding for a sub-£600 42-inch TV, even humbling the black level response of many much costlier rivals from a variety of brands this year.
It’s not just the sheer depth of the 42W653A’s black colours that impresses, either. We were also seriously relieved to see no significant evidence during dark scenes – even in the image’s corners - of the backlight clouding/inconsistency problem still common with edge LED screens.
Also telling about the quality of the 42W653A’s edge LED lighting is that the black bars that appear above and below wide-ratio films remain completely consistent in their blackness, even when sections of the image appearing between them are really bright.
And there’s more. For while it’s true that the Sony 42W653A’s post-calibration images aren’t the brightest in the LCD firmament, the panel’s native contrast performance is sufficiently good that you can still see a credible amount of shadow detail in dark areas of the picture, ensuring that dark scenes don’t feel frustratingly flat and hollow.
Connected with this, the 42W653A’s impressive native black level also helps it produce strikingly natural colours during dark scenes for such an affordable TV.