We should also explain why we qualified our earlier admiration for BIV with the phrase ‘in content terms at least’. For Sony is most definitely off the pace being set by its Korean TV rivals in terms of the interface used to access all the online content. Things have improved a little from last year, but the system remains pretty fiddly and will struggle to cope if/when Sony adds lots more content to its online offering in the months and years to come.
Actually, the entire onscreen menu system driving the 40NX723 needs a wholesale revamp, as it’s unwieldy in its structure and over-cluttered in its presentation.
If you can be bothered to find them, the 40NX723 carries a quite extensive suite of picture adjustment tools. Examples are a black corrector system; an advanced contrast enhancer; a ‘Clear White’ tool; separate detail and edge enhancement facilities; various settings for Sony’s MotionFlow system for improving motion resolution and reducing judder; Sony’s Live Colour engine; and separate ‘standard’, MPEG and dot noise reduction systems.
Ironically, though, for the most part you’ll probably want to leave the majority of these tools alone – particularly if you’re watching HD. For as always with processing systems, they each carry the potential to introduce unwanted side as well as beneficial main effects. The Motionflow system, in particular, has a truly horrible effect on 3D Blu-ray pictures, as if it’s not nearly powerful enough to handle the amount of data coming into the screen.
The good news is that you don’t really need to use any of the 40NX723’s processing tools to enjoy very satisfying 2D picture quality from this Monolithic set. It’s obvious right away, for instance, that its black level response is unusually good for an edge LED TV, managing to deliver a deeper, less grey-tinged black colour than usual, while also retaining in dark scenes an impressive amount of shadow detail.
It’s also pleasing to see how little the 40NX723 suffers with our pet edge LED hate of inconsistent backlighting. Provided you’re sensible with its settings – leaving the backlight no higher than its ‘five’ setting for most 2D viewing – dark scenes look mostly even, aside from a slight little ‘arrow’ of extra light in the bottom right corner that’s hardly ever noticeable enough to be distracting.
Good black levels often accompany good colours, and so it proves here. Tones look rich and clean, but also enjoy that subtlety of blend that distinguishes TVs with superior colour processing engines and helps pictures look more stable and cinematic.
HD pictures look crisp and pretty much devoid of noise (so long as you avoid the provided sharpness and edge enhancement systems), and the sense of sharpness only breaks down a little when a picture has lots of motion to handle. So long as the TV has warmed up a bit, at least.
There’s a touch of judder with the MotionFlow circuitry completely deactivated, but it’s minor and even looks quite natural with films. And anyway, if you don’t like it, you can reduce its impact by setting the MotionFlow system to its ‘Clear’ mode without introducing serious unwanted side effects.