Cosmetics & Features
For starters, basic assembly is needed should you wish to mount the BRAVIA EX400 on its table-top stand. However, you shouldn't take more than ten minutes to piece the parts together if you are handling the job alone. The plastic base feels cheap, then again, we shouldn't expect too much from a HDTV just past the one grand mark, should we? Unfortunately, the joints do not too, so you'll have to align the entire display to a preferred angle if need be. At 100mm thick , this bulky set is a far cry from premium offerings in the market who boast of slim and svelte figures. Then again, we are willing to be kind to its ungainly girth since the panel is powered by CCFL backlights after all. Generally, the BRAVIA's overall looks is nondescript, fashioned with a plain and glossy black bezel joined by a lower strip of grey. On the other hand, the panel does exude a handsome charm of its own with its clean looks and smart corners. Moving on, a bunch of LED indicators and sensors are located at the far left, whilst a quick peek to its right revealed a set of hardware controls. The buttons are rather chunky, in our opinion, but the reality is hardly anyone touches them as long as the remote control is alive and well.
Speaking of which, we noticed the remote is slightly different from standard fare. The wand is sculpted in a slightly concave body such that it feels a little more ergonomic in our hands compared to flat or unwieldy sticks. It is also lighter than most remotes we've handled. If you need to access the TV's menu, hit the "Home" button to call up Sony's familiar XMB interface. Let's go back to the BRAVIA. Ports wise, there was plenty to go around. The EX400 has two HDMI jacks, plus two component and a single composite connector at its back, whilst another composite port and additional two HDMI connectors can be found at the side panel. How about that? You'll also find a USB port which reads video formats such as MPEG4, AVCHD and DivX. Take note though. Although the BRAVIA managed to read most of the clips we've tested, it was a definite no-go with MOV, WMV and high-definition DivX files. To tap the TV's audio, simply connect an optical cable from the TV's digital output (located behind) to your AV receiver. Let's dig into its features to see what else the EX400 has to offer. Before we do so, however, here are more pictures for you to savor.
As mentioned, clicking on that "Home" button would fire up the XMB (Xross Media Bar) menu; an interface you should be familiar with if you're into Sony PlayStation consoles. Since this TV comes with both analogue and digtal (DVB-T) tuners, it's nice to know that Sony has created a special tab for digital tunings as well. Still on its menu, a quick glance revealed some other core features such as "Eco" mode, which reduces or increases the backlights' intensity depending on the ambient lighting, and a "Live Color" option which supposedly optimizes the display's colors. The EX400 might not offer too many advanced settings, but it has just enough to set your TV right, such as a Black Corrector and White Balance adjustments. More importantly, this TV is smart enough to detect active inputs for your AV consoles. In simple terms, you don't have to trawl through every single AV connector to find that active connection. One aspect struck us a little odd though. Sony has decided to place the 8 picture presets under the Settings tab rather than its Display header. To turn your TV into a huge photo frame, simply engage the BRAVIA's Picture Frame mode to view high resolution images in all their glory. Now you can tell your guests that you own the largest photo frame, ever.