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Sony KDL-46HX853 review

 Review: November 2012  
 

Rating: 5 stars

In a nutshell: With a stunning monolithic design, excellent picture quality and sound, outstanding 3D performance and smart functionality, this is Sony's best TV.



 

Design & looks

Sony's top-of-the-range HX853 televisions are nothing if not impressive to look at. The integrated "monolithic" design with the integrated base looks impressive and purposeful. If any range of TV can be described as masculine, then this is the one. According to Sony, this is not just a TV, this is a "design object."

Measuring just 32mm at its thinnest point, this is as slim as Samsung's high-end Series 8 TVs, although it does have a noticeably wider bezel. A combination of protective Gorilla Glass and aluminium completes the high-quality finish.

Picture quality

Years ago, the fact that this was Sony's flagship TV would have meant automatically that it was the ultimate in picture quality. In recent years, however, Sony has slipped from its perch, conceding ground to upstarts like Samsung and LG. Nevertheless, we have to admit we're impressed by this one.

A 46 inch full HD LCD panel is a good starting point. Add in Sony's Dynamic Edge LED backlighting technology and its X-Reality PRO processing engine, and you have a recipe for success. A 200Hz panel with Motionflow XR 800 Hz completes the story.

What all this means in practice, is that the TV does an excellent job of mimicking full-array LED backlighting, so it has control over local dimming of the backlighting. Hence, whites stay white and blacks stay dark, with little sign of the cloudiness that befuddles less capable LED televisions. It's not 100% perfect, but it's a match for anything that the likes of Samsung can throw at it. The OptiContrast panel delivers some excellent contrast ratios and viewing angles are quite respectable too, so even if you sit off-centre you won't notice significant deterioration in colours - a problem for Samsung's Series 8 TV.

With an effective 800Hz response time, you'll need a very keen eye to spot any kind of motion blur, even when playing games or watching sport. We certainly didn't notice any.

This has certainly got to be one of the best LED TVs currently available for all-round picture quality.

3D

As with 2D, 3D picture quality is excellent. In fact, the 3D performance is better than excellent - it's outstanding. The use of active shutter glasses ensures that you get full 1080p high definition resolution, and the 800Hz response rate means that there's no "crosstalk" and hence no ghosting effect when watching 3D.

Audio quality

We're always moaning about audio quality in flatscreen TVs, so we were looking forward to testing Sony's flagship TV, with the integrated base promising markedly improved performance.

Sound quality is strong in the mid-frequencies (reproducing vocals very well), and there's more bass in this system than in rival televisions too, thanks to the integrated base. The S-Force surround effect adds a certain something which will please some listeners and irritate others.

Although the Sony performs better than most rivals, in truth you'd still be well advised to consider buying a proper 5.1 sound system to accompany this TV in order to get the most out of it.

Smart TV

Sony's Smart TV offering 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.

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

Connectivity

We're mostly very pleased with the range of connectivity options on offer here. Wi-Fi and ethernet are a must for smart TV, and they're both here. Likewise, there are no fewer than 4 HDMI connections, plus a good spread of SCART, component and composite options. You can plug in some headphones or a USB drive too.

To be picky, we would have liked a Freesat HD option too, and not just the Freeview HD tuner provided, but unless you use Freesat that's irrelevant.

Conclusion - a genuine flagship TV

Sony have strong competition all around, yet they've managed to pull it off with their flagship model. This 46 inch LED TV is as good as any currently available. Ultra-rapid responses, good blacks and a reasonable viewing angle make for excellent picture quality. In 3D it's even better. We like the strong design too, although it may not be to everyone's taste.

Audio quality too is better than normal, with the integrated sound bar definitely enhancing bass frequencies.

When it comes to connectivity, we love the fact that 4 HDMI slots are included, although we're slightly disappointed by the lack of Freesat. Wi-Fi, an ethernet connection and Smart TV functionality complete the picture.

This compares very well with Samsung's Series 7 46-inch TV, and it's slightly cheaper too. It's got to be a 5 star TV.


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