Sony Bravia KDL-46HX853 review
For this review we tested the 46in model in the HX853 range, but it's also available in a 55in screen size (KDL-55HX853). That model has identical specifications except for its dimensions and power usage. We're confident that image quality will be practically identical across the range.
Financially speaking, things may look a bit gloomy for Sony right now, but that doesn't mean the company has lost the ability to produce some stunning televisions. Its flagship model for 2012 is the KDL-46HX853, an LED-backlit 3D TV that takes Sony's Monolithic design concept to another level.
Unlike last year's Monolithic TVs, which had an optional stand which doubled as a speaker bar, the 46HX853 has one as standard. It's much more curved and stylish than last year's blocky stand, although the stand only has three speakers compared to last year's six. However, it's still a major upgrade over the tiny speakers in the TV itself.
Placed on the stand, the incredibly thin panel looks gorgeous, whether the TV is on or off. A slim silver metal screen bezel surrounds the single sheet of Gorilla Glass, designed to protect the TV from scratches or accidental damage. As long as you can keep fingerprints off it, the rich black panel has an almost mirror finish when switched off.
Despite the TV's compact dimensions, there's still plenty of connectivity around the back. As well as four HDMI inputs, VGA, SCART, composite and component video, you get one 3.5mm and two analogue audio inputs, 3.5mm and digital optical outputs, a Common Interface port, Ethernet and two USB ports.
If you plug in two USB flash drives, you can use one to record TV and the other to play back files locally. PVR functionality is rudimentary, just like all the other TVs we’ve used it on, but file format support is excellent if you have a hard disk full of video files. We managed to play all our test files, including DivX and MKV.
You can also stream content from a networked PC or NAS using DLNA, or get it straight from the internet. What used to be Bravia Internet Video is now the Sony Entertainment Online portal. It’s a massive improvement in terms of design over last year’s interface, making it easy to pick out channels and services. It’s more than a little reminiscent of the Windows 8 Metro interface, with large icons and bold text, but it works very well. We especially liked the picture-in-picture mode, which lets you browse the portal without missing out on the current program. There’s a huge amount of content to choose from too, with catch-up TV from BBC iPlayer and Demand Five, YouTube, DailyMotion and Sony’s own 3D channel, on-demand video from Netflix and social networking from Facebook and Twitter.
Moving from streaming content to standard definition television, it’s instantly clear that Sony’s X-Reality Pro image processing engine can work wonders with low quality video. It cleans up even muddy images, sharpening edges without generating noise or visible motion artefacts, even during fast moving scenes or when watching sport. High definition content looks even better, with beautifully vibrant colours, accurate contrast and pixel-sharp edges. In films, the left and right edge LED lighting comes into its own. Blacks look incredibly deep, even when sharing the screen with bright colours or white light.
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