Sony Bravia KDL-40V5810 television

The latest Bravia HD TV in Sony's "V" range is this, the KDL-40V5810 and it sports integrated Freesat, Freeview and analogue tuners; AppliCast, Live Colour and 24p True Cinema along with all the other Bravia goodies.

The V5810 is a sleek, piano black finished 40-inch LCD HD TV with 1920 x 1080p resolution and arrives updating the "V" range of Sony Bravia sets with Bravia Engine 3 picture processing power, Live Colour - for improved colour reproduction - particularly good for reds and greens among other clever kittery.

That kit includes a LAN connection for access to the rather underwhelming internet-based AppliCast features (fun widgets for things such as weather, calendars and clocks for example) and Sony's Advanced Contrast Enhancer, which helps to ensure the set produce deep blacks, and indeed it does, some of the best we've seen on an LCD TV.

Another bonus is the ease of set-up which uses an automated Wizard style approach and Sony's excellent and now ubiquitous (on Sony kit) XMB, or XrossMenuBar menu system to access features and settings and is fast and easy to use. Selection of desired inputs starts the process of tuning and the TV runs you through each tuner's modes as you progress.

But one of the neatest features is Voice Zoom where you can boost audio for voices to produce more distinct dialogue within nosier scenes, such as actor's dialogue within in a movie action sequence with explosions. The TV's built-in S-Force Front Surround audio system is also good and the speakers provide a rich distortion-free sound output though the full volume setting is a little underwhelming but better that than distorted sounds so it helps improve audio overall.

The W5810's Eco viewing modes and a light sensor that allows the TV to adjust its brightness according to ambient light in the room all help keep power consumption down helping to minimise the set's carbon footprint. However, in the lowest power setting, screen illumination looks a little uneven at the edges, reminiscent of vignetting on a wide angle photograph; subtle but there.

Features such as Picture Frame mode fly in the face of those eco friendly modes however, well a tad at least, as this allows you to use the TV as a large picture frame when not viewing broadcasts or a movie and while that's a very funky feature to have it makes any eco modes seem a bit superfluous.

As well as the new Freesat tuner, the 5810 also has a built-in Freeview tuner and of course, an analogue tuner (although some versions of this TV in other countries may not have all these) but this keeps your TV viewing options open while satellite connectivity is of course there for those who might want to stop paying for their Sky subscription and so everyone is covered.

Combine that with the four HDMI inputs (two on the back, two on the side), dual Scart sockets and Component and Composite connections, you can plug in a host of accessories such as Blu-ray, VHS and/or additional TV tuners making it even more flexible in terms of viewing options.

Bravia Sync means other Sony products connected to the TV can be controlled by the one (excellent) supplied remote so there's less of a bun fight over which remote does what, but bear in mind that's only if you have another Sony appliance of course.

While it's true there are the usual problems with standard definition sources, these are mitigated well by the Sony's picture processing, which helps smooth and reduce the effects of compression artifacts and the like.

Using the PS3 and Freesat's BBC HD channel as High Definition sources sees the TV really comes alive; better sound and superb picture quality are the name of the game. Interestingly, the set's picture presets such as Vivid, Standard and a Custom mode each allow you to tweak the picture to your liking or to suit the source, using adjustments to contrast, colour and brightness changes.

But the TV's Cinema mode has a dedicated button the remote it's not buried in a menu and that's really nice. "Cinema" boosts contrast (the set has a ratio of 60,000:1), highlights are recovered and the brightness and colours become more natural or muted (Cinema mode is intended for darkened room viewing), and sets the picture to how a movie director intended, with the 24Hz frame rate working really well and all easy to control via the remote control which comes with the TV.

Here the 1080p and 24Hz picture modes (25Hz in HD via Freesat) provides stunning picture quality and so either way you look at this TV, the picture quality is some of the best we've seen from an LCD TV of this type. 

Verdict

Sony has done a good job on its updated V-series HD TV range and the 40V5810 is a great example with a nice balance between features, screen size, price and connectivity. And although it's not the top of the tree as far as Sony's higher end models go, such as the premium X-series TVs, it is nevertheless a great set and well worth serious consideration; you get a great set and set of features for a great price.