Sony's KDL-EX720 series represents the least-expensive model in the company's 2011 TV lineup with 3D and a 240Hz refresh rate--both bullet points that the less-expensive KDL-EX620 series lacks. It's also Sony's highest-end 2011 TV to feature a matte screen finish--not a bullet point, but something we really appreciate. The latter helps improve image quality in bright rooms, but overall the EX720's strongest suits have little to do with the picture. Those highlights include miserly power use, extensive Internet content options, and a competitive price compared with other active 3D-compatible LED-based LCD TVs.
Editors' note: We don't have a pair of Sony's 2011 3D glasses on-hand yet, so we'll update this review with 3D picture quality notes when we have a chance to test the EX720 with the new glasses. In 2011, as in 2010, 3D picture quality does not figure into CNET's numeric performance rating.
Series information: We performed a hands-on evaluation of the 46-inch Sony KDL-46EX720, but this review also applies to the other screen sizes in the series. All sizes have identical specs and, according to the manufacturer, should provide very similar picture quality.
|Models in series (details)|
|Sony Bravia KDL-32EX720||32 inches|
|Sony Bravia KDL-40EX720||40 inches|
|Sony Bravia KDL-46EX720 (reviewed)||46 inches|
|Sony Bravia KDL-55EX720||55 inches|
|Sony Bravia KDL-60EX720||60 inches|
|Panel depth||1.7 inches||Bezel width||1.1 inches|
|Single-plane face||No||Swivel stand||Yes|
The EX720 has a slim, unadorned look with a relatively thin bezel that's basic glossy black on the top and sides and subtly textured glossy black on the bottom. The panel sits low atop the glossy black swivel stand, making the whole package appear quite compact.
|Remote control and menus|
|Remote size (LxW)||8.6 x 2 inches||QWERTY keyboard||No|
|Illuminated keys||0||IR device control||No|
|Menu item explanations||Yes||On-screen manual||Yes|
Sony didn't modify the ergonomics of its remote much, and it's still one of the best. The concave surface and strategic button placement guided our thumb naturally to the big cursor button, which is ringed by six keys (although four would do--Guide and Synch Menu will be underused on most setups). The biggest change is a prominent red Netflix button--and we love having instant access to Watch Instantly. Other dedicated keys of note include those to Qriocity, Internet Video, 3D, I-Manual (for the excellent built-in manual), and TrackID.
Submenus for Options and Favorites/History, as well as those dedicated buttons, help a little, and we appreciate that the numerous "small fry" niche video services are shunted into a submenu. Overall, however, we feel the company could have done a much better job organizing the TV's numerous features.
|Key TV features|
|Display technology||LCD||LED backlight||Edge-lit|
|3D technology||Active||3D glasses included||No|
|Screen finish||Matte||Internet connection||Wired|
|Refresh rate(s)||240Hz||Dejudder (smooth) processing||Yes|
|Other: Presence sensor; Rovi on-screen channel guide; optional 3D glasses and USB wi-fi adapter (UWA-BR100, $80); twin-view picture-in-picture|
The EX720's feature set leaves little to be desired, unless you want local dimming or built-in Wi-Fi. Like most active 3D TVs it doesn't include the proprietary glasses necessary to watch 3D content; Sony has a new version for 2011 that's lighter than the 2010 glasses.
One of our favorite little extras is the energy-saving presence sensor, which automatically turns off the picture and eventually the whole TV if it fails to detect somebody actually watching (it looks for movement) after a user-specified period of time. Yes, it actually works. As we mentioned at the top, we also really appreciate the matte screen finish in bright rooms.
|Streaming and apps|
|Amazon Video on Demand||Yes||Hulu Plus||Yes|
|Other: Gracenote TrackID; 28 niche video services; Sony's Qriocity video and music service; 73 total Yahoo! Widgets as of press time; Picasa, Photobucket and Shutterfly|
In short, there's plenty of online choices for just about everyone.
The main missing link is Vudu, and while many others (namely Amazon VOD and Qriocity) can duplicate Vudu's VOD offerings, none currently offers Vudu's 3D on-demand or the superior image quality of Vudu HDX. We'd also like to see support for a major subscription music service, like Rhapsody or Napster, but doubt it's coming, since Sony is pushing Qriocity. The latter recently expanded from its VOD offerings to include a subscription music service, which is available on this TV.
We did a full writeup of the new Gracenote music identification service already, so we'll just include the conclusion here: "Despite its hiccups and occasional failures, we really liked the ability to identify music quickly and conveniently with the push of a button."