Freeview HD TVs are fairly common these days, and Sony has put the necessary DVB-T2 tuners in most of the models in its range. The Bravia KDL-46EX403 is, as far as these things go, one of its budget models – it lacks the LED backlighting of the higher end units, which in turn makes it bulkier and less sexy, though from the front …
I have the 700 series.
The same thing, only with LED edge backlighting and added thinness.
For digital SD input, whack up the "Sharpness" control and feed a spot of MPEG noise control in too. It does a great job of sorting out the blurriness and artefacting on upscaled input and is one of the better things about these sets. Helpful here is that the settings can be individually configured for a given input source so adding the post-processing to the SD inputs to get a decent upscaled result doesn't affect HD goodness.
The worst thing that I've found (which you didn't even touch on) is that the panel's viewing angles are abso-bloody-lutely atrocious. Anything either side of dead straight on degrades rapidly, achieving "unwatchable washed-out shite" by about 45 degrees off axis. I suppose it's possible that the CCFL backlighting makes the 400 better in this regard? Can you confirm?
Incidently, that may be the "suggested" price but you'd be insane to pay anywhere near that. That's about what I paid for the 700.....
.... and returned it. The picture quality was noticably sub-par.
I connected a PC via HDMI and had a test pattern and a few colour gradients, it couldn't reproduce them to anything like an acceptable level. As the colour gradient approached black, it actually went up then down to black, leaving a "band" across the screen.
This resulted in mpeg noise close to black being far far brighter than it should be. Titles on TV shows were noticably noisey around the edges.
Avoid this range of sets if you give a crap about the quality of the picture.
Did you update the firmware?
Just wondering as you can now get iPlayer on these too. I've got a smaller version which I really enjoy and cost under £400. If you want something bigger then you'd be better spending more for the LED backlit version with 100Hz etc. but for what it's designed to do, these are competent TVs
Time for a HDTV Buyers Guide?
Hi, I'm hoping that you also think it's time for a new HDTV buyers guide article. The one you did 2 years ago was very influential in my eventual purchase of a new TV but technology has moved on since then and I'm way out of touch.
so typical sony - use a buzzword and then make sure it only half works - no divx ? no xvid ? - so a total waste of time then !
its this sort of crap over the years that has basically made me take the step of saying never again a sony product
oh of course the propriety rubbish they keep trying to force on the world
When was this review done? iPlayer has been enabled on these TVs since early September and I would have thought that was worth a mention.
Regarding the above comment about DLNA. I don't think the specification covers Xvid/DivX (or at least didn't a year ago when the product development was probably finishing). If your DLNA server supports transcoding (e.g. PS3MediaServer or Windows 7) these can actually be played.
Tested with Synology
I tested the DLNA with my Synology NAS, which will transcode the audio to a format that the Sony deems acceptable, but sadly doesn't do video.
Even so, it is pretty bonkers to have a device that will play a format by USB, but refused to do so via DLNA, no?
We've updated a caption to reflect the fact that iPlayer is now available; it wasn't at the time I wrote the review (which, as the astute will gather, was during the Tour de France).
Interesting my older Sony panel is good
I have a 2 year old 46" W series Sony but it cost a lot more.
Are cost reductions starting to become apparent?
Are they using a cheaper panel?
I know mine is 10bit colour.
Can't play DIVX, AVI or MP3 under DLNA -says who?
PS3 Media Server player can serve pretty much anything you throw at it, despite Sony's half baked attempts at implementing the DLNA standard.
Does the reviewer even bother testing his claims - how about some evidence?
As for the USB playback - yet another TV review that doesn't even bother mentioning whether files larger than 4 GB can be played (ie NTFS format rather than FAT32).
You have to wonder whether the "reviewer" is technical at all or just rehashing the spec sheet.
Yes, I tested it. With a Synology NAS; and a large selection of files in Xvid, DivX, AVI, MOV, assorted transport stream formats, MKV, MTS, VOB and a few others - files that I keep specifically for this sort of purpose.
As noted, it will not play many of those formats natively; video support via DLNA is extremely limited, unless you have a transcoding server. Likewise audio.
And, frankly, while you might hgave a PS3 Media Server, many readers will not. Given that a large number of sets do play a wide variety of media using DLNA, without the need for a transcoding server, and the Sony does not, I think that's entirely fair to point out.
There is a world of difference between playing a format directly, and being able to play it only with a small selection of DLNA servers that can transcode on the fly. Many readers would rightly be annoyed with we said "it'll play all your video via DLNA" only to find out that they had to replace their streaming server.
