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Sony Bravia KDL-52HX903 review

John Archer



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Sony Bravia KDL-52HX903
  • Sony Bravia KDL-52HX903
  • Sony Bravia KDL-52HX903
  • Sony Bravia KDL-52HX903
  • Sony Bravia KDL-52HX903
  • Sony Bravia KDL-52HX903
  • Sony Bravia KDL-52HX903
  • Sony Bravia KDL-52HX903
  • Sony Bravia KDL-52HX903
  • Sony Bravia KDL-52HX903
  • BRAVIA KDL-52HX903 132 cm 52" 3D LCD TV (Direct LED - DVB-T MPEG4, DVB-C MPEG4 - NTSC, PAL, SECAM - HDTV 1080p - 16:9 - 1920 x 1080 - 1080p - Dolby Digital Plus, Surround)


Our Score:


User Score:

While we’ve frequently found ourselves bewildered by Sony’s seemingly wilfully complicated TV model numbering system this year, there’s always been one series that’s 'pinged' on our TV radar rather louder than most: the HX903s. Why? Because they combine 3D readiness with direct LED backlighting - a potentially dream mix.

Straight away, though, there’s a disappointment. For surprisingly, the 52HX903 only does 3D if you add an external 'kit'. This comprises a £49 transmitter and £99 for every pair of 3D glasses you want.

It really seems odd that at least the transmitter wasn’t built into the TV as standard, even if Sony didn’t feel like running to any glasses. And actually, now we come to think of it, with Panasonic’s excellent P50VT20B 3D TV going for just £2,300, which includes both its 3D transmitter and two pairs of (admittedly poor) glasses, we really wouldn’t have minded Sony chucking a pair of glasses or two in with the £3,449 52HX903. After all, if you want to add 3D and enough glasses for a family of four, you’ll be needing to add £445 to the already high price tag. That adds up to nearly four grand for a 52in TV. Ouch.

The optional extra 3D transmitter and glasses

Just as well, then, that the 52HX903 wears a suitably opulent design. This is based on Sony’s 2010 Monolith aesthetic, which comprises a single-layer, glassy-fronted, black-bezelled fascia, given added drama by a screen that goes nearly totally black when the TV is switched off.

You can enhance the already striking design further, too, if you spend yet more money (£260) on the SU-52HX1 brushed aluminium Monolithic Stand, complete with slight back-tilt feature.

It’s also handy given the 52HX903’s high price that it’s fairly expansively connected. It carries four HDMIs, for instance, all of which are built to the v1.4 spec, allowing full 3D support from the latest Blu-ray players. Another highlight is the Ethernet port that lets you access Sony’s Bravia Internet Video platform, which offers the most extensive and varied selection of video content available on a TV to date. Especially with the BBC iPlayer due to be added soon. The Ethernet port also enables you to stream files from DLNA-enabled PCs, and provides the mandatory interactive support for a built-in Freeview HD tuner.

The optional extra Wi-Fi USB dongle

If all this wired stuff sounds old school to you, then you can go 'Wi-Fi', via a USB dongle. However, this dongle isn’t included as standard, costing you yet more money - around £70, in fact. Surely built-in Wi-Fi or at least a free dongle wouldn’t have been too much to ask on a £3,449 TV?

Sony further blots its USB copybook by only providing a single USB port. So if you want to use the USB port to playback photo, music or video files but you’ve also invested in a USB Wi-Fi dongle, then you’ll have to unplug that dongle to insert your USB storage device.

Let’s return now to the key direct LED lighting aspect of the 52HX903. For as we’d expect at this set’s price point, the LED clusters behind the screen can be controlled individually, allowing some areas of the picture to look completely black while others within the same frame can be blasting out with full brightness.


August 24, 2010, 1:16 pm

WiFi built into their BDPS570 Blu Ray Player (£175) but not this £3,449.00 TV.

WiFi USB dongle £70 extra.

One USB port (as stated - wholly inadequate if you use the WiFi dongle).

3D transmitter and glasses optional (expensive) cost extras.

Aluminium stand another cost extra.

Reads like the extras list on a new German car.

Features 9/10....hmmm?


August 24, 2010, 1:48 pm

I'd really like some form of photographic size comparison of these size of TVs. Even if it's a crappy cameraphone picture, just a shot of someone standing next to it would be nice!

ronesh amin

August 24, 2010, 2:30 pm

@ChaosDefinesOrder - I understand why you would want a picture comparison, but there really is no need for TR to do this, when you can walk into any high street retailer and compare it yourself. How would you determine how tall the people standing next to the TV were too - it would mean placing a tape measure there too!

