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The Sony KDL-40EX400 is a good looking TV by almost any account. It has clean, sharp lines, but it's not such a radical departure from standard TV design as something like the Samsung C7000 series.

The Sony KDL-40EX400 has an attractive appearance when you look at it from the front. The bezel is thick, sure, but the sharp corners and slight inward angles lend a very modern look.

Front Tour Image

The Sony KDL-40EX400 has a plastic backing. The ports are grouped in a corner, which should make for easier access.

Back Tour Image

From the side view, you can see the Sony KDL-40EX400 is not terribly thin, at least by modern standards. On one side you'll find some ports, and on the other, onboard controls.

Sides Tour Image

The Sony KDL-40EX400's stand is wide and rectangular. It feels quite sturdy enough to hold up the 40-inch panel, though it does not allow the panel to swivel.

Stand Photo

No swivel base. Sorry.

The onboard controls on the right side of the TV are hard plastic buttons. We prefer buttons like this, tucked away on the side, rather than buttons on the front bezel that invariably pick up fingerprints.

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Controls Photo

The remote control that ships with the Sony KDL-40EX400 is stripped down and simple, yet still allows you to control other Sony Bravia AV devices.

Remote Control Photo

A good, simple remote

The Sony KDL-40EX400 comes with the stand, remote control, batteries, instruction manual, and various support documents. There was a slight hiccup when assembling the TV. There are two sets of screws – long and short – but no instructions anywhere that indicate which screws you should use for which set of holes. They're both the same thread width, adding to the confusion. (Hint, the short screws go into the panel. The long screws connect the neck to the base.)

The Sony KDL-40EX400 performed rather well in our black level test, dropping as low as 0.09 cd/m2. That compares favorably with similar TVs, as you can see in the chart below. Remember, lower is better. More on how we test black level.

Black Level Chart

The Sony KDL-40EX400 can produce a peak white as bright as 298.18 cd/m2. That's not quite as bright as a similar, more expensive Sony TV, but it's plenty bright by our standards. More on how we test peak brightness.

Peak Brightness Chart

With a good black level and a good peak brightness, you've got the magic ingredients for a good contrast ratio. Our tests found a performance of approximately 3313:1. More on how we test contrast.

Contrast Chart

The Sony KDL-40EX400 had no problem with maintaining a consistent black level. Occasionally you see a plasma TV with a problem in this area, but most LCDs TVs (like this one) are fine. More on how we test tunnel contrast.

Tunnel Contrast Chart

The Sony KDL-40EX400 showed absolutely no problems with maintaining a consistent peak brightness. More on how we test white falloff.

White Falloff Chart

For an LCD with CCFL backlighting, the Sony KDL-40EX400 was good at producing an even uniformity. We noticed some yellowing dimming in the corners on an all-white screen and some flashlighting in an all-black screen, but not to a terrible degree. More on how we test white falloff.

The greyscale gamma test evaluates how well a TV can display transitions from black to white. The chart below indicates that the Sony KDL-40EX400 has some minor problems with shadow detail, indicated by the lower left portion of the chart that flattens out into a horizontal line. The rest of the line is pretty smooth, but the slope of 2.60 is a little steep. Ideally, we're looking for a slope between 2.1 and 2.2. More on how we test greyscale gamma.

Greyscale Gamma Chart

The Sony KDL-40EX400 showed a tendency to cool its color temperature as the signal dips into the shadows. However, it doesn't appear that it's going to cause a huge problem with everyday viewing. More on how we test color temperature.

Color Temperature Chart

The Sony KDL-40EX400 performed very well in our RGB color curve tests. As you can see in the chart below, the curves are generally quite smooth. Each little hiccup in the line indicates an area where there might be some instances of color banding, but nothing looks too serious. On the upper right edge of the lines, you can see that the blue and red channels. That's because the Sony KDL-40EX400 can't display any detail after a certain threshold in the highlights. However, you probably won't notice it too much in everyday viewing. More on how we test RGB curves.

