Not that the 40HX723 is only commendable for its 3D picture quality, mind you; it’s also a highly accomplished 2D performer. For instance, with the 3D goggles off it’s easier to fully appreciate just how dynamic and vibrant pictures look, completely avoiding the slightly muted tones exhibited by one or two of Sony’s cheaper models.
Also impressive is how much detail the 40HX723 portrays with HD sources - and happily, the exceptional sharpness on show isn’t partnered with lots of noise even if you don’t bother with the various noise reduction systems. In fact, with HD we’d recommend you don’t touch NR with a barge pole!
There’s a small drop off in image clarity when watching images with a lot of motion in them, but it’s not a big deal - especially as there’s no sense of smearing behind the moving objects.
If there’s one area where edge LED TVs regularly come a cropper, it’s reproducing dark scenes. But the 40HX723 does well here too, with black colours that avoid the milky look seen on some LCD TVs.
Using the set’s default settings there is some evidence of the backlight uniformity problems that plague so many edge LED TVs, but considered reduction of the backlight output removes almost all traces of this issue on the 40HX723 without leaving pictures looking too dull or ‘dimming away’ too much shadow detail.
The minor backlight inconsistency issue is arguably more of a problem when watching 3D, where you need the backlight running quite high to counter the dimming effect of the active shutter glasses. But again, it is possible to find a backlight/brightness combination that delivers a good compromise between brightness and backlight uniformity.
Yet another area where the 40HX723 shows real talent is upscaling poor quality sources, be they low bit-rate digital broadcasts or, especially, heavily compressed video streamed from the Internet. Sony has developed its X-Reality Pro upscaling system expressly to work on such compressed source content, and the way it reduces MPEG blocking and other noise while also adding sharpness to low-rent images is genuinely groundbreaking.
With console gamers being passably well catered for by an input lag of around 40ms using the TV’s Game setting, and audio sounding solid if certainly not outstanding, it’s fair to say we’re struggling to come up with many negative things to say about the 40HX723. Aside from the minor backlight consistency situation noted earlier, the only other things that might give you cause for concern are occasional, hard to explain moments of judder during 3D viewing, and the fact that the set’s heavy use of video processing requires more journeys into the onscreen menus than you might normally expect.
Well would you believe it, Sony can produce a good 3D picture after all. In fact, the quality of the 40HX723’s 3D pictures make the problems with the EX723 range look even more like some kind of manufacturing flaw.
The 40HX723 is also an excellent 2D performer, so by the time you’ve added in its BIV online features and multimedia support, you’ve got a very distinguished TV indeed that’s the perfect response to the woes of the EX723 series.
Throwing in some 3D glasses and/or a wi-fi dongle might have made the 40HX723’s price a bit easier to swallow, but if you can afford it, the 40HX723 definitely won’t let you down.