Sony KDL-40NX713 full review

The 40in Sony KDL-40NX713 is proof that you don’t need a gargantuan TV in order to experience the charms of 3D.

Indeed, with a sub-£1000 price tag, and the ability to provide decent three dimensional images alongside top-notch High Definition visuals, the Sony KDL-40NX713 will probably be the first stop for those who want to try the technology, but aren’t ready yet to let such a screen dominate their rooms or their bank balances.

Not that you’ll necessarily mind having your living space taken over by this television. With its visually sumptuous looks, the Sony KDL-40NX713 is very much the physical manifestation of what Sony refers to as the ‘On/Off Presence’ of its ‘Monolithic Design’ – the idea that the television looks as lovely when it’s switched off as it does when ripping through the latest HD film.

While a model like the Samsung UE46C8000 in essence looks like a screen set within a frame, the Sony KDL-40NX713 gives the impression of being crafted from one big sheet of glass – it’s an illusion, of course, and there’s still a sturdy frame protecting the KDL-40NX713, but the effect is impressive as you look over at the Sony from afar.

There are controls, but these are hidden away at the back of the television – still conveniently located for use, but also tucked away so that they don’t destroy the purity of the screen’s look. Indeed, the only apparent decoration is the Sony logo – which glows a pleasing shade of off-white when powered on. Despite the inclusion of Dynamic Edge LED technology, the screen isn’t the thinnest – at over 32mm thick, the Sony KDL-40NX713 has more heft than other 3D TVs.

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Nonetheless, the screen isn’t excessively fat, and the overall look of the Sony KDL-40NX713 is one of considerable beauty. You can pay extra for a suitably stylish stand, although you do already get a robust and thin, if not particularly shapely, plinth on which to mount your Sony. A certain amount of swivel is built into this stand, and it’ll work very effectively as a starting point.

The Sony KDL-40NX713 comes with a mostly generous sampling of ports and connectors. The issue of whether to mount ports on the rear or to the side often vexes LCD screen manufacturers. Ports on the side are easy to access for those mounting the screen on the wall, but can also result in an ugly mishmash of cables sticking out of the side. Ports situated towards the centre of the rear of the LCD allow cables to be more discreet, but are obviously harder to access.

In the case of the KDL-40NX713, Sony has gone for a bit of both. Four v1.4 HDMI ports are provided, for instance, with two of these at the rear, and the remaining pair placed on the side. This is a nice compromise that means that you can connect the more fundamental things (like the Blu-Ray player or the games console, and the aerial) to the rear, while leaving the more exposed side free for anything you may wish to add temporarily. The ports that you’ll be wanting to access regularly are all on the side, such as the single USB port, the digital audio and component out, and the PC connections. The screen comes with an HD FreeView tuner built in, and the Sony is compatible with DLNA devices. AVI files play well, although there’s no support for such standards as MKV.

The Sony KDL-40NX713 has both wired and wireless network connectivity built in as standard, and this allows you to tap into Sony internet tv. Bravia Internet Video is a potentially very useful addition that lets you view a variety of video content. You can pull up videos from YouTube (although, in all honesty, the rather tedious means of typing in text titles makes you less likely to use this in preference to a nearby laptop or PC) or Eurosport, for instance, or log into your LoveFilm account. Potentially most useful of all is the access to iPlayer.

For Sky users (currently without access to iPlayer, in contrast to Virgin subscribers), the ability to activate iPlayer will be much appreciated. And Bravia Internet Widgets lets you download small apps for accessing Twitter, Flickr, weather programs etc. Sony is also trying to haul in customers with its Qriocity service which, here, allows you to download films (high and low definition) straight to your television, or to sample music tracks (for a fee) through the Music Unlimited section.

How useful these services will be will inevitably depend on how much they develop and expand in the coming months and years. It’s obviously very hard for us to state with confidence the likely extent of that development, although it’s clear that Sony, for now, has support from many key third parties.

