Heading into the 40HX723’s onscreen menus proves to be a surprisingly daunting exercise thanks to a menu structure that probably sounded good on paper but is very tortuous in practice. Press the menu button and the picture you were watching reduces in size so the screen can throw up a dual-axis menu system without impinging on the picture. Which is cool. However, it quickly becomes apparent that the way the dual-axis menus are presented and structured isn’t very intuitive at all, requiring far too much scrolling around through menus that are too obscurely ‘labelled’ and ordered.
This wouldn’t be so bad if you only had to delve into the menus very occasionally, but actually the amounts of processing the 40HX723 employs will potentially have picture enthusiasts tinkering with some of the options fairly routinely.
Among the picture adjustments we’re talking about are Sony’s Reality Creation engine for boosting detailing while reducing noise; Sony’s MotionFlow system for reducing judder and blur; both white and black level boosters; multiple gamma presets; no less than three different noise reduction systems; an edge enhancer; and something called Smooth Gradation that turns out to be an option for producing ’14-bit levels of colour blend levels from the 8-bit screen’.
All this talk of processing may trouble AV enthusiasts used to finding heavy duty processing systems spoiling rather than improving picture quality. But we’d argue that in this case, to Sony’s credit, many or even most of the processing options available on the 40HX723 really can make pictures look better – provided you exercise caution over when and at what setting level you use them. For the most part we’d recommend only using the processing systems on their lowest settings, or turning them off entirely if the particular source you’re watching looks Ok without them.
With the EX723’s 3D mess still ringing in our eyes, it was with real trepidation that we fired a couple of 3D Blu-ray films into the 40HX723. But thankfully it’s instantly clear that the 40HX723 is in a whole different 3D league.
The main reason for our contentment is that the 40HX723 hardly suffers with crosstalk at all – especially when you’re watching dynamic, colourful 3D sequences. There are still traces of crosstalk during some dark scenes, but it’s subtle enough to seldom distract you, and so doesn’t become something you actively find yourself looking out for.
Without crosstalk ruining everything, it’s possible also to appreciate other good things about the 40HX723’s 3D pictures, such as good sharpness and detail levels with full HD Blu-rays, and believable, rich colours. The edge LED lighting engine produces enough brightness to keep 3D pictures looking eye-catchingly vibrant despite the dimming impact of Sony’s big but passably comfortable 3D glasses.
The bottom line is that it’s hard to believe the 40HX723‘s 3D pictures are even coming from the same brand that brought us the EX723 series. Phew.
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