Sony Bravia KDL-40EX720

The Sony Bravia KDL-40EX720 is a decent smart TV that offers a good quality picture, but a spotty feature count for the money.


7.6
CNET Rating
7.7
User Rating

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CNET Editor

Ty is a journalist with 15 years experience in writing for IT and entertainment publications. He is in charge of the home theatre category for CNET Australia and is also a PC enthusiast. He likes indie music and plays several instruments. Twitter: @tpendlebury


For the first time, Sony is offering 3D in a mid-range television with the release of the EX720, but this isn't something that the company is focusing on. In fact, it seems almost shy about the 3D capabilities of this screen and while the TV has a 3D sensor on-board, Sony doesn't even bundle a set of glasses with it!

Instead, and probably more sensibly, the company is devoting its attention to the "smart" capabilities of the unit.

Design

While Samsung has spent the past year showing off, Sony seems to have done very little in the design department when it comes to its middle-of-the-range models. If you're familiar with Sony's EX range, which debuted in 2010, then you'd feel right at home with the styling of the EX720. It's a two-tone design with a metal and glossy finish.

The remote control is the same as last year's, but frustratingly it doesn't feature a settings button and it's easy to hit "Return" instead of the direction keys.

Features

A smart TV in everything but name, the KDL-40EX720 offers most of the features you'll find in its competitors, with only "apps" notable by their absence. The Sony features IPTV channels including catch-up from ABC, SBS and Plus 7 and our favourite concert series Moshcam. Web-browsing is also included, though it's harder to control than the PlayStation 3 browser, which itself isn't a preferred method of perusing the net. The TV includes two "widgets" — Facebook and Twitter — but we think the term "widgets" went out with Vista, and we look forward to more "apps" being added in the future instead.

The TV includes the company's replacement to the Bravia Engine 3 named "X-Reality", which Sony says "analyses each scene to give optimum colour and contrast".

The television also includes 3D playback, and this year the 3D receiver is integrated into the TV rather than being an external add-on. What's not included, though, are any pairs of 3D glasses. Prices start from AU$99 for one pair. It begs the question: is Sony already ashamed of this feature?

Also optional is the AU$100 wireless adapter, but we'd rather see wireless than 3D on-board.

On the topic of connectivity, you get four HDMI inputs (Version 1.4 with one ARC channel), two USBs, twin composite inputs, a single component, VGA and a digital optical and analog audio output.

Performance

We began our tests with a handful of synthetic tests designed to push the limits of a television's processing engine. Starting with the HQV 2.0 Blu-ray we found that the EX720 was good with video-based content, but not so hot with film (24p), as moire effects were visible. The TV also found it difficult to switch between different video modes in a timely fashion — but not something you'll often encounter in the real world. Happily, the TV is effective at HD noise reduction and reproducing upscaled content.

Switching to DVD yielded much the same results, with video content effective but film showing some hiccups. Noise reduction was still good, but the colour-based tests and compression artefacts reduction tests did fail. What does all this mean? The TV is better, as most full-HD TVs are, at reproducing native 1080p content than it is at showing SD or below. Some models further up the chain — the HX and NX — add the X-Reality Pro engine intended to optimise web-based content, and this may be better for IPTV and DVD watching.

When we played MI3 on Blu-ray, we found that the tracking shot opening Chapter 8 ("The Bridge Scene") was smooth, but as the camera pulls up alongside the car the rails in the background showed obvious moire effects. The scene is also effective at testing a television's noise reduction, and the sky shot as the drone flies off wasn't as exhilarating as it was on the Samsung D7000 and instead showed a typical-though-acceptable amount of grain.

When watching the King Kong DVD we appreciated how much the TV managed to clean up the Universal logo at the beginning of the movie, it's usually full of jaggies. The Sony's noise reduction capabilities continued as the unit was able to get rid of "ringing" noise effects in the final climactic scene. Colour was vivid, though a little too red for our tastes.

However, the TV did have some issues with this monkey-laden disc. When pitched against our reference TV, the Panasonic VT20, we noticed the picture was a little muted and exhibited a lack of dynamics overall. In addition, leading edges had a tendency to blur rather than look crisp; there was a distinct lack of "motion resolution". While this manifested itself as general haze and not a blur, the TV's not the best at communicating when things get hectic. This was also noticeable during basketball on free-to-air, so if you're a sports fan this isn't the best TV to get.

