The Sony KDL-46HX853 marks a dramatic return to form for Sony. The brand, which has been confusingly inconsistent over the past two years, appears to be back on the right track. Go to Group test: What's the best TV?

For starters, the design is sublime. The 35mm thin panel reclines at a 6 degree angle on a thin pedestal, which also houses the sound system. If 46in isn't right for you, the 40in and 55in versions are identical in all but size. Visit Sony BRAVIA KDL-55HX853 3D LED TV review.

There are four HDMI inputs, plus Scart, component, PC VGA, two USB inputs (timeshifting is supported when you connect a hard disk), Ethernet and a CI slot. Wi-Fi is resident, as is Wi-Fi Direct for mobile device connection. See all TV reviews.

The brand’s online entertainment portal, now known as Sony Entertainment Network (SEN), has also had a makeover. A clean Metro-style interface gathers content into easily perused groups. Streaming TV services include iPlayer, YouTube, Demand 5, LoveFilm, Netflix, Crackle and Mubi. Currently, SEN offers the widest choice of IPTV services. Sadly, the KDL-46HX853's multimedia file support lags behind rivals. There’s no MKV support from either local USB or across a LAN. Sony is promising an enhanced meta-rich EPG firmware update for the KDL-46HX853, but until that arrives, you’ll have to make do a standard Freeview offering, albeit one with a live preview window so you won't miss the current programme.

Unquestionably the best reason to invest in this TV is its image quality. HD pictures are astoundingly sharp, while motion processing is peerless, delivering a full 1080 lines with no obvious artefacting. Black levels are deep and colour fidelity excellent. Much of this can be attributed to the set’s high-end X-Reality Pro picture engine and Motionflow XR800 motion processing. This combination also enhances SD Freeview content and takes the rough edges off low-res internet content too.

The screen’s Active Shutter 3D presentation gets one thumb up. It’s sharp and bright, although some issues remain with crosstalk double imaging. For cartoons it’s fine, but movies aren't perfect. Even at this price, 3D glasses are optional accessories: they’ll set you back around £50 a pair.

The KDL-46HX853's ultra-slim dimensions inevitably wreak havoc with the set's audio. There's a third mid-range driver, on the rear of the set, which brings the total audio output to 30w, but it can’t save a perfunctory performance. It's best used with home cinema speakers.

Sony KDL-46HX853: Specs

  • Screen size/resolution: 46inches, 1920 x 1080
  • Contrast ratio: Over 1 million:1'
  • Brightness: Not stated
  • Speakers: 30w (3 x 10w)
  • Built-in tuner(s): Freeview HD
  • EPG: 7 day
  • Inputs: 4x HDMI, component, composite, Scart, VGA
  • Outputs Digital: optical audio, headphone
  • Networking: Ethernet, integrated Wi-Fi
  • Ports & Slots: 2 x USB, CI slot
  • Dimensions (w/h/d): 1077 x 640 x 350
  • Weight: 16.6kg
  • Warranty:1 year
  • Screen size/resolution: 46inches, 1920 x 1080
  • Contrast ratio: Over 1 million:1'
  • Brightness: Not stated
  • Speakers: 30w (3 x 10w)
  • Built-in tuner(s): Freeview HD
  • EPG: 7 day
  • Inputs: 4x HDMI, component, composite, Scart, VGA
  • Outputs Digital: optical audio, headphone
  • Networking: Ethernet, integrated Wi-Fi
  • Ports & Slots: 2 x USB, CI slot
  • Dimensions (w/h/d): 1077 x 640 x 350
  • Weight: 16.6kg
  • Warranty:1 year

OUR VERDICT

Any quibbles relating to the KDL-46HX853’s file playback limitations or undernourished audio are quickly silenced by the storming image quality. This can be considered a top-class performer for both HD sports and movies. Throw in a huge selection of streaming internet TV services and you’ve got a screen that demands to be auditioned. If you need to play MKV files, buy a dedicated media streamer as well.

Find the best price