Sony Bravia KDL-40NX713

3D ready rather than 3D-equipped, this step-up set from Sony is nicely positioned for anyone after a top draw, future-proof flatscreen - and it comes complete with Freeview HD tuner. Part of Sony’s Network range - we’re not sure why when most of its Bravias have a notable online dimension - this NX713 screen differs from its NX813 brethren only in the hertz department; this model has Motionflow 100Hz Pro scanning, the other Motionflow 200Hz Pro.

This 40-inch example is constructed around an Edge LED panel that has “GigaContrast”, a strong clue that the panel itself is constructed by Sharp in Japan. Attaching the desktop stand could be easier; an Allen key is included, though a screwdriver is also needed.

Its use of edge LED tech helps Sony achieve a 32mm depth inside a rather drab, basic gloss black shell that Sony insists on trumpeting as “monolithic” design. You could make a case for its clean lines being considered “classic”, though it really isn't anything special close-up.

The other zeitgeisty feature is 3D, though much like before you’ll have to add a separate 3D sync transmitter to enter another dimension. That will set you back a fair amount since the transmitter alone costs £49 and that’s before you add £99 glasses, though it’s worth searching online for the best prices for both transmitter and glasses. With such a dearth of 3D material to watch if you’re over the age of 12, the novel 2D-to-3D conversion option is one we like, though it’s far from perfect.

If you're buying a TV that’s merely 3D-ready, you’ve probably already decided that 3D isn't on your hit list anyhow, and of more interest to most will probably be the appearance in spades of Sony’s online ambitions, especially since the KDL-40NX713 has Wi-Fi built-in. Its Bravia Internet Video is peerless at present, with its silky control (via the Xross Media Bar) the icing on a service that’s stuffed with content; BBC iPlayer, Eurosport, Five On Demand, rolling Sky News, YouTube, Lovefilm and Qriocity (Sony’s new online streaming movie and music service - the former is limited, the latter has almost as many genres as it has actual songs) star, but the effect is watered down slightly by US-centric clutter such as Ford Models, Singing Fool and an array of pointless Livestrong streams.

This particular Sony TV also has Bravia Internet Widgets onboard, which means Flickr, Twitter, Betfair and other Yahoo-provided Apps, though these “apps” caused us real problems; activating any one of them caused the TV to hang despite using a wired internet connection.

Digital media is handled with mixed results; we managed to get the TV to playback DivX (though not DivX HD’s MKV files) and MPEG/MP4 variants from a USB stick, though this “network” TV is much less versatile at fetching files from a PC or Mac; just AVC HD files, as used on Sony camcorders, can be played. That’s poor - did no one test this prior to sale?

Still on video, the KDL-40NX713 makes up for its disappointing 3D performance by issuing frame after frame of sublime high-def. What impressed us most about 2D Blu-ray images wasn’t the smoothness (MotionFlow 100Hz earns its corn though does visibly reduce brightness as you scroll through each of its four settings) or the consistent high detail, but the colour; imbued with just enough contrast, colours are viciously powerful and are the finishing touch on an immaculate picture. During dark scenes it is possible to see how uneven the array of LED lights are, with a blotchy blue-and-black image instead of complete blackness, but it’s probably not going to spoil your movie.

The story is much the same with Freeview HD, while the KDL-40NX713 also makes a decent stab at standard definition channels. Detail plummets, but it’s clean and perfectly watchable.

Audio from the underslung speakers is thin, so we’d argue strongly for a separate sound system. For both this screen and others in the NX713 and NX813 ranges, Sony makes a special AV stand with a 2.1 sound system in its base.

Verdict

Yet another strong screen from Sony, with decent pictures across all sources and its best-in-the-business Bravia Internet Video service. A superb all-rounder for 2D, there is an option for a 3D add-on but that will set you back a few hundred quid at least. Our advice is not to bother - just enjoy this Bravia’s ballistic Blu-ray pictures.