Sony’s X-Reality processing also helps the 40EX723 produce one of the best standard def performances around, upscaling the image’s resolution accurately and naturally, but also doing a brilliant job of kicking source noise into touch. In fact, the 40EX723’s upscaling processing is so sophisticated that it makes even the shoddiest of sources - low-quality digital streams and yucky stuff like video-taped police interviews on the Crime and Investigation Channel - look pretty much as watchable as even the best quality standard def sources. Excellent.
Another string to the 40EX723’s bow that becomes obvious without 3D glasses on is its black level response. We’ve seen a real improvement in how edge-lit LED TVs handle contrast in recent weeks, and the 40EX723 continues the positive trend, managing to deliver really quite inky black colours. So long, at least, as you don’t set the backlight value too high, as this can cause some greyness over parts of the picture that should look black.
There’s a tiny bit of backlight inconsistency right in the screen’s corners during dark scenes, which again becomes worse if you ramp up the backlight setting too high. But with keeping the backlight to 7 at its highest and probably 5 if your room isn’t too bright keeps this distracting flaw at bay.
Colours are subtly delineated and quite natural, meanwhile, and there are no problems with striping over colour blends or any colours looking too dominant.
One thing colours aren’t, though, is particularly vibrant. Even if you use the set’s Dynamic preset (which we wouldn’t recommend unless your room is really bright, as it can leave some colours looking ‘forced’) there’s still a degree of intensity less than you get from edge LED sets from the likes of LG, Samsung and Sharp. In fact, the image generally is rather short of brightness post calibration, looking more like a year or two old plasma model in luminance terms.
One further niggle is that motion doesn’t look quite as pin sharp as we’d like. There are no significant judder issues, especially as the ‘Clear’ mode of the set’s TruMotion system can remove any judder you might occasionally see in the picture without generating many unwanted side effects at all. Nor is there trailing behind motion. But there is a sense of lost resolution when there’s a lot of movement or, especially, when there’s a camera pan across the screen.
The 40EX723’s audio, finally, is average. It holds its own with undemanding source footage, but push it harder with a thumping action movie sequence, and things start to sound flat and unconvincing, with the bare minimum of bass and a lack of punch and clarity in the mid-range.
If you buy the 40EX723 as a 2D set only, it’s a solid - though not spectacular - option for its money. Especially thanks to its excellent online system. However, if you have even the slightest idea that you might one day want to watch 3D on your TV, you should steer clear of the 40EX723.
Sony is sending us its step-up 3D model, the HX723, in the next few days, so we can only pray that this gets Sony’s 3D journey back on track...