The 40W5500’s features are much more effective when you start trying to tweak its pictures. One of the single most important discoveries is the ‘Motionflow’ system; Sony’s name for its 100Hz engine, which also interpolates newly calculated frames of image data to make motion look more fluid as well as sharper.
The TV allows you to switch Motionflow off completely, set it to a Standard level, or even set it to a high level if you don’t mind a rather large increase in side effects to gain only a slight increase in motion fluidity.
Other handy stuff includes adjustable standard and MPEG noise reduction circuits, a black correction option, gamma adjustment, Clear White processing, and Sony’s Live Colour system for boosting colour response.
As I would have expected based on my experience with the 46W5500, the 40W5500 is a truly excellent picture performer. Particularly impressive is the set’s black level response, which leaves dark screens suffering far, far less with CCFL-backlit LCD’s common grey mist problem than the vast majority of its rivals.
Obviously, the latest run of LED-based LCD TVs has shifted the goalposts in the black level area, and it’s certainly the case that the 40W5500 doesn’t enjoy such pitch blacks as LED screens. But then the 40W5500 is markedly cheaper than any LED models of a similar size, and its black levels really are excellent by ‘normal’ LCD standards.
This is a good time, too, to announce that I was seldom troubled at all by the backlight inconsistency issue that blighted Sony’s previous range, and has inevitably been a talking point of its new range. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the picture is completely free of inconsistencies; if you look hard enough during almost completely dark movie sequences, you can still see extremely subtle pools of extra brightness in the screen’s corners. But they really only crop up under extreme – and thus rare – circumstances, and so for me can be considered a small price to pay for the general black level excellence.
The 40W5500 is a pretty spectacular colour performer, too. Rich palettes such as those found in your average animated film explode of the screen – especially as their innate vibrancy is combined with those deep black levels I’ve already mentioned, and some pristine whites. Actually, the vibrancy of the 40W5500’s colour response also highlights another strength; namely that the impressive black level response is achieved without having to dim the screen’s brightness as far as I would expect with standard LCD technology.