Considering that it’s surprisingly affordable for a full HD, 40in LCD TV from a premium brand, the 40D3500 is passably well stocked with features. The single most significant of these is Sony’s Bravia Engine image processing system, designed to boost colours, contrast, motion clarity, detailing and noise suppression. Even though the 40D3500 only gets the most basic version of the Bravia Engine (as opposed to the EX and Pro versions found higher up the Sony tree), that should still be enough to produce likeable results based on past experience.
Live Colour Creation, meanwhile, uses a mixture of processing and a wide colour gamut backlight system to produce a claimed 30 per cent more colour range than conventional LCD technology. Plus there’s a Photo TV HD process claimed to reproduce digital still photographs in their optimal quality, Sony’s ‘S-Force’ pseudo surround sound mode, picture-and-picture facilities, and both MPEG and standard noise reduction facilities.
In many ways the 40D3500 puts its various picture aids to good use. Colours, for instance, are something of a triumph, boasting a combination of terrific vibrancy (a more expressive range than we’re used to seeing with LCD) and best of all, the most natural tones we’ve yet seen from a Sony LCD TV. In fact, precious few flat TVs from any rival brand deliver colours so subtle and credible, especially where skin tones are concerned. The full HD resolution helps colour blends look finer, too.
The 40D3500 also impresses with its contrast. Bright whites look crisp and devoid of the yellowish tone that can trouble many LCD TVs, while dark scenes benefit from some impressively deep black levels besmirched by pleasingly little of the clouding or blue undertone that affects many LCDs – including this Sony’s own predecessors.
The black level response is not, it has to be said, anything to rival that of Pioneer’s KURO sets. But then to be honest this is no more than we would have expected.
Relatively static HD images, meanwhile, highlight another benefit of the 40D3500: its exceptional sharpness. Fine details are rendered with total, noiseless precision, giving the image exactly the sort of ‘snap’ we love to see with our HD stuff. Plus the image tends to look more three-dimensional thanks to all the background detail that’s resolved.
The Bravia Engine system is additionally to be congratulated for removing noise of pretty much all types from pictures of both HD and SD flavours.