Sony BRAVIA KDL-40EX520 - LED the Right One In

Launch SRP: S$1599

Design & Features

Design

We made short work in putting the EX520's table-top stand together, but note that the HDTV's final assembly isn't the most stable given its fair amount of panel wobble. Aesthetically, it exhibits similar looks to last year's EX500 series, framed by a glossy black bezel and a gun-metal gray strip below. Depth-wise, the 29.5mm thin EX520 is visibly slimmer than the EX500, credit to its edge-mounted LED backlights. The TV's matte screen with its lesser reflections is another welcome incentive. Sony has integrated an ambient light sensor with this particular iteration, and a presence sensor that can also be found on higher end models such as the EX720. Although this TV is WiFi-ready, you'll still require the optional and rather pricey UWA-BR100 wireless LAN adapter ($149) to enjoy its wireless perks. 

There are two large screws situated behind the panel which act as guide pins and should not be removed. Despite its implementation, the entire unit remained a tad wobbly after we were done with its assembly.

The EX520 does exude a sense of class with its faux brushed-metal lower bezel and slender looks. We'll give it the thumbs up for its matte screen and swivel feature as well. Do note that while the EX520 is powered by Sony's new X-Reality engine, its panel is still restricted to a 50/60Hz refresh rate.

At only 29.5mm thin, the edge-lit EX520 is visibly slimmer than the older CCFL EX500 model whom Sony has ended its shelf life. Inclusive of its pedestal stand, the 40-inch EX520 is also noticeably lighter with a manageable weight of 16.4kg.

In the connectivity department, Sony has engineered an ample collection of AV jacks. Looking at its back panel, we spied three HDMI ports, an Ethernet slot (for firmware updates and BRAVIA Internet features) and the usual analog inputs. And that includes two composite and one component terminals. Audiophiles might prefer to tap its optical outlet, which is also present in the EX520. Further west, the side strip revealed two USB slots for media playback, as well as VGA, RCA audio and headphone outlets. We'd love to try out Sony's new Remote Keyboard feature, but unfortunately, the update is only available from April onwards. As for the remote, nothing much has changed since we last handled a BRAVIA, with Sony's signature concave design making yet another appearance.

Here are the video offerings located behind the rear panel. Analog inputs such as Component and Composite jacks are present, as well as three digital HDMI inlets. The HDMI1 slot comes with an ARC feature which enables you to send audio upstream to the AV receiver.

The side panel can be a little hard to access due to its slightly recessed design, and even more so if the TV is wall-mounted. Sony is offering one of each kind on the flank, such as a USB port, HDMI slot, headphone jack and VGA input.

Sony's RM-GD020 remote may prove to be a little unwieldy for small hands, but its concise layout is a definite incentive. Comes with dedicated buttons for Sony's Internet Video features and iManual. The latter function, by the way, provides operational instructions on how to manage the BRAVIA for those who are unfamiliar with Sony's TV sets.

Features

Followers of Sony's BRAVIA line should know that the Xross Media Bar interface has been a regular feature on Sony's tellies and PlayStation franchise over numerous generations. However, Sony has since ditched the familiar user interface for an updated GUI on the EX520. In short, main icons are laid out along the lower half of the screen, while sub-menu items are displayed on the right. After giving it a brief once over, Sony's recent implementation had our vote over the former given its added preview screen and concise layout. Presets are rather limited, with only Standard, Vivid and Custom selections found under the Picture tab. Or so we thought, for tucked away under System Settings are more picture presets to be had, such as Cinema, Photo, Animation and so forth.  


Sony's refreshed GUI still bears some semblance to its Xross Media Bar, although it comes with more nifty tricks such as a sub-menu display on the right and Favorites/History tab. A handy preview screen also ensures you don't lose track of your TV program as you fool around with the TV's settings. 

Although Sony has a strange way of separating their presets between the Picture and System settings, it's good to know they've at least consolidated their image enhancements under the TV's Advanced Settings for TV connoisseurs to tweak.

Being equipped for the Internet, it's no surprise that the EX520 is pre-installed with a widget platform featuring a range of video streaming sites such as YouTube and DailyMotion. Apart from that, the TV also brandishes a built-in web browser. But be warned, for it can be a pain to use. Besides its sluggish operation, the browser also has a tendency to crash whenever we attempted to load a Flash-based website. While the TV's streaming applications were relatively responsive, we'd recommend shelving the integrated browser for good. As for media playback, the EX520 handled common formats such as MPEG4 and AVI files well, including most Xvid codecs, but failed to detect the MKV container.

Internet-enabled TVs might soon put media players out of business if they keep at it. Apart from video streaming and RSS news feeds, the EX520 also supports media playback for most video formats from its USB port with fairly quick loading times.

You'll find an integrated web browser under the Applications tab. While the browser is nice to have, be prepared to put up with a sluggish navigation experience on the crash-prone application, and especially so with Flash-based sites.

8.5
Design
8.5
HD Performance
8.5
SD Performance
9
Features
9
Value
8.5
The Good
Natural Colors
Internet and Video Streaming Features
Laudable Detailing
The Bad
Wobbly Pedestal Construction
Average Motion Processing