The 40NX803 also delivers the goods when it comes to colour. Saturation levels are high, in the way we’re becoming accustomed to seeing with edge LED sets, and the range of colours on offer is prodigious. There’s good subtlety in the reproduction of colour blends as well, meaning that tricky fare like skin tones and grass consistently looks believable and natural rather than waxy or patchy.
More good news concerns the set’s contrast. For the depth of the black colours the set can reproduce really is very good indeed for edge LED technology, allowing the picture a rich, deep foundation for the vibrant colours to stand out against.
We were struck, too, by just how consistent the screen’s lighting is. Edge LED TVs tend to cause such problems as brighter corners, or a general unevenness of light levels. But even while playing something as obsessed with darkness as the Xbox 360‘s Alan Wake on the 40NX803, we never once became aware of any such light consistency issues at all. Excellent.
Our Alan Wake experience revealed the set’s dynamic contrast system to be accomplished too, as we suffered precious few OTT (and thus distracting) brightness shifts when jumping between the game’s unusually extreme bright and dark sections.
It should be stressed that to achieve the most convincing and consistent black level response you do need to rein the set’s contrast and brightness levels in a bit from their presets. But this is no problem at all in a reasonably dark room environment, and actually we wouldn’t expect it to be a truly significant issue in even a very bright room.
With the Bravia Engine 3 system also doing a good job of upscaling standard definition sources, a hunt for negatives beyond the minor flaws already mentioned uncovers just a couple more. First, there’s a slight hollowness in very dark picture areas vs what a good plasma TV could muster. Though the 40NX803 is actually markedly better than your typical CCFL-lit LCD in this respect.
Second, the picture loses contrast and colour saturation if viewed from much of an angle. But regular readers will know that this is true also of 90 per cent or more of all the other LCD TVs out there.
Sonically the 40NX803 is slightly better than we’d expected it would be. There’s certainly more raw power and dynamic range around than we hear from the slimmer edge LED models of Samsung and LG, which means that action scenes can actually sound quite enjoyable, despite there not being nearly as much bass or treble extension as you’d get with even a pretty basic external sound system.
It’s impossible to ignore the fact that Panasonic’s P42V20 plasma TV can be bought for £100 or so less than its Sony rival, despite being 2in bigger, allowing you to record to USB HDD and producing some terrific plasma picture quality.
But the 40NX803 looks prettier and outguns the Panasonic on multimedia abilities, and is easily one of the best edge LED picture performers we’ve seen yet – especially when it comes to producing a convincing black level.