Sony KDL-55EX723 3D TV review

Edge LED-backlit 3D TV with Freeview HD, BBC iPlayer and Lovefilm
Photo of Sony KDL-55EX723 3D TV
£1,400

Truly giant flatscreen TVs bigger than 50in tend to use plasma technology – but somehow, Sony has come up with a LED-backlit LCD TV for less than £1,500. Measuring a massive 55in diagonally and sporting a nice-looking chassis, the KDL-55EX723 is the star turn in Sony’s most basic ‘Essential’ EX Series.

Specifications
Sony doesn’t ‘do’ plasma, and hasn’t for yonks, yet with the KDL-55EX723 it’s clearly trying to mimic the markedly great performance that technology offers with 3D Blu-ray discs. We’re now into the second generation of 3DTVs, but have the makers of LED TVs overcome the noticeable issues with crosstalk and ghosted images that blighted 2010′s debut attempts?

The KDL-55EX723 comes equipped with ‘Motionflow XR 200′, Sony’s name for the 200Hz refresh rate that’s key to the success or otherwise of the 3D effect. There’s also a Freeview HD tuner, and the chance to indulge in DLNA home networking.

Ins and outs are fairly standard, comprising a healthy four HDMI inputs, a couple of USB slots (which enable you to save onto an external hard disk to make recordings from Freeview), and a 15-pin D-sub PC input. Unusually, most of the connections are on a side panel, so are easy to access even if the KDL-55EX723 is wall-mounted.

Online and network features
The KDL-55EX723′s online features verge on the stand-out brilliant. There’s arguably no other manufacturer that ‘gets’ smart TV like Sony, which has developed an online hub (Sony calls it Bravia Internet Video) that boasts both a joined-up, uniform design that’s easy to use, and, crucially, some essential apps and content.

The must-have app is BBC iPlayer, but the presence of YouTube, Sky News, 3D World (a Sony-produced app of movie trailers and demo material), Eurosport VOD, Demand 5 and Lovefilm (the last of these allows users with a postal subscription to instantly stream movies after going online to input a code on the Lovefilm website).

Sony’s own Qriocity app adds further Sony-owned movie and music content. Simple Twitter and Facebok apps are found elsewhere in a ‘widgets’ menu, but look oddly alone – and the slow, cumbersome Opera web browser is hardly worth bothering with if you have either a smartphone or computer to hand.

The multimedia fun is expanded by the KDL-55EX723′s DLNA networking features, which are via a wired LAN port only (though a USB Wi-Fi adapter is available from Sony). In our wired test we managed to stream AVI, AVC HD and MOV video files, with the addition of WMV and some MPEG formats from a hardwired USB stick.

Performance
The KDL-55EX723 uses an Edge LED backlighting system that sees a string of lights around the top and bottom of the panel. The use of individual LED lights instead of an ‘always on’ backlight is designed to help the TV create an image with more plasma-like contrast. However, edge lighting is the easy option that’s primarily designed to keep the product as slim as possible; those lights fire across the back of the panel, meaning far fewer huddles of lights; the chances of seeing peak white next to deep black in the same image are drastically reduced.

It is, however, a vast improvement on older LCD TV panels, with the KDL-55EX723′s ‘mega contrast’ panel capable of some pretty decent black.

There’s rarely a suggestion of motion blur, which on a LCD panel of this size is quite a surprise, while colours are always on the right side of vibrant. The picture during our 2D test disc Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on Blu-ray contained wonderfully rich tones, yet close-ups of actors always underlined how natural the KDL-55EX723′s colour palette is.

Freeview HD channels also benefit from these strengths, while video sources further down the food chain – namely low bitrate standard definition TV channels and DVDs – are upscaled remarkably well.

Switch to Avatar on 3D Blu-ray and things get harder on the eyes; during our test we spotted double images a plenty in both backgrounds and subjects, with ghosting around characters and moving objects difficult to follow. 3D on the KDL-55EX723 just isn’t a nice experience. Some ponderous, slow-moving clips from Hokkaido, Japan’s Asahiyama Zoo are much better and easier on the eye – though switch to some Sony-filmed sequences from the 2010 World Cup and the baffling ghosting and crosstalk returns.

The poor state of the KDL-55EX723′s speakers is another cause for concern – a separate soundbar or home cinema audio setup is imperative.

Company: Sony

Website: http://www.sony.co.uk/

Contact: Sony on 08705 111999

Positives
  • Rich detail, colour and contrast in 2D images; online apps; ease of use; upscaling.
Negative
  • 3D performance; high price.

Verdict

An awesome online dimension makes this Sony Edge LED TV one of the smartest TVs around. Add pin-sharp yet cinematic pictures from all 2D sources and it's a tempting treat. Sadly, though, 3D performance is a real let-down; there are better value options for 3D at home available than this 2D whizz.