The KLV-40ZX1M has only the status lights on the front. The bezel has a brushed metal finish that is different from the matte or glossy plastic bezels of most of Sony's other LCD TV product lines.
The front of the KLV-40ZX1M
The back of the KLV-40ZX1M is dominated by a black plastic panel that has no grills but has a very glossy, glitter-infested finish. The single video input port is hidden in the section of the panel that connects to the base.
The back of the KLV-40ZX1M
The KLV-40ZX1M is so thin that we really don't think it would be possible to locate any features on either side. Sony came to the same conclusion and the KLV-40ZX1M has no features on its sides.
The left side of the KLV-40ZX1M
The KLV-40ZX1M's stand is quite different than those of Sony's other flat screen LCD displays. It has a circular shape with an arm at the rear that mounts at an angle to the rear of the display. This pedestal mount can be removed so that the KLV-40ZX1M can be mounted on a wall with a VESA-standard mount or a model-specific mount available from Sony.
The KLV-40ZX1M's pedestal stand
With its brushed-metal look on the front and its ultra-thin profile, the KLV-40ZX1M is one of our favorite units in Sony's line-up in terms of design. Unfortunately, there is only one thing that ruins it - the blue glitter embedded in the plastic finish of the back panel. What is that? Why is glitter appropriate here on a TV that costs $4,000? While we bear no rancor toward Sony's design staff for this, we could really do without a material best suited for Tinkerbell Haloween costumes liberally applied to a high-end TV.
Display Size & Technology
The KLV-40ZX1M's display is a 40-inch LCD flat panel. The unique feature about this display is its backlight technology. Most LCD flat screen displays are lit from the rear, sometimes resulting in hot spots and dark spots on the screen in between bulbs. The KLV-40ZX1M is lit from the side, using mirrors to evenly distribute light across the entire display, also allowing the display housing to be much thinner.
The KLV-40ZX1M's display
Format & Resolution
The KLV-40ZX1M's is a 1080p display that, like most other 1080p displays, will also support 480p, 720p, and 1080i formats. It has a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080. Note that 1080p content primarily comes from Blu-Ray discs at the moment, not over broadcast TV received via cable or satellite.
Brightness, Blacks & Contrast Ratio
The KLV-40ZX1M's specs do not provide its maximum brightness and deepest black levels. Two contrast ratios are provided for the KLV-40ZX1M - a 20,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio and a 4,000:1 on-screen contrast ratio. The dynamic contrast ratio is measured by the manufacturer after they adjust the backlight to its highest and lowest possible settings - this is a bit of a sketchy way to measure contrast ratio. The 4,000:1 contrast ratio is measured without making these backlight adjustments and is probably closer to its true contrast ratio number, though we'd need to get this unit into our lab to test it to confirm it.
Refresh Rate & Motion
The KLV-40ZX1M's refresh rate is 120Hz using Sony's Motionflow technology. Looking at the video shown on the display unit on the show floor, motion looked smooth and we only noticed issues with it when directly comparing it to other units with 240Hz refresh rates. On its own, it was fairly impressive, though we'd need to get it into our lab for subjective testing for an official evaluation.
The KLV-40ZX1M's viewing angle is 178 degrees left to right. Our eyes bore this out informally, noticing only mild color shifts when viewing the display when almost parallel to it.
The KLV-40ZX1M supports an expanded color gamut, which Sony calls x.v. Color Technology. To our naked eyes, color on the KLV-40ZX1M was true and vibrant.
Audio & Video Ports
The KLV-40ZX1M has only a single HDMI port and nothing else. If you want any other connections, you will need to purchase one of Sony's Bravia Link boxes. Compatibility of the KLV-40ZX1M with the various models of the Link boxes is not yet noted on Sony's site, but the display model was connected to the wireless model that costs $799. We really hope that this is not the only Link box that will work with the KLV-40ZX1M since it would be a crying shame, not to mention a case of highway robbery, that you'd need to buy an $800 accessory to connect more than one home theater component to your fancy new $4,000 television.
The KLV-40ZX1M's single HDMI port is hidden behind this plastic panel
Media & Other Connectivity
Again, the KLV-40ZX1M has only a single HDMI port, and there's nothing else in the way of media or other connectivity to speak of.
The KLV-40ZX1M's single HDMI port is hidden behind the plastic panel where the stand connects to the rear of the display. We were unable to access the port on the display unit to see how easy it is to get to, though we think it's reasonable to assume that it will take more effort than reaching around to a port that's not covered.
The KLV-40ZX1M has 20W audio power output with a 2.1 speaker configuration. Even with its $4,000 price tag, purchasing even an inexpensive surround sound system will most likely yield a better audio experience than the built-in speakers alone.
The KLV-40ZX1M's remote was not available.
The on-TV controls are underneath the display, requiring you to press upward to activate them. They allow you to turn the display on and off, adjust the volume and channel up and down, and view the menu. Since they're on the underside of the display, they are not labeled since it would be kind of useless to do so, so you'll have to memorize their placement order for the moments when you can't locate the remote.
The KLV-40ZX1M's controls
The KLV-40ZX1M's menu was not accessible on the show floor.
The KLV-40ZX1M is an incredibly stylish TV with some high-end specs that would be the flamboyant centerpiece of any home theater set-up. However, we're really disappointed by the lack of ports and the necessity of an accessory that could cost up to $800 to really use the KLV-40ZX1M as a TV should be. Regarding its price, we understand that LED backlighting is not cheap, though we were a little disappointed in the 120Hz refresh rate with which its coupled. $4,000 is a lot, and if the ultimate video quality is your goal and you view a lot of fast-motion content, one of Sony's model with a higher refresh rate may be a better fit. If you want to outfit your media room with the latest and greatest in Sony's flat screen LCD HDTV technology and you're willing to pay for it, the KLV-40ZX1M is for you.
Meet the tester
Marianne Schultz is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.
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