Sony Bravia KDL-46NX713 Review

Sony’s 46-inch 3D capable NX713 series LED HDTV offers 3D technology and some clever networking features in an ultra stylish package, but is it any good? Doug Harman finds out.

Sony’s NX designated series of LED TVs provide a host of networking features (hence the “N” designation) in order to wirelessly stream your media, be it pictures video or audio to the TV at the press of a button and all while lounging on the luxury of your chaise longue in your living room.

This NX tele sit neatly between Sony’s Essential (EX) sets and the top end Luxury (LX) models and provide a set of neat features that include a 46-inch screen with Full HD 3D capability (unlike the 46NX703 we reviewed back in November, here: www.best4reviews.com/tv/review/sony-bravia-kdl-46nx703.html) with (disappointingly) optional active shutter and glasses, which significantly increases the cost of the kit, as we'll see.

On the plus side however, new Dynamic Edge LED technology uses diodes along the bottom and top edge of the screen, along with some clever dimming technology that controls light output in localised areas to provide what Sony calls “GigaContrast”, which seems to work extremely well indeed, as we shall see.

It also has built-in Wi-Fi (as you’d expect given the networking attributes of the set) a Freeview HD tuner and, arguably, the Pièce de résistance, its slim-line Monolithic Design. This features a characteristic black glossy bezel with flush-fitting screen plus a stand to provide the optimum” viewing angle of 6-degrees when the TV is set up nearer the floor.

Of course, there’s a lot more to this TV than pretty looks and 3D, as you’d expect for a set in the £1500 price range. Some of these include four HDMI v1.4 inputs, two of which reside on the set’s side, the other two on the back panel, so pretty much all you’d need for most home cinema needs.

These are joined by component and composite inputs as well as RF, Scart and D-Sub 15-pin PC inputs, an optical digital audio output, Ethernet port, USB port for multimedia playback and a CI slot for pay TV channels.

3D Considerations
All well and good so far, but it’s when we get to the 3D side of things that the shine starts to come off of this glossy Monolithic TV. Because, while the TV is 3D ready out of the box, you’ll need to fork out another £50 for the TMR-BR100 3D transmitter system and then another £99.99 for each pair of TDG-BR100B 3D glasses. If you have a family of four, you’ll need to factor in almost another £500 if you want to watch 3D TV content or play games in 3D together.

Shopping around is sure to help save you some money here, both when buying the TV or the accessories (and a quick trawl of the Internet revealed prices from around £70 for the 3D glasses with the set itself available for as low as £899) this is still a significant bounce in the overall price of the system.

The built-in Wi-Fi allows you to connect to the excellent Sony IPTV services without the need of running an Ethernet cable across the living room, and those IPTV services include some of the best content compared with similar services from other manufacturers. There are over 20 channels with BBC’s iPlayer, LoveFilm, Sony’s Entertainment Television and Demand 5 leading the fray alongside, and among others that includes Eurosport and Sony’s Qriocity pay-per-view services that bring further motion picture choices into your home.

Music sites on offer include Music Unlimited (again provided by Qriocity) and of course you can stream your MP3 collection over your home network all controlled using a well designed and clear menu structure that makes finding the MP3s of choice refreshingly simple.
Similarly, streaming JPEG images, AVCHD and MPEG2 video is just as simple and works very well indeed. So what is it inside the NX713 that can process all this information and data?

Sony’s Bravia Engine 3 drives the NX713, controlling the contrast, colour and detail reproduction with the MotionFlow 100Hz Pro system working to help mitigate motion blur by doubling the screen refresh rate and using backlight blinking (or black frame insertion) to help give the extra smoothness.

Sony’s now ubiquitous XMB (cross media bar) is the key controlling menu element of the TV and for those unfamiliar with it, it is menu system that can scroll up and down and across to various selections and settings and while it does take a little while to get to grips with, as broad stroke menu options have multiple setting choices within them, once used to the way it works, it is quite logical.

