Sony gives internet connectivity priority with its affordable Bravia KDL-40EX524 2D LED HDTV.
This is the first of a new generation of internet connected HD TVs from Sony, the 40-inch Bravia KDL-40EX524 provides the benefits of IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) for arguably a more mainstream audience, and is brimming with the latest IPTV technology as a result.
This TV is stunningly thin at just 4.2cm, so thin in fact that it has no side mounted AV inputs, they all rest on a recessed panel on the back. But that very thinness makes the set look superb and complementing those rear connections you have three HDMI inputs, component, Scart and stereo jacks. Helping pack further audio punch you have digital audio connection and an Ethernet port, the later of course being the key for the IPTV functionality. Finally, on the side of the rear jack panel is an additional HDMI, two USBs, PC mini D-Sub and a CI slot for any satellite services you have.
The new Sony TV also showcases a new look user interface that does away with the XrossMediaBar (XMB). Now we find there’s a Home button that minimises the TV window allowing a new navigation bar to run along the bottom of the screen, which looks clean and tidy and makes using the menu system a little easier for anyone that has not come up against the XMB before.
Along with the revamped menu system there are important changes to the BRAVIA Internet Video portal interface. The long list of content that used to greet you has gone, replaced by a new tiled grid layout for content options. This allows browsing across the system’s many options easier with key features including Sony’s own Qriocity music and video On Demand service, BBC’s iPlayer, Sky News, Demand 5, LoveFilm’s movie portal, Sony Entertainment TV, Eurosport, YouTube and Daily Motion.
Sony has espoused the apps route for its IPTV services found on Samsung’s Smart Hub or Panasonic’s VIERA Connect offering, although Skype’s web-calling system is part of the new mix. You get a simple web browser to play with but it’s arguably the least successful element of the new system in that the text is hard to read as it’s very small and it does not support embedded flash video.
A couple of more useful new items balance this somewhat and include the new ability to conduct online searches for music and video information, as well as use the Track ID system, which uses the Gracenote database, to glean more details about live music broadcasts, for example.
Interestingly, when streaming content and media, it appears the new Sony still does not support MKV files while AVIs, AVCHD and MPEG4 files stream without hitches. Music file support includes MP3, WMA and WAV and throughout the presentation is accomplished including album art.
Picture and Audio Quality
While the new set’s features are very good indeed, this TV lacks some of the pricier Bravia models picture finessing tools, it lack’s Sony’s clever picture technology called Motionflow, and as a consequence, moving image resolution is quite poor. Measured at around 600-650 lines, so it is well down the static image resolution of 1080 lines. Inevitably it means you can get some blurry high speed action and sports images for example. However the set’s black levels are excellent, even in low light and the colour fidelity is vibrant and punchy too and it must be said the picture detail is helped somewhat (primarily for less fast paced pictures) by Sony’s X-Reality picture engine that greatly helps boost detail from standard definition picture sources.
The TV’s slender frame means there’s no sub-woofer on board and so the audio output as a result lacks the punch offered by the TV’s colour performance. That said, the audio performance is service is usable at best so you’ll probably find yourself reaching for the credit card again to get yourself a surround sound audio system or perhaps a sound-bar to help bring a bit more oomph to the audi proceeding and that will help get the most from the all the visual goodies on offer.
The Sony Bravia KDL-40EX524 is a great Internet connected HD TV with great IPTV features but you’ll not be getting the best Sony has to offer in terms of picture quality technology at this level. What you do get though, is a superbly designed, well-featured net connected TV.