Review Price £569.99
The highlights of BIV network are the BBC iPlayer, the Demand 5 Channel 5 catch up service, a Sky News headlines video service, YouTube, LoveFilm, and The World of Sony, which provides access to all sorts of Sony archive material, including music videos, film trailers and, best of all, full episodes from some of Sony’s TV series, including Rescue Me and - YES! - the first season of Diff’rent Strokes.
There are also countless other video sources besides, taking in everything from ‘How To’ guides to HD video showcases and golf tips. The set even supports Skype, something that’s reserved for premium sets only with some other brands (Samsung!).
The bottom line is that while Bravia Internet Video (currently, at least) doesn’t currently have much at all going on where gaming and infotainment apps are concerned, it’s streets ahead of its rivals in terms of video content. And so far as we’re concerned, video content is king with this whole ‘Smart TV’ malarkey.
The 40CX523 even carries an Internet browser, even though this isn’t particularly easy to use due to its text being rather small, and predictable issues with navigating web pages and inputting web addresses using a TV remote control.
It’s good to see, too, that the 40CX523 employs the same improved onscreen menu system as the 32EX723. This finds the twin-axis menu system appearing along the right and bottom edges of the screen while a reduced-size version of the TV programme you were watching appears unblemished in the top left portion of the screen.
The new menus organise the Bravia Internet Video content much more succinctly, though there’s still room for improvement as the amount of icons strewn across the bottom of the screen still feels intimidating and requires a while to learn your way fully around.
Finding the full Bravia Internet Video system and Skype on the 40CX523 is a real boon considering its entry level status.
The 40CX523 perhaps lives down to its price rather by only having 50Hz scanning, but it isn’t entirely without its processing attractions, since it sports Sony’s new X-Reality engine, designed to add detail to standard definition pictures while also suppressing noise. And it works rather well, actually. Certainly standard definition upscaling isn’t the very best we’ve seen, but it does look decently sharp and noise levels are definitely kept in check.
Or at least that’s the case when there isn’t much motion going on. For there’s no doubt that motion is affected by noticeable blurring, especially when watching standard definition pictures.
Having set off down a negative trail with this talk of motion blur, we might as well add that the 40CX523 has another slight problem in the shape of a rather hollow look to very dark parts of the picture. The screen is obviously having to take quite a bit of brightness out of the picture to achieve a credible black colour during dark scenes, and it’s this that results in shadow detail getting squeezed out of the picture.