RGB Curves Chart

The strips below are digital recreations of the performance detailed above. You can see the Sony KDL-40EX400's performance compared to three similar TVs, as well as an ideal response curve.

Motion Smoothness (6.25)

The Sony KDL-40EX400 performed well in our motion tests. Though it lacks the TruMotion processing feature you'll find on more expensive Sonys, the base performance is still rather good. There's the usual amount of flickering and trailing that you'll see on any LCD display, but nothing excessive.

Motion Artifacting (6.5)

The Sony KDL-40EX400 displayed some strobing and flickering when options when were in motion, but this is standard for an LCD TV. It managed to keep major problems in check. More on how we test motion performance.

The Sony KDL-40EX400 has little trouble with displaying native 24fps content (like you might see in a Blu-Ray movie). We noticed a little flickering with high-frequency patterns, but overall, it's a good performance. More on how we test 3:2 pulldown and 24fps.

The Sony KDL-40EX400 has a native 1080p (1920 x 1080) resolution, but most of the content you'll throw at it will be of a lower resolution. It's up to the TV's internal processor to rescale the image to fit the screen. Overall, the Sony KDL-40EX400 did well at this task. More on how we test resolution scaling.

480p

The 480p content we viewed lost 3% of the top, bottom, and sides due to overscan.

720p

The 720p content, lost 2% of all sides to overscan, and showed some noticeable Moires when trying to display high frequency patterns.

1080i

The 1080i content didn't lose anything to overscan, and showed only slight problems with high frequency patterns.

The Sony KDL-40EX400 has a native 1080p (1920 x 1080) screen, but can display all types of standard NTSC formats.

The Sony KDL-40EX400 managed to produce a great viewing angle, at least for an LCD screen. Normally, it's plasmas we recommend for wide viewing angles, though a decent LCD can suffice for many types of rooms. According to our tests, the Sony KDL-40EX400 produced a viewing angle of 66 degrees (33 degrees from center on either side). Note that plasmas typically offer a viewing angle 2 to 2.5x wider.

Viewing Angle Chart

The Sony KDL-40EX400's screen casts a diffused glow when hit with a strong ambient light. The advantage is that these types of screens are not mirror-like in their reflectivity, as many more expensive LCD TVs can be. If the diffuse glow is a problem, simply move the TV or the lights in the room.

The Sony KDL-40EX400 offers several video processing features. Though they're not all terribly helpful, it's worth experimenting with each to see the effect and decide for yourself if you like it.

To get the best out of the box performance from the Sony KDL-40EX400, we put it in Cinema mode, one the large number of "Scene" modes the TV offers. Note that when enabling a Scene mode, certain other features will become greyed out in the menu. Be sure that you know what you're getting into. We experimented with a few settings before we decided Cinema gave the best performance, then made a few minor changes of our own.

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DisplayMate_Logo.jpg

All of our calibration is done in conjunction with the DisplayMate software.

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The Sony KDL-40EX400 has three Picture Modes and eight Scene modes.

The remote control that ships with the Sony KDL-40EX400 is a stripped-down version of the remote that comes with the more expensive Sony TVs this year. In fact, if you look closely at the picture on the left, you can see two long, horizontal indentations – areas where holes could be punched, but were not on this particular model.

Because the remote is shorter than other Sony remotes, it's easier to reach all the buttons without choking up or down on the body. It's pretty tough, too, at least as far as we can tell.

The buttons are grouped by function. At the top you'll find the buttons for other Sony AV devices (they have no function on the TV itself). In the middle are the menu controls, arranged in a circle. Below that are the 0-9 buttons, and the volume and channel up/down buttons are at the bottom.

The remote control can be used to control other Sony Bravia AV devices, but it's not a true universal remote and cannot be used on non-Sony devices.

Input Ports (6.5)

The Sony KDL-40EX400 has more than enough ports for a decent home theater set-up. There are 4 HDMIs, 2 components, and digital and analog audio outputs. The TV only has 1 composite AV input, so those with older devices may be out of luck.

