KDL-40EX1 SONY BRAVIA LCD TV
Have you got a bright, chic living room?
Then look no further. With its wide frame, this super-flat monitor will blend in perfectly with the photo gallery on your living room wall. All TV, Blu-ray, or DVD signals arrive wirelessly from a separate connections box - there are no AV cables to spoil the look. Only the unavoidable power cable will need some careful thought. Never before has a TV been so tangle-free! Despite this, your picture-quality requirements don't miss out. The Sony produces a bright picture that you can enjoy even in daylight. In the evening, turn down the backlight to enjoy rich blacks.
Short on space?
Many buyers will already have bought the perfect furniture to accommodate an old 4:3 TV and all of their playback devices. Today's large flat-panels often won't fit on these expensive racks, since sizes of 40 inches (and more) are now increasingly common. In this case, too, the Sony conjures up a solution - again thanks to its wireless connection.
Namely, the separate connections box can sit apart from the TV - if necessary, even in cupboard, along with all your playback devices. Another advantage: The Sony's handset also uses wireless, so - unlike with infrared versions - you don't have to point it at the TV.
Does a wireless connection sound like a bad idea?
There can indeed be some problems. Especially the less-than-total reliability is irritating. Nevertheless, the "Assembly" section of this review explains how to position the Sony and its connections box, and the "Picture Uniformity and Digital Picture Errors" section explains what to do if you have signal problems.
Do you love home-theater and multimedia?
Then there are better TVs for you. On the one hand, the KDL-40 EX1 renders excellent pictures from movies: For an LCD TV, it offers fantastic contrast, and the excellent black level delivers a vivid picture even in dark rooms. The "Space Cowboys" voyage convincingly through the depths of space.
On the other hand, the broad, white frame stands out in the dark home-theater. In addition, the wireless connection stumbles, especially with HDTV, since it cannot quite relay the full bandwidth of HDMI signals. If you want the highest quality with 24p signals, therefore, you'll have to connect your Blu-ray player to the TV by cable. This works, of course, but means you've lost some of the advantages of wireless technology. Multimedia fans should also seek out a different model. Apart from (admittedly excellent) playback of photos via USB, the Sony has nothing else to offer.
Do you value great sound?
Then you're sure to have a stereo or surround system already, right? In any case, we highly recommend using a decent, external setup, since the Sony's built-in speakers sound so lowly that even a kitchen radio could give them a run for their money.
Then let's be straight: The extremely modern, digital, wireless connection and the offbeat design are genuinely exciting features. But there are also many reasons not to buy the Sony KDL-40 EX1 - above all the occasional transmission problems with the HDMI wireless link.
The lack of multimedia or network functionality is a let-down, and the LCD panel depends quite strongly on viewing angle for a TV of this price. So, ultimately, the shaky wireless connection comes at a considerable premium - one that's only worth paying if you can also live without multimedia, or even spectacular picture quality.
Good design shouldn't just be about sleek looks. Practical operation and connectivity, simple mounting, and high-quality manufacturing are all essential to a TV's success. This chapter looks at how the Sony KDL-40 EX1 performs in these respects.
He screen's 6.7-centimeter-wide, white frame and black trim make this TV look like a painting. Sony talks of a "Picture Frame Design" and supplies six images to display on the TV while you're not using it.
The TV then blends seamlessly into the photos on your living room's wall. Alternatively, you can of course use your own photos. The chrome-finish Sony logo is totally flush with the casing, further complementing the design concept.
This TV really only suits living rooms with modern design, since the monitor, receiver, and remote control only come in a bright, white finish. If your furniture has a more rustic, country-house vibe, the KDL-40 EX1 will stick out like a sore thumb.
Outsourcing connections to a media receiver offers many advantages. For one, the developers have not had to accommodate sockets, so the monitor is very thin - the KDL-40 EX1 is just five centimeters deep. Especially when the TV is wall mounted, this slender design looks superb.
There may well be people that dislike the white finish, but the bright frame has one definite advantage: You can hardly see fingerprints. This contrasts starkly with the black, glossy look of many current models.
As you'd expect from such a strong offering, the build-quality shows attention to detail. Of course, thanks to the media receiver, the sockets are always easy to reach. Crawling around behind the TV or fumbling around trying to find the correct socket are things of the past with the KDL-40 EX1.