The evidence is in the review; short of filming myself browsing my media server for the benefit of anonymous snipers, I'm not sure what other evidence would suffice.
Hmm, it works for me - after a lot of faff
I have the 37 inch version in my bedroom, and use miniDLNA on my linux server - which does not transcode. I agree that its bonkers to support formats via USB but not via DLNA.
I'm not sure why you state that MP3 does not work, as this would be a major problem if it were the case (it isn't - at least for me). You also seem to state that AVCHD is supported via USB, but not via DLNA which I can definitively state is also not the case. I have quite a few AVCHD films working via DLNA, along with several hundred films and TV episodes in MPEG2-PS (all ripped in native format from my own physical DVD/Blu-ray media). I did have some problems with this initially - but I think that the dev for the server specifically coded a MIME type for AVCHD on Bravias.
The problem that you are having would seem to me to be the result of the easy to pass DLNA certification system. It doesn't work properly and the little people who make the servers need catch-up time to get them to work with new renderers and controllers, which often being from the big boys have incorrectly defined profiles with unique MIME types.
MP3, DLNA and grisly incompatibilities
I think there's (mea culpa) an error regarding to MP3; I meant to say it's the same as the other Bravias - ie music only works when transcoded to MP3. Sometimes my brain works faster than my typing fingers.
Regarding AVC HD what I mean there is the format as produced directly from an AVCHD camcorder, eg the MTS files that they spew out. And it was certainly reluctant to do anything with those, whereas other sets I've tested to manage quite happily to play them back. Perhaps some more judicious fiddling with MIME types would solve that.
DLNA configuration is perhaps worth an article on its own; the certification essentially specifies only a couple of mandatory types (like MPEG2 video) and anything above and beyond that is pretty much optional. So, yes, it's far too easy to pass, and the result is that a lot of people who imagine that it means something about compatibility are going to end up finding that things don't play, or that they have to spend ages tinkering about with their media server configuring additional MIME types.
And that, of course, completely goes against the whole idea of DLNA being a simple (for the end user) means of sharing information around the home - it's hardly plug and play if you have to carefully compare brands of servers and TVs to get the result you want, without resorting to manual configuration of MIME types. Unless the DLNA people get their heads round this, many ordinary punters will come to the conclusion that their logo doesn't mean anything useful at all.
I have a feeling that some of this is going to become even more confusing too; with some Freeview HD PVRs planning on offering streaming, and the need to respect the Freeview HD content controls when they do, you'll have a whole extra layer of complexity added on top of the basic question of whether or not your TV will cope with the format that's being streamed to it. A cynic might suggest that, ultimately, the big brands making the TVs would be happiest if you forgot about DLNA and just decided "Sony TV needs Sony streaming server" and so forth.
As mentioned, I have a wide selection of files that I test with; in the time available to test out a TV, it's not entirely practical to also spend hours tweaking the configuration of the server for each one, to see if the attached TVs can be prodded into being more receptive.
I totally agree with you on the state of DLNA certification. With regards to AVCHD, I have had success only since I read that Bravia TVs only seem to like H264 at level 4.1, which I achieved with a quick use of TS-Muxer.
I've recently been trying out my hand at saving streams from BBCHD via my DVB-S2 card. A capture via mencoder in a console produced a .ts file that my TVs were perfectly happy with with no fiddling (via miniDLNA at least).
"if your mainly watching SD...then there are stronger contenders out there."
Such as? How about backing up claims with some facts.
The Sharp Quattron that was included in the Freeview HD roundup a little while back didn't appear to suffer quite as badly on SD material.
However, if you're determined to watch lots of SD, rather than HD, in my view you would be better off going for a smaller set anyway - and there are plenty of contenders there. You could always look a the reviews section of the site for more.
Good to see someone doing a full LED backlight instead of the edge-lit crap. Sure it makes the screen thicker (Honestly, I couldn't care less about what the plastic around the screen looks like...) but even the extremely expensive edge-lit displays end up with all sorts of uneven lighting problems.
And since thin displays are more expensive, and LED backlights look better, they're typically paired exclusively, leaving the thick / cheap displays with CCFL backlights.
I managed to grab a Sharp with full LED backlight, then the marketing dept stepped in, pointed out that 99% of their customers can't tell a quality image from a hole in the ground, and replaced that model with an edge-lit disaster. Kind of a waste of a rather decent IPS panel.
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