Connectivity Tour Image 1

The ports are spread out between the back of the TV and the side. The side ports are easier to get to, but you'll probably see the unsightly cords sticking out.

Connectivity Tour Image 2

Output Ports (2.0)

The Sony KDL-40EX400 has two output ports, a digital audio out and an analog audio out. Between the two, you'll be able to connect to any home theater system.

Other Connections (0.0)

The Sony KDL-40EX400 does not have an ethernet or WiFi connections.

Media (1.0)

The Sony KDL-40EX400 has a USB port on the side that allows you to connect to USB storage devices for viewing photos and listening to audio files.

The ports on the TV are well-labeled and fairly easy to access. The TV does not have a swivel base, but it's light enough that you can always lift and turn the whole chassis if you can't see the rear ports.

The Sony KDL-40EX400 offers a pretty good audio quality, considering its price. The speakers are plenty loud, though they obviously lack the bass response of an actual subwoofer. In the menu, you'll find a number of customization options for sound quality. There are four preset modes:Dynamic, Standard, Clear Voice, Custom. In Custom mode, you'll have access to a a 7-channel equalizer. The TV has a surround sound emulator, which did very little, in our opinion. There's also the Steady Sound feature that tries to regulate the volume across channels and between regular programming and commercials.

Be aware that if you put the TV into a Scene mode (details), it may lock the audio settings into a certain mode.

The menu interface on the Sony KDL-40EX400 is quite different from the excellent Xross Media Bar menu on more expensive Sony TVs and other Sony AV devices. We're not sure why, because it would have been no problem to take the options included here and apply them to the Xross Media Bar system. Oh well.

Menu Main Photo

The first screen of the menu

On the whole, we found the interface a little confusing. When you hit the Menu button on the remote, you get an onscreen display like you see above. We wanted to change the video settings, so we selected "Video," Wrong! That (apparently) means you want to watch video from a USB device. So it's really more of an Input selection button. Instead, you're supposed to select "Settings," which will bring you to the screen you see below.

So that's where a lot of the options live, but certainly not all of them. If you hit the Scene button on the remote, it brings up a totally different menu with options you'll only find there. And the Options button on the remote brings up a menu that looks totally different, but actually contains settings that you can also find in the Settings menu.

It's varies between merely confusing and utterly stupid. However, if you get lost you can always hit the Exit button and start again.

Menu 2 Photo

The Settings menu

The manual that ships with the Sony KDL-40EX400 is quite good, containing both a table of contents and an alphabetical index. Most of your questions should be answered somewhere within. You can find the manual online here.

Instruction Manual Photo

A great instruction manual

The Sony KDL-40EX400 does not offer internet features like streaming content, or even DLNA support.

The Sony KDL-40EX400 can lay back photos from a USB storage device, such as a USB thumb drive. The interface is easy to follow. Just plug it in and the TV should automatically recognize the device. You can view photos one at a time or create a slideshow.

Local Media Playback 1 Photo

The photo playback screen

The Sony KDL-40EX400 can play music and video clips from a USB storage device. When you plug a device in, it may jump immediately to photo playback, so you'll need to exit the menu, then hit the Menu button and select the Video or Music option. The interface is much same between music, photos, and video playback.

Local Media Playback 2 Photo

The music playback screen

The Sony KDL-40EX400 does not support any other types of medium.

The Sony KDL-40EX400 is not the most power-efficient LCD we've seen. It may be because it still uses CCFL backlighting, rather than LED lighting. At an average of $19.77 per year, it's still not much, and a lot less than what a plasma display consumes.

Power Consumption Chart

The Sony KDL-40NX700 is a definitely a financial step-up from the Sony KDL-40EX400, but we wanted to draw them closer together to inspect what you're really getting for your money. Basically, it's a big boost in features and a smaller boost in raw performance. The NX700 series includes built-in WiFi, access to streaming content, DLNA support, LED edge lighting, an improved menu, and more video processing features. That's a lot of features, but ones that you might want or need. The performance gap is much smaller.