As for ease of use, the Sony KDL-40NX713 is more of a mixed bag. The remote control is one of the most button-laden (we counted 59 of them) we’ve seen yet. In fairness, most of the buttons are fairly logical and easy to grasp, especially to anyone already familiar with Sony products – indeed, if you have any other Sony televisions in the room, you may find more than one screen being switched on and off at the same time. One very good feature is the I-Manual. This button takes you straight to comprehensive on-screen help that explains the various features and tells you how to set them up. You get a decent number of setup options, from the Black Corrector to the Clear White and the Advanced Contrast Enhancer. You can’t fine-tune individual colours, but the Sony is generally fairly well featured here.

And so we come to the 3D. Well, technically the Sony doesn’t come with 3D out of the box. Instead, you have to bolt on the optional TMR-BR100 3D Sync Transmitter. This should set you back around an extra £49 from the Sony store, although, at the time of writing, one of the cheapest deals on this Sony television (from Currys) saw the transmitter bundled too for around £899. We can certainly see the sense in giving customers the choice as to whether they want to kit out the Sony with 3D facilities or not, although for those who never had any doubts about adding 3D, the need to slightly mar the Sony’s otherwise pleasing looks by sticking an extra sensor to the top will grate. The screen doesn’t come with glasses, so you’ll need to budget for at least one pair of these. We tested the screen with TDG-BR100 3D glasses, which will set you back around £100 a time.

These particular glasses are rather thicker and more substantial than some (the pair provided with the Samsung UE46C8000, for instance). They were fairly stiff, and not particularly comfortable to wear, although we did stop noticing the slight discomfort after being drawn in by the 3D. Smaller pairs (such as the TDG-BR50L) are available, for children.

But what of the 3D quality itself? Well, the execution isn’t flawless. The depth of the 3D is fairly strong, and in a title like Bolt, the various layers of scenery in some of the segments were beautifully set apart. And the 3D does, at key moments, appear to jump out of the screen at you – at one point in Bolt, the cat’s fist actually appeared to be hovering right in front of our noses. But the effect of 3D isn’t without its faults. Crosstalk (a ghostly border that appears around certain objects, the result of one eye catching information that was intended for the other eye) is a frequent problem, and Monsters vs Aliens and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs showed a particular number of cases of this unwelcome phenomenon. At times, the 3D isn’t as smoothly handled as it ought to be.

This is particularly noticeable when fast moving images are being shown, and games consoles (the PlayStation game Wipeout HD, for instance) won’t get their best showing from the Sony. Having said that, we wouldn’t write this television off for 3D playback, and we happily sat and watched a number of films on it, still squeaking with excitement at the various thrills and spills. But analysed purely in 3D terms, the Sony lags behind a number of other screens on the market.

In contrast, the normal High Definition playback is very strong. We had to fiddle with the colour palette in order to get a sufficiently light and varied image, but it was possible to get some very detailed pictures from the Sony. And the range of colours is very good, with our Dark Knight tests, for instance, showing up good contrast in even the darkest scenes. The Sony is also a very enticing product when it comes to Standard Definition playback, with the low resolutions looking suitably spiced up on the relatively small screen. The MotionFlow 100Hz Pro feature does a very good job of adding extra frames in order to create smoother pictures on the Sony, and for general viewing it’s a superb choice. The onboard speakers are fairly competent for the price, although film and console enthusiasts will almost certainly want to hook it up to a beefier set.

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Sony KDL-40NX713: Specs

  • 40in LCD screen
  • Dynamic Edge LED Backlight
  • Native resolution 1920x1080
  • 3D needs TMR-BR100 3D Sync Transmitter
  • No glasses included
  • 16:9 Picture
  • MotionFlow 100Hz Pro
  • HD FreeView Tuner
  • Picture Frame Mode
  • DLNA compatible
  • Wired and Wireless LAN
  • PC connectivity Yes
  • 4 x HDMI (v1.4)
  • 1 x USB
  • 1 x RGB Scart
  • Composite Video
  • Component Video Input
  • Sound 26W (8 x 8 x 10W)
  • Dimensions (without stand) 95 x 58 (61 with stand) x 3cm (24.5 with stand)
  • Weight 16kg