I for one don't understand how Sony can justify charging £3,500 for a 2DTV, and not even add all the bells and whistles to go along with it. I've said this soo many times before, but there is a Samsung Plasma 50" 3DTV for as little as £1100 niw, and can't see why this TV can't be reviewed. Surely, a TV of that size with all the features straight out of the box (unlike Sony's) would garner more hits and would be more insightful for a potential purchaser of a new TV. How many people do TR Reviewers' know that would happily spend £3500 rather than £1100??

Geoff Richards

August 24, 2010, 2:44 pm

@Chaos: the dimensions are listed in the Features Table. You can mark it out on your wall at home (or maybe tape some sheets of newspaper together). TBH a 52-inch TV is a 52-inch TV - bezel width doesn't vary THAT much...

@ronesh: I assume it's a typo when you says "how Sony can justify charging £3,500 for a 2DTV" when it's clearly a 3DTV.

As for the Samsung you mention, I gather you are refering to the PS50C7000? I'm not aware of any special reason why it *can't* be reviewed, so I'm sure John will work his way around to it. He has a lot of different models from various manufacturers in the pipeline.


August 24, 2010, 3:14 pm

I may just be a thicko, but what is the point in the optional stand that you can get for these "monolith" TVs? Specifically, why would anyone want to tilt their screen backwards?


August 24, 2010, 3:40 pm


It's mainly about the stand's minimalist visual appeal - it's a unique look and some people will pay a lot extra for that.

ronesh amin

August 24, 2010, 4:39 pm

@ Geoff Richards - I did actually mean a 2DTV, because it essentially is unless you buy the 'add-on'; therefore the TV is not 3D Ready out the box.

And yes, i did mean the PS50C7000. I can imagine he has a lot of TV's to go through, but it's just frustrating when the TV's which are reviewed are generally ones which can't be purchased by an average consumer. I can imagine though this is more to do with the manufaturers more willing to hand over their flagship models to reveiew instead.

Geoff, are you aware of any reason why Samsung are reluctant to advertise their Plasma models as much as their LED models? from what i have heard (and this would also make a good feature!!) plasma TV's produce 3D content much better than LED variants, so confused as to why Samsung don't seem to give it the marketing push the LED's get. All i can think of is that Samsung must make an amazing profit off the LED's instead!


August 24, 2010, 4:44 pm

I get that, but the whole tilting the screen backwards just doesn't make any sense to me.


August 24, 2010, 7:13 pm

@ronesh - You're being a bit unfair to TR, as they have reviewed loads of TVs that are affordable to the average consumer. I just wish they'd introduce input lag figures, as quite a lot of average consumers play games. They mentioned input lag in a couple of recent reviews (without figures), but seem to have abandoned the idea. They have yet to comment on whether they intend re-introduce this in the future. TR, I bet you are so sick of me!

@Wildkard - I assume the tilting back thing is intended for low furniture. Just a guess.


August 24, 2010, 7:29 pm

Seconded Metalex. So they can be sick of me too.


August 24, 2010, 7:45 pm

@metalex - I gave up with this site for input lag figures

Bought a Sony 46 " HX503 last week strictly for TV viewing for my family, would not dare game on the thing though due to input lag (supposedly 40ms or so)

ronesh amin

August 24, 2010, 8:36 pm

@metalex - i don't feel like i am being harsh. Like i said in my previous post, it is most likely that the manufacturers are more willing to hand over their flagship models rather than the average TV's.

I imagine that TR would appreciate the feedback that people like us give (just like how u are asking for input lag comments). This is the only avenue TR have to get feedback from their readers, and my comments were not made to put down the site or the writers of the article.


August 27, 2010, 1:59 am

Are you able to pass on the settings after calibration John? Unfortunately I cannot use my THX disc as I cannot get the settings on screen the same time as the test pictures. Thanks

Jan Andersen

August 28, 2010, 5:49 pm

Hi John,

Thanks for the review - you wrote:

"But for some reason, possibly the direct LED lighting, more likely the 400Hz Motion Flow processing, the crosstalk issues are neither as common nor as in your face as they were on the 60LX903."

The answer is most probably, that this model is using the new Sharp UV2A panel technology, which is faster than the old conventional LCD technology.

Further - as to the majority of the reviews today, why use so many lines on 3D when 1% of the users sees 3D 1% of the time ?


September 5, 2010, 6:55 pm

will you review the Sony Bravia KDL-46HX903. thanks.

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