The Sony KDL-40EX400 did well in our black level tests, better than the Sony KDL-40NX700. But the NX700 was a lot brighter, making for a wider contrast ratio.

Contrast Chart

The Sony KDL-40NX700 showed some slight improvements in color performance over the KDL-40EX400, though you probably won't see the difference in everyday viewing.

The motion performance equaled out to roughly the same. It makes sense to see differences in the NX700 and EX400 series, given different screen backlighting technologies and (likely) different processors.

The Sony KDL-40EX400 offers a far better viewing angle than the Sony KDL-40NX700. This is likely due to the different backlighting technologies and the requisite, accompanying screen materials.

The NX700 series offers a built-in WiFi and a LAN port for connecting to streaming content or DLNA home theater. However, it has one fewer component AV input than theSony KDL-40EX400.

The Samsung LN40C630 costs a few hundred dollars more than the Sony KDL-40EX400. For that extra scratch, you get a LAN port for access to streaming content and DLNA support. There's also a second USB port that can read fully fledged hard drives, rather than just simple USB storage devices. The Samsung also offers deeper blacks and a wider contrast ratio, though other tests showed less of a performance gap.

The Samsung LN40C630 produced a deeper black level and a brighter white, making for a wider contrast ratio.

Contrast Chart

The Sony KDL-40EX400 slightly outperformed the Samsung LN40C630 in our color tests. The color temperature was more consistent and the RGB color curves were smoother.

The Samsung LN40C630 faired better in our motion tests, offering smoother motion and notably fewer artifacts.

The Sony KDL-40EX400 and Samsung LN40C630 both have great viewing angles for LCD TVs, though they fall far short of plasma TVs.

The Samsung LN40C630 offers a LAN port for access to streaming content and DLNA home theater support, as well as a second USB port.

The Sharp LC-40LE700 is disproportionately more expensive, considering what it offers. Sure, you get streaming content, but the content package is terrible compared to what Sony, Panasonic, and Samsung are offering. The contrast ratio was also very bad. Don't bother. The Sony KDL-40EX400 is a better value.

The Sharp was not a star performer at all in the black and white tests. The Sony KDL-40EX400's blacks were darker, whites were brighter, and contrast ratio was much wider.

Contrast Chart

The Sharp earned back its good name with an excellent color performance. The color temperature was steadier and the RGB color curves had a slight improvement over the Sony.

The motion performance was very similar between the two TVs.

The Sharp LC-40LE700 didn't have the worst viewing angle for an LCD, but the Sony KDL-40EX400 beat it pretty handily.

The Sharp LC-40LE700 is chock full of ports, including more AV inputs, LAN, and an RS-232C.

The Sony KDL-40EX400 ($599 MSRP) is a great value. For an entry-level or near-entry level (depending on how you define such things), it offers outstanding contrast and color performance. If you're looking for a simple TV that doesn't need all the networking bells and whistles, you've got a winner here.

What it lacks are a LAN port or WiFi for streaming content or DLNA home networking. Of course, if you have another device that can interface with those things (Blu-Ray player, PlayStation 3, etc.) than you don't need the TV to do it, too. Might as well save some cash and pick up the KDL-40EX400.

The Sony EX400 series has all the basic AV connections you'll need for a home theater, as well as a USB port for reading photos, video, and music from a USB storage device. There are no notable features beyond that, though.

Meet the tester

David Kender

David Kender

Editor in Chief

@davekender

David Kender oversees content at Reviewed as the Editor in Chief. He served as managing editor and editor in chief of Reviewed's ancestor, CamcorderInfo.com, helping to grow the company from a tiny staff to one of the most influential online review resources. In his time at Reviewed, David has helped to launch over 100 product categories and written too many articles to count.

See all of David Kender's reviews

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We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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