A further picture strength that Sony has long mastered with its LCD TVs is HD sharpness. Everything from our favourite Blu-rays through to Xbox 360 games and Sky’s HD 20/20 World Cup Cricket coverage looks blisteringly crisp and detailed on the 40W5500 – without, crucially, looking gritty or noisy.
What’s more, thanks to a good innate response time and, possibly, the machinations of the 100Hz Motionflow system, the image doesn’t start to blur badly when the image content contains lots of moving objects, ensuring that the sharpness isn’t only apparent with static HD footage.
Turning to the 40W5500’s standard definition efforts, they’re very good in most ways. Colours retain their brightness and integrity better than we often see with Full HD TVs, and standard definition pictures are rescaled so that they look decently sharp and free of noise.
In fact, as with the 46W5500, the only negative things I can say about the 40W5500’s pictures, aside from the very minor black level consistency issue, are that they lose contrast and colour if watched from the side; can portray a few too many unwanted side effects if you use the High setting for the Motionflow system; and can look a touch waxy when showing standard definition skin tones.
Unlike its pictures, the 40W5500’s sound is respectable rather than inspired. On the plus side, it’s uncannily good at picking out treble details in a dense audio mix without sounding harsh – a talent which helps that mix sound alive and manages to paint a sense of audio space. The mid-range is reasonably open and clear too, with just a slight lack of bass letting the side down.
The 40W5500 is not without its faults. For instance, the Applicast system currently feels half-baked, I’d like to hear more bass in its audio, and there’s room for adding a touch more sharpness to standard definition broadcasts. But just because something isn’t perfect doesn’t mean that it isn’t very good. In fact, even though I would dearly have loved not to be writing a positive review today on the back of so many others of late, the 40W5500 is very good indeed, especially once you’ve taken its unexpectedly aggressive price into account.