Sony Bravia HX803 3D TV review

Full review: Entry-level Sony LCD for 3D gaming and movies

Image 1 of 2 Sony Bravia HX800 3D TV front
Sony Bravia HX800 3D TV front
Image 2 of 2 Sony Bravia HX800 3D TV slant
Sony Bravia HX800 3D TV slant

Sony's HX800 series is a 3D upgradable slim screet

Sony has turned up fashionably late for the 3D TV party, shipping its first wave of 3D screens months after the Samsung UE467000 and Samsung UE55C8000 models broke cover. But there’s no doubt that the iconic Japanese TV brand is arriving with intent. While rival Panasonic offers a single model, the excellent Panasonic TX-P50VT20, Sony has three full ranges, of which the 40 inch HX803 (reviewed here) is its everyman proposition.

Unlike its rivals, this screen isn’t 3D Ready out of the box. You’ll need to spring for an optional TMR-BR100 3D sync transmitter (£50) and TDG-BR100B glasses (£100) before you can start with the eye-boggling.

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At just 74mm, the set is pleasingly thin. However, closer inspection reveals commodity build quality. Our review sample frame creaked under pressure and the bottom panel trim did not sit flush with the rest of the frame.

Sony Bravia HX803: Features

Inputs are spread across the back panel and sides. There are two Scarts, a pair of HDMIs, one component AV input, PC VGA input, optical digital output and Ethernet. Two extra HDMIs are side-mounted, along with a set of phono AVs and USB.

Other than 3D, the set’s claim to fame is networkability. It goes online to Sony’s Bravia internet content portal (home of YouTube, LoveFilm, Eurosport, DailyMotion… plus other stuff I wager you’ll never, ever watch), and can stream media cross your home network...kinda. While the set plays common video file types, including AVIs and MKVs from a USB flash drive, it doesn’t see these same files across a network.

The user interface is based on the PS3 X-media bar, which is unflashy but easy to use. PS3 users will also be able to play stereoscopic 3D games.

Sony Bravia HX803: 3D and 2D picture quality

With 3D Blu-ray and 3D Sky, the set impresses. Occasionally, we found ourselves distracted by double images (aka crosstalk ghosting caused by left/right image overlap), but in scenes with rapid motion this shouldn’t be a problem. 3D images are brighter than those from the rival Panasonic plasma set.

To eek the best picture you’ll need to tweak. Ease the Sharpness control down to a minimum setting, roll back brightness to less than 50 on the numerical scale and goose the contrast. Images from the Freeview HD tuner will then start to look very nice, although we were aware of some motion blur.

For a slim set, the TV has comparatively good stereo audio; the drivers fire both down and backwards from the base of the screen. There’s fullness to the output which belies its modest 10Watt per channel rating.

Sony Bravia HX803: Conclusion

There’s no doubt that offering an upgrade path to 3D TV, via an optional sync transmitter/glasses, makes mass-market sense, but the success of this strategy hangs on the price. At launch, Sony is pitching this model out at £1,800, which is too expensive. The HX840 needs to significantly undercut screens from Samsung (£1700) and Panasonic (£2000) which have 3D emitters built in to make it worth considering, as it just doesn’t warrant the price premium on performance alone. Look for rapid price cuts on this range – or opt for a model that offers a more stylish, fully integrated 3D TV solution.

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SPECIFICATIONS

SCREEN: 40-inch
RESOLUTION: 1920 x 1080 Full HD
TECHNOLOGY: Dynamic Edge LED
TV TUNER: Analogue and Freeview HD
CONNECTIONS: 4x HDMI, PC Input, USB 2.0, Mini Jack, PC slot, Component, Digital Audio Output, Composite
SOUND: Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus
AUDIO: 20 Watt (2x10)
DIMENSIONS: 950x580x74mm
WEIGHT: 14kg

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