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Sony KDL-42W653A review

 Review: August 2013  
 

Rating: 4 stars

In a nutshell: The Sony 42W653A delivers impressive 2D picture quality at a surprisingly low price.



 

Design & looks

Sony's W6 series TVs look similar to the high-end W8 and W9 LED TVs, using the same "Sense of Quartz" design language. The look is smart and understated, with a narrow matte black bezel surrounding the screen. A so-called "intelligent core" below the screen gently illuminates with a colour dependent on the input source. The chrome-plated stand is not the circular design used for the more expensive models, but apart from that, when viewed from the front the W653 looks very much like a premium product costing much more.

View it from the side and you'll notice something strange. While the upper half of the TV is astonishingly thin, the lower part bulges out quite substantially, making it rather odd-looking. Sure, you probably don't spend a lot of time looking at your TV from behind, but if you have any plans to hang the TV on the wall, it's going to stick out a long way. It's certainly a design oddity, but overall we like the way the W6 looks, although we miss the circular rotating stand of the W8/W9.

The TV is supplied with a standard remote control.

Picture quality

The W6 series offers 2D viewing only, but it does it rather well. Certainly it manages good levels of contrast, with excellent dark blacks and plenty of brightness. Viewing angles are reasonably good, although you'll notice blacks turning to grey if you sit too far off-centre. This is a common feature of LED-backlit TVs.

The LCD display uses LED edgelit backlighting with Sony's "frame dimming" technology. This means that backlight intensity varies from frame to frame but there is no local variation in backlighting over the screen. This does mean that the dynamic range of the image is limited, with a resulting loss in shadow detail.

Despite this inherent limitation, Sony's X-Reality PRO processing engine does an excellent job of displaying input from a variety of sources, from upscaling standard definition broadcast material to displaying high quality Blu-Ray. The panel is reasonably fast too, with an effective 200Hz response time. In Game Mode, input lag is very low, so this TV is perfect for gaming.

When you consider the competition at this price point, you really have to be impressed by the Sony's performance. Retailing at £550, this is the cheapest LED TV we've reviewed to date, and yet it delivers a core viewing experience that's superior to many of the smaller TVs that cost about the same.

Audio quality

The audio quality of the W653A is typical for a modern flat panel TV. The Bass Reflex Box speakers deliver reasonable levels of bass, although the 8Wx2 maximum output is on the low side. But there's a general lack of punchiness from the sound system. It's OK for watching soaps and game shows, but disappoints whenever anything more exciting happens on screen.

As usual, we'd recommend the addition of a dedicated soundbar, or even better, a 5.1 surround system.

Smart TV

Sony's Smart TV system lets you connect to the internet so you can browse the web, catch up with Facebook and Twitter and stream movies and music to your TV. It's been updated for 2013 with nicer menus. Services include the BBC iPlayer, Demand 5, YouTube, Netflix and LoveFilm.

You can add an optional camera and microphone if you'd like to use your TV for Skype calls over the internet.

Sony's Smart TV is very good, but it's definitely lagging behind Samsung, both in terms of content and in ease-of-use.

Connectivity

When it comes to connectivity, Sony has been penny-pinching. There are only 2 HDMI connections and a single USB port here. Compare this with the Samsung UE40F6800 which has 4 HDMI and 3 USB connections and you'll see the difference. On the positive side, the TV includes an ethernet connection and built-in Wi-Fi, with support for Wi-Fi Direct. There's also DLNA support plus screen mirroring with compatible smartphones. A Freeview HD tuner is also included.

A standard remote is supplied and the TV SideView app lets you use a compatible smartphone or tablet as a remote.

Conclusion

The Sony W653 is a very stylish television that will grace any home. With a 42-inch screen, it's noticeably bigger than the 40-inchers on offer for the same price. Picture quality is excellent for the price, and although there's no 3D on offer, the 2D performance more than makes up for this.

There are compromises here - the Smart TV system lags behind Samsung's on both user-friendliness and functionality, and there are only 2 HDMI connectors. But if you can live with these, you'll find that the W6 delivers a superior picture quality at a bargain price. If you thought you couldn't afford a Sony, think again!


Sony KDL-42W653A features include:

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Average rating from 2 reviews:

Reviewed by joe from malaysia on 20th May 2014
I really hate that stupid design of external power supply. It is soooooo ugly. Sony should fire the design engineer that did this.
Rating:

Reviewed by Roger Payne from United Kingdom on 2nd Sep 2013
An excellent TV, especially given its low price. The quite complex settings menu allows fine tuning, and the X-Reality PRO engine brings out the best in both SD and HD, with superb sharpness in HD, excellent colour and deep blacks. On the minus side, Sony's decision to put only two HDMI inputs - very stingy! - means many users such as myself have to go around hunting for a quality HDMI switcher. Also the external power supply is a bit of a nuisance, since it is fairly large and has to be hidden away. Off angle viewing is quite good (VA panel), provided one does not get too far off angle. If it were not for these shortcomings, I would give it 5 stars.
Rating:


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