One other slightly surprising little satellite-related feature of the 40Z5800 that popped up during installation is the option to tune the built-in satellite tuner for general DVB-S services rather than Freesat. This effectively means any digital satellite TV service that’s free to air, made to the general (rather than Freesat) DVB-S broadcast standard, and carried by the satellites your Freesat dish is pointing at.
Such open-mindedness is really unusual for Sony, and could make the 40Z5800 a hit among the satellite obsessive fraternity out there. And believe us: we know they really are out there.
Those satellite geeks – said affectionately, I promise – should take note, though, that the 40Z5800 doesn’t support simultaneous installation of Freesat and DVB-S services. You have to make your choice and stick with it, as no flitting between the two platforms is allowed post installation.
Other pertinent stuff to quickly run by you without dwelling on it (due to familiarity from the 46Z5500 review) is the 40Z5800’s heavyweight picture processing duo of MotionFlow 200Hz and Bravia Engine 3.
In assessing the 40Z5800’s picture performance, the first thing I decided to check out was not actually how well it does with Freesat fodder. Instead, I headed straight for the darkness of our ”Dead Space” Xbox 360 game, and the relentless night skies of ”30 Days of Night”. For what I wanted to know right from the off – since the answer would colour the tone of the whole review that follows – was if the 40Z5800 suffers from Sony’s oft-reported issues with black level inconsistency.
And… it doesn’t. Well, not in any significant way, anyway. This is an immediate and major relief, since experience suggests that if a recent Sony TV manages to avoid this killer problem, it tends to do rather well.
In fact, without strange bright patches to spoil them, dark scenes on the 40Z5800 look really very good indeed by straight LCD (as opposed to LED-backlit LCD) standards. Black colours look black rather than a milky grey, yet the set manages to deliver this without sacrificing so much brightness that large amounts of shadow detail disappear into the darkness.
With light, colourful scenes, meanwhile, the 40Z5800 exhibits Sony’s customary flare for brightness and colour vibrancy, while simultaneously proving able to do subtle tones and colour blends. This subtlety is essential, since it makes pictures feel three-dimensional and realistic rather than flat and cartoonish.
At which point I’d probably better have a look at the all-important Freesat broadcasts! Though actually, there doesn’t seem much to say, to be honest. The TV appears to receive Freesat at least as sensitively as Panasonic’s TVs, and appears to decode them equally as well. In fact, presumably thanks to the 40Z5800’s Bravia Engine 3 processing, I’d say that standard definition Freesat pictures look slightly better – crisper, less noisy – than they do on any of Panasonic’s Freesat LCD TVs that I’ve seen.