Having had a bizarrely mixed experience with Sony TVs this year, we’re feeling optimistic about the brand’s KDL-46HX923. After all, this is Sony’s flagship 46in TV, so if any TV is going to show what the brand is capable of when it pushes the boat out, it should be this one.
It certainly looks the part. Its fascia is a gorgeously smooth, seamless one-layer affair with a jet-black bezel and a subtly but attractively (and optionally!) illuminated Sony logo in the centre of the bottom edge. Sony calls this look Monolithic, and we like it. A lot.
The 46HX923 is a bit fatter round the back than most of Sony’s Monolithic designs. But given that we tend to look at TVs from the front this design ‘issue’ doesn’t necessarily bother us that much. Especially as the 46HX923 has a very good excuse for its slight extra bulk, namely that it uses direct LED lighting rather than edge LED lighting.
Experience suggests that this is very good news, as having an array of LED lights directly behind the screen rather than around its edge has consistently delivered a richer contrast performance - especially when, as in the 46HX923’s case, you’ve got a system like Sony’s ‘Intelligent Peak LED system to deliver local dimming, whereby different areas of the picture can be illuminated to separate levels to boost contrast.
The 46HX923’s pictures also enjoy Sony’s currently most powerful video processing system, incorporating Motionflow XR 800 and X-Reality PRO. Motionflow reproduces fast-moving content at the equivalent of 800 frames per second to reduce blur and boost detail levels, while X-Reality PRO is on hand to boost numerous picture elements but particularly the clarity of standard definition and even Internet-sourced video feeds. It’s the clean-up power applied to usually heavily compressed Web video that separates X-Reality PRO from the standard X-Reality system found further down Sony’s range.
As we would expect of any flagship TV this year, the 46HX923 supports 3D playback. And this is full HD active 3D, complete with two pairs of active shutter 3D glasses thrown in for free.
That’s not all Sony is currently giving way with the 46HX923, either. For a start, if you submit a claim form before 31st January 2012 you’ll be entitled to £150 cashback (please note that this discount is included in the £1,649 price we’ve quoted). But also you can currently get the 46HX923 with a free Skype camera accessory and - best of all - with a free PlayStation 3 console, the Unchartered 3 game, two Harry Potter 3D Blu-rays, and vouchers for Harry Potter 1 & 2 on Video Unlimited.
The PS3 PS3/Unchartered 3/Harry Potter deal only runs until 12th December, though, so if you’re interested, you’d better get a shift on.
Actually, this apparent - if temporary in some cases - generosity from Sony is pretty important in trying to make the TV look fair value in these hard times, given that it’s considerably more expensive than your average 46in TV. But then we still strongly believe there should be a place in the TV market for genuinely premium TVs, so long as they deliver something unique or particularly brilliant.
Another key element of the 46HX923’s proposition is its Bravia Internet Video support. This online Sony service is arguably our favourite online TV offering, simply because of its strong focus on delivering on-demand video services such as LoveFilm, Sony’s Qriocity film library, the BBC iPlayer, the Demand 5 Channel 5 catch up service, a 3D content channel, and loads more besides.
Sony has recently added social networking tools to its BIV offering in the shape of Facebook and Twitter apps, plus there’s the already mentioned Skype functionality and a built-in Web browser. Though as usual, this Web browser isn’t exactly fun to use thanks to the sheer difficulties of trying to navigate sites and type Web addresses using the set’s (surprisingly bog-standard) remote control.