Typical LCD problems such as reduced contrast when viewing from the side (off axis) or backlight clouding (where black areas look blotchy) weren't as much of an issue, and the Sony is one of the better performers in this regard.

As for the smart TV functions, we've long been a fan of Moshcam and still think its inclusion as a music concert channel is one of the best reasons to choose Sony's TV platform, based purely on content. The other is Music Unlimited, but unfortunately it was still down during the testing period as a result of the global outage.

The browser is functional but flaky, as it doesn't support Flash and gave us a "Memory Limitation Error" at one point. We still don't see why people would choose to use a TV browser over a laptop or smartphone. Same goes for Twitter and Facebook — "T9"-style texting and navigation with a numeral-only remote is horrible.

Sound quality is, unfortunately, one of the poorer aspects of this television, which is especially disappointing after we witnessed the exceptional sound system on the ultra-slim Samsung D7000. Action movies were left feeling flat, and though comprehensible dialogue had a hollow quality. We say: invest in a decent sound system if considering this TV.

Lastly, we borrowed a set of 3D glasses in order to watch some Monsters vs. Aliens, and found 3D wasn't up to the level of the best TVs we've seen. There was considerable crosstalk, and moving images suffered from flicker. The Sony's poor showing should act as an added disincentive to actually going out and buying a full set of glasses for the family.

Conclusion

While the TV sits at the top of the company's EX range it lacks that certain sparkle helping it to stand out. Design-wise, the company is using last year's blueprints and picture quality isn't a huge step up on last year. While we like some of the new functionality, it's not always successful, as is the case with the new browser and the "child that lives locked in the attic" of 3D. As a result, the EX720 is a solid, though not especially exciting, mid-range television.



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RoyceS posted a comment   
New Zealand

hey i need help my tv is flicking like the image jumps up thn bak very fast but still very annoying is this fixable

anilbindi
6
Rating
 

"Good features but 3D could have been better"

anilbindi posted a review   
India

The Good:Great Picture quality, Good volume, Auto Sensor

The Bad:3D did not exite us considering we paid 1598 USD in India

Its a very good Smart TV of HD quality. But 3D is rather poor. After few months even the 3D signal which you have to get when you insert a 3D on PS3 or Blue ray does not appear. Either my settings are wrong or I am expecting too much.....
I did buy PS3 and 2 glass with 5 3D DVDS but somehow the TV after few views has stopped showing that 3D signal is on and now the effect of 3D is not felt.
Anil 91 9341950571

ShohanF Facebook
10
Rating
 

"Very Good"

ShohanF posted a review   

The Good:3d and internet tv also good picture quallity

The Bad:no 3d glasses included

GrantW1 Facebook
7
Rating
 

"At the right price, this is a good entry level family TV."

GrantW1 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Sony, Style, Connectivity

The Bad:Some SD picture quality

I got this TV last weekend and I'm generally happy with it. I like Sony products, so it was more a question of which Sony TV I was going to get rather than the best TV. The TV itself looks fantastic, it is super thin. The picture quality was really bad when I turned it on, I was shocked; I chose this TV over the one below it (ex520?) because in-store the picture looked really good in comparison. After I changed the scene setting to automatic...I got a much better picture. The 40 inch, means that SD struggles, however 1080 looks fantastic, the NFL is really clear and colourful on HD free to air channel. Incredibly, ABC News 720, looks worse than ABC SD News; it's really weird. Videos look terrific. I doubt we will use the 3D, not @ $400 for our family. We haven't tried the internet yet...but i'm a bit worried about the standard remote for using the internet. Generally we are happy because we got a terrific price, great terms and we were due for a new TV...it's a great upgrade for our family and i'm the only one here that cares about the picture quality. We found 40 inch a great size for our space.




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User Reviews / Comments  Sony Bravia KDL-40EX720

  • RoyceS

    RoyceS

    "hey i need help my tv is flicking like the image jumps up thn bak very fast but still very annoying is this fixable"

  • anilbindi

    anilbindi

    Rating6

    "Its a very good Smart TV of HD quality. But 3D is rather poor. After few months even the 3D signal which you have to get when you insert a 3D on PS3 or Blue ray does not appear. Either my settings..."

  • ShohanF

    ShohanF

    Rating10

    ""

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