You may have noted, too, that I’ve yet to make any mention of wireless functionality with the 40V5500. The reason for this is simply that the set doesn’t support it! There’s no wireless receiver/transmitter built into the TV, and unlike Samsung’s online TVs, you can’t add wireless functionality via an optional dongle inserted into the USB port.
Having to hardwire the TV to your broadband connection – not always an easy job, depending on the site of your router/phone line – is a potential aggravation that to be honest feels hard to swallow in today’s Wi-Fi age, and adds to the rather ‘unfinished’ feel of the 40V5500’s Internet functionality.
Turning to other key features of the 40V5500, I quickly found a couple of interesting ‘eco’ tricks: a two-stage power saving system that knocks back the output of the backlight, and the facility to actually switch the picture off if you’re ‘watching’ something where the only thing that really matters is the audio track.
A more common eco element carried by the 40V5500 is a light sensor, so that the picture’s brightness can be automatically adjusted in response to the amount of ambient light in your room.
When it comes to picture quality, I was intrigued to find that the 40V5500 sports the latest generation of Sony’s Bravia Engine video processing, cunningly called Bravia Engine 3. And although we haven’t been furnished with full details of all its improvements and refinements, we have been assured that Bravia Engine 3 is no mere slight upgrade. Indeed, the chipset driving it has been redesigned more or less from scratch.
Not that Bravia Engine 3 is the only processing trick of note. An advanced picture adjustment submenu also gives you control over a host of further processing tweaks, such as Sony’s vibrancy-boosting Live Colour system and a black correction tool. Blu-ray fans, meanwhile, will be pleased to learn that the 40V5500 features Sony’s 24p True Cinema mode, for enhanced 1080p/24 playback.
All in all, despite not finding any 100Hz processing (for that you’ll have to step up to Sony’s new W5500 range), there’s enough going on behind the scenes of the 40V5500’s pictures to raise real hopes about how good they might be. And for a while, at least, it seems as if the 40V5500’s picture performance will more than live up to our hopes.
Take its colours, for instance. They’re startlingly good, looking sensationally rich and bright but crucially also eye-catchingly natural and believable, especially with high definition fare.
Such a definitive colour performance can only be achieved if a TV has a credible black level response, and this is certainly true of the 40V5500. Dark scenes suffer less tell-tale greyness than the vast majority of rival LCD TVs, producing the deepest black levels Sony has yet managed outside of its 55X4500 LED TV.
Concerns I’d had about the lack of 100Hz processing on the 40V5500 prove largely unfounded, too. For it actually handles motion very well, with, for instance, football players charging around the screen without losing severe amounts of detail and clarity. Camera pans can look a little stuttery and indistinct if they’re really fast, but for the most part there’s nothing motion-wise to complain about here given the 40V5500’s reasonable price point.