The supplied remote control provides an Options button which gets plenty of use as it gives you a quick shortcut to oft used settings but sadly however, the XMB and the Options menus are anything but quick to use. There's significant sluggishness from pressing a button or selecting a XMB setting to the actual action taking place.

Image Performance
And so, what of the all important image performance? The 2D performance is is quite simply excellent with any of the Freeview HD channels providing crisply bright pictures with rich-looking colours all without any artefacts that are typical of standard definition Freeview broadcasts, for example.

Detail is stunning and well maintained during fast moving action and sport sequences, providing the settings are not pumped up too high because then a modicum of artefacts begin to appear on screen. MotionFlow seems to work very well indeed and can really help get the most from pacier content.

Play a Blu-ray on the TV (I used my PS3 as the source here) and things improve further still, detail improves again as there’s beautiful enhancement to the overall clarity and crispness of the image. Difficult subjects such as the Sandman creation sequence in Spiderman 3, are dealt with very well, where each grain of sand is rendered in fine detail. Sunshine, Inception and the new Star Trek movie all reveal the deep lustre and sparkle you’d expect too while retaining detail in the fastest of motion sequences.

Colours are rich and lustrous while the blacks are suitably deep (and can be pushed to the limit in Sunshine and Star Trek Blu-rays), but the NX713 holds up well providing a satisfyingly cinematic feel to the images. The only demerit I can report, while not particularly distracting, are slight residual brightness pools at each corner of the screen, only really noticeable within the black bars on movies presented in letterbox format.

And so to the 3D performance, and as good as the 2D rendering is 3D is a slight let down. It’s just not as immersive as it could be thanks largely to some odd fringing and ghosting on outlines, foreground detail can become very vague too and so the combination of both problems means on Blu-rays such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part , it lacks depth and sparkle and you simply don’t get the immersive feel you’d expect as the layers of 3D image seem to blur.

This blur is the so called cross talk (where the image presented on screen is slightly out of sync with the 3D glasses) can become frustrating and can cause eyestrain in the end if it goes on for long, it could be enough to stop you from wanting to watch 3D content.

The NX713 can also convert 2D content into 3D, but it only really works well on scenes that would have looked good if shot in 3D in the first place, so scenic imagery with good separation between the foreground and the background (the amazing black and white opening sequence in The Fall is a good example) but otherwise, it’s not as impressive as you might like given some of the hype over this feature.

Sound Performance
In terms of sound reproduction, the 46NX713s invisible speakers offer 2x 8W output with a 10W sub speaker which, as you’d expect, are hidden within the TV. But this audio system leaves a lot to be desired as the sound quality is very flat and quite tinny and cannot cope with louder sounds (explosions and such) and distorts quickly as the volume rises.

Base response lacks, well, enough base, as there’s no depth to the sound to speak of and again, boost the base response or pump up the volume and you just get distortion. But these sort of issues are common across many flat panel TVs, so an additional home surround system should be another budgetary consideration to get the most of the wow factor on offer from this tele.

Despite the 3D foibles, and the extra money you’ll need to fork out if you want to buy all the 3D paraphernalia that goes alongside this HDTV, and a home cinema surround sound system too, the 46NX713 is so feature rich with its networking and media streaming skills, it’s still worth serious consideration. Particularly so as it has such good 2D picture performance, so much so that we still feel you’re getting a lot of TV for the money even though it's not a set I'd buy it for the 3D content alone.

Verdict: 
With the Sony Bravia KDL-46NX713's 3D performance flattering to deceive, and the below par audio output, the Sony Bravia KDL-46NX713’s 2D performance is its saving grace as it's simply stunning and means that while it gets a four stars rating overall, thanks to the 3D and audio foibles, in terms of 2D performance it's a five star set. The 2D performance is such that it is a top drawer 2D HDTV tele, well worth closer inspection, particularly as the price is now dropping. Sony is certain to improve on the 3D performance over time on newer sets and so we wait with bated breath the next iteration of its 3D technology, since if it is as good as the 2D performance on offer here – and there's no reason to think it won't be – it'll be well worth the wait.