Typically, 3D capability tends to make HDTVs more expensive. Web apps can also jack up prices. And LED backlighting usually pushes prices up even more. That’s why Sony’s KDL-46EX720 is such a refreshing surprise. One of Sony’s first 2011 models available, this 46-inch set combines 3D, a ton of Web apps, LED backlighting that gives it a thin frame and eco-friendly energy-consumption stats. Add in an excellent picture, and an affordable $1,599.99 (direct) price, and you’ve got a winner. With its price, performance, and feature set, the 46EX720 is our latest Editors’ Choice LCD HDTV.
Sony Bravia KDL-46EX720 Design
At just 26 by 42.5 by 1.7 inches (HWD) and 31.3 pounds without its stand, the 46EX720 is remarkably thin and light for a sub-$2000 model. The set is attractively minimalist, with a completely flat, plain black bezel, which is just 1.1 inches thick on the top and sides of the screen and slightly thicker below. There’s a metal Sony badge in the center of the bottom edge of the bezel and a few indicator lights on either side. It’s not particularly glossy or flashy, but the simple black bezel makes the set look expensive, and it’s unobtrusive enough that you’ll never notice it while watching the screen.
Sony Bravia KDL-46EX720 View SlideshowSee all (7) slides
On the back of the HDTV, the various inputs and outputs are split between a handful of side-mounted ports and a large number of rear-mounted ports. A single HDMI jack, a VGA output, and a USB port sit on a small recessed panel pointing out toward the left side of the screen, while the remaining three HDMI ports, optical audio out, component and composite video inputs, and Ethernet port face straight out the back. The set is a bit awkward for wall-mounting, since the majority of outputs face out toward the wall and can be difficult to reach.
For sound, the 46EX720 has a standard, unimpressive audio system. Two 10-watt, rear-facing drivers give the HDTV decent audio, but like virtually all HDTVs, it could be vastly improved by adding a dedicated home theater audio system or soundbar.
Sony Bravia KDL-46EX720 Specifications
- Screen Size
- 46 inches
- LCD TV, LED
- Sony Bravia KDL-46EX720 Supported Refresh Rates
- Sony Bravia KDL-46EX720 Aspect Ratio
- Video Inputs
- Component, Composite, HDMI
- Networking Options
- Speakers Included
- Stand Supplied?
- Sony Bravia KDL-46EX720 Height
- 26 inches
- 42.5 inches
- 1.6875 inches
- 31.3 lb
The 8.6-inch remote is large, rectangular, and well-configured. Most settings and features can be accessed by the direction pad and its surrounding Home, Options, Guide, and Display buttons. Playback buttons sit above the pad, and a number pad, Volume and Channel controls, and four color buttons sit below it. On the other side of the remote is a round, recessed alternate Power button that lets you turn the HDTV on or off regardless of where your thumb is placed.
Unlike many other Sony home entertainment products, the 46EX720 doesn’t use Sony’s familiar XrossMediaBar (XMB) interface in its default form. Instead, it adopts a modified XMB interface that shrinks the current video input to a smaller window, like the Sharp LC-60LE835U ($2,799.99, 3.5 stars), and arranges the various categories and menus in a row along the bottom of the screen, instead of in the middle. Using a smaller video window instead of an overlay makes the screen feel a little cramped, but it works just as well. Media playback and Web apps are all organized in different columns, letting users quickly access their most often-used inputs and services. Sony offers one of the most comprehensive libraries of Web apps on HDTVs and Blu-ray players, including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, YouTube, Pandora, Sony’s own Qriocity movie and music service, and many others. The HDTV even includes a fully functional Web browser. It doesn’t support Flash and browsing with the included remote is awkward, but it still rendered the CNN home page perfectly on the 46-inch screen in my tests.
Besides the standard complement of Web apps, the 46EX720 comes packed with features. It’s 3D-capable and features a 240Hz motion-smoothing mode, DLNA compatibility for sharing and playing movies and music stored on a local network, a power-saving motion sensor that can automatically turn off the HDTV if it doesn’t detect movement after a period of time. The set will even be Skype-enabled after a system update later this spring, with the use of an optional HDTV-mounted webcam.