The success of Sony’s Bravia advertising campaign has led to what seems like hundreds of LCD TVs arriving in shops bearing the Like.No.Other branding. Its latest E4000 Series is one of the few that immediately lives up to that moniker, though it does seem slightly overpriced.
Though the 40-inch version (26-inch and 32-inch models are also available) was saddled with a £1200 price tag, jump online and it’s now greatly discounted. Spotted selling on Marks & Spencer’s website for £999 - including a free Sony BDP-S350B Blu-ray player, no less - the KDL-40E4000 is one of the few TVs that comes in a choice of colours.
Sony has here swerved the traditional "gloss black" to offer finishes in Midnight Sky, Aluminium, Pearly White and Dark Walnut - that’s blue, grey, white and brown to you. Would anyone really want a brown TV? Probably not - we suspect that our white review sample is the best-seller - but the KDL-40E4000, you see, isn’t just a TV.
No, it’s actually marketed as a Picture Frame TV that’s designed to be left switched on to display a screensaver when not being used as a TV. Although there are six high-resolution paintings for this purpose, plug in a USB memory stick storing your favourite snaps and the KDL-40E4000 can act as the biggest digital photo frame ever. We would question the green credentials of this "always on" mode, and it’s hardly unique: Sony’s gloss black (only) KDL-40W4000 has identical talents for less cash.
As well as USB Photo Viewer slideshow modes, it’s possible to view pics while you listen to the KDL-40E4000’s Radio Display Mode, with DAB radio stations from its built-in Freeview TV tuner helping out.
Shove a Blu-ray Disc in and the colours are bright, brash and bold, but always on the right side of realism. Ditto Freeview, which along with DVD is handled rather well - rare indeed on LCD TVs of this size - though low-quality sources such as these almost always look better on plasmas from the likes of LG, Panasonic and Samsung. The chief problem is the lack of true black, which does mean dark images have less detail and realism that they should. That said, it’s not as acute a problem as on some LCD TVs.
That’s especially true if you watch from the wings, because the KDL-40E4000 does have a limited viewing angle where the lack of black starts to bite. The detail from Blu-ray discs on the KDL-40E4000’s Full HD screen is quite something; it’s also very clean. There’s no 100Hz mode present, but images smear and lag relatively infrequently. Add some above average, though uninspiring, speakers and the package is an attractive proposition.
So the KDL-40E4000 is a decent TV, but it’s hardly unique; even the KDL-40W4000 has the Picture Frame mode. So the extra couple of hundred pounds you’ll spend on the KDL-40E4000 is basically for the colour choice. Those more interested in getting a thoroughly decent HDTV with a top-class menu system are better off with the cheaper KDL-40W4000, though if you can bag it with the Blu-ray player it could be just what you’re after.