Joining the 40HX853’s awesome contrast in helping to put a huge smile on our face is its extreme colour range. Some previous Sony TV generations have tended to look a touch muted in the colours department, but here colours across a huge spectrum practically explode off the screen. There’s nothing vulgar about this, though; colours still contain all the tone and blend subtleties needed to ensure they look ‘real’ (rather than flat and cartoony), and the palette looks impressively natural.
This naturalism is particularly striking during dark scenes, as colours avoid the greyish or bluish overtones common with even very good LCD TVs.
HD images, meanwhile, are spectacularly sharp and detailed - and this sharpness scarcely deteriorates at all when the image contains a lot of motion thanks to Sony’s outstanding picture processing. You have to be a bit careful which of the many available motion processing settings you use; we found the least powerful options to work best. But even if you don’t use any motion processing at all the 40HX853 still looks extremely clean no matter how much pressure it gets put under by an action movie.
With the 40HX853’s standard definition upscaling also impressing, adding lots of sharpness without emphasising noise, pretty much our only reservation with the 40HX853’s picture quality comes when watching 3D. For despite the TV using a native 200Hz panel, there’s still just a trace of crosstalk ghosting noise over some bright, distant objects.
However, the amount and aggressiveness of this crosstalk is hugely reduced compared with the horror show witnessed with some of Sony’s 2011 3D TVs, and is ultimately overwhelmed by plenty of 3D strengths. Namely good levels of brightness and colour saturation even with Sony’s 3D glasses on, excellent depth resolution, and extreme sharpness when showing 3D Blu-rays, especially with Sony’s hugely impressive Reality Creation processing active.
No free 3D glasses
We must stress here that unfortunately Sony doesn’t include any 3D glasses for free with the 40HX853, so you’ll have to factor those into the TV’s cost. But we’d say the results are worth the investment.
Gamers, meanwhile, will be delighted to hear that the 40HX853 measured only around 33ms of input lag during our tests, which should be low enough to leave you competitive at Call of Duty or Battlefield 3.
As if the 40HX853 hadn’t already done enough to blow us away, it’s also in a class above most flat TVs with its sound - so long as you use the speaker-bearing stand, at least, for this produces quantities of bass and raw power that it’s hard to imagine any normal integrated TV speaker system being able to match.
It turns out that we needn’t have worried. On the evidence of this 40in model Sony’s HX853 series really is as good as we remember it being. It takes edge LED performance to significant new heights and throws in a content-rich online service for good measure - all for a price keen enough to make many of its rivals blush.