Sony Bravia KDL-40EX640 LED TV Review
An average smart TV that is bested by competing products.
The excitement of having online features is now just wearing off. We were ecstatic that a TV could be so much more than just a display for a cable box, something to connect to the internet—and therefore—the world!
Now that the fiery honeymoon period has fizzled to a dull glow, we have the clarity to judge these systems as they are. Some smart TVs are incredibly useful. They provide the content and control to supplant our urge to use the tablet or smartphone sitting next to us. Others are clunky, slow, and confusing. The smart TV label on these second types is merely a marketing feature, more type to put on a box, not more to offer the consumer.
The Sony Bravia KDL-40EX640 (MSRP $899), is a low-end, 1080p smart TV. We like that Sony has put out a cheaper smart TV to give online features to the masses, but we don’t like their execution. Sony has improved their smart TV interface over past iterations, but its not perfect.
"Concise" describes the design of this Sony.
Sony has taken up with the design aesthetic of providing only what you need. Once you have included everything functional, and stripped away all that is unnecessary, a design will feel complete, simple, sleek, and luxurious. This simplicity makes for a comely television that will fit nicely anywhere in your home.
The connectivity is similarly straight to the point, providing what you need in an uncreative layout that we find just to our liking. Breadth and simplicity are what we like to see when checking out the connectivity on a TV. Sony has accomplished both of these by offering four HDMI ports, two USB ports, a component and composite each, several audio connections, and a cable connector.
Smart TV Features
This is an improvement over Sony's older smart TV platform, but it still isn't the best out there.
The Sony smart TV menus last year were a mess—they were reason enough not to buy one at all. Generally, we like the performance on Sony TVs, but it could not get it together for the advanced features.
This year, we see some maturity. Rather than a frantically scatter-brained mishmash of online googaw, we see a no nonsense collection of all the smart TV features in one menu called Home. You can open this menu with one push of a button on the remote. The menu has no animations, no bulging icons, no flashy colors. It includes all of the EX640's menu settings as well as the smart features.
There is some backsliding, however. The word apps is thrown about all over this TV and means two entirely different sets of features. The Sony Entertainment Network is an attempt to look like other successful smart TV systems, but falls short in that it excludes much of the functionality that is readily available in the Home menu. It’s not a great system, but it’s certainly an improvement.
Performance is acceptable, but there are some squabbles with the motion.
From this low-end Sony we got about what we expected: a very average performance. Nothing stood out to us as notably above average, while none of our picture quality tests returned really poor results, either.
Motion performance was so-so on the EX640. In photographs, we saw some blur of finer details, like faces and tightly knit lines. There was also some color trailing of bright colors, remnants of previous frames still on the screen. In all of the images, especially high density patterns, the pictures picked up some jagged edges on the outside and some throughout the center of image. None of these errors were overly significant, but taken all together, the motion performance could be considered sub-par.
While performance is acceptable, you can probably find a better low-end smart TV.
We like that Sony is producing a cheaper smart TV, hitting a niche audience that wants online features, no 3D, and a good television.
The menu system and the performance are definitely acceptable. We saw great improvements in the smart TV interface compared to Sony’s attempt at advanced features last year. The Home menu puts together everything you need in one easy-access list. In every one of the performance categories, we recorded reasonable numbers, making this a TV of standard quality.
Within these brighter points, there are some drawbacks. Though the menu system has improved, it’s still not close to being the best. Online features are still spread about into different pockets, which are hard to access laterally. Every option must be exited to get to the next one. Furthermore, the remote has no more functionality than older remotes, making navigation all the more difficult.
In the end, we have a very average smart TV that is not as easy to use as the better performing competition. Take a look at other models and you will probably find something that better suits your needs.
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