If TVs could feel pressure, Sony’s KDL-40HX723 would probably be chained to the toilet right now, stomach knotted with nerves. For at the risk of making its performance anxiety even worse, potentially Sony’s entire year depends on the 40HX723 delivering the goods.
After all, so far Sony’s 2011 has been an annus horribilis, at least where 3D is concerned. For both the 2011 Sony 3D sets we’ve tested to date, the 32EX723 and its bigger 40EX723 brother, have proved pretty disastrous when required to venture into the third dimension, with their 3D pictures suffering so much crosstalk (double ghosting noise) that they’ve been frankly unwatchable.
As we say, then, the 3D-capable 40HX723 arrives with the weight of the world on its shoulders, needing to prove - emphatically - that Sony really does know its 3D onions.
Fortunately it looks on paper, at least, like the 40HX723 might be up to the task. It sits a couple of steps further up Sony’s TV range than the EX723 series, and justifies this position by employing Sony’s MotionFlow XR 400 video system. This essentially means the 40HX723 can deliver video with an equivalent refresh rate double that of the EX723s - a potentially very handy trick when it comes to dealing with crosstalk.
Joining the active 3D/increased refresh rate headliners on the 40HX723’s spec sheet is its compatibility with Sony’s Bravia Internet Video (BIV) online service. For us, BIV represents the best of the current ‘smart TV’ systems, for the simple reason that it concentrates almost exclusively on supplying what you actually want on a TV: on-demand video content.
Service providers include the BBC iPlayer, the Demand 5 Channel 5 catchup service, Sky News, Eurosport, Lovefilm, a ‘World of Sony’ collection of classic TV series, and Sony’s Qriocity subscription service. And this really is just the tip of the video-streaming iceberg.
The 40HX723 also provides Facebook and Twitter apps, as well as a Web browser and Skype functionality if you cough up for an optional webcam. It’s the video services that provide the focus of Sony’s online efforts, though, and this is just fine by us.
If you’d rather watch stuff stored on your PC or USB sticks, then the 40HX723’s got your back there too. For the LAN port that gets you into BIV can also stream files from DLNA-ready PCs, while two USBs can handle photo, music and video file formats. The USBs can also record from the built-in Freeview HD tuner, or make the TV wi-fi ready via an optional dongle.
Actually, the fact that this dongle is only optional rather than being included as standard is a bit annoying when you think that Samsung’s recently reviewed 40in 40D6530 3D TV managed to include built-in wi-fi for less than £800, while Sharp’s 3D-capable and 6in bigger 46LE831E managed to include a wi-fi dongle while costing just £1120.
Add to all this the fact that the 40HX723 also doesn’t ship with any 3D glasses included as standard, and there really is no denying that the 40HX723 looks a little expensive for a 40in TV. So that’ll be even more pressure on its performance, then!