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Sony’s KDL-V40XBR1 BRAVIA XBR With Integrated HDTV capabilities, the user can enjoy digital programming with enhanced audio and video reproduction. Watch your living room come to life with Sony’s 40 KDL-V40XBR1 BRAVIA XBR® LCD Flat Panel HDTV.

LCD TVs offer more pixels per given screen size than any other consumer display technology, and the 40-inch Sony Bravia KDL-V40XBR1. LCD TV will generate admiring gazes when displaying high-definition material. When it came to the standard-definition viewing experience in the lab, however, the V40XBR1 required a few adjustments from its default settings before it could match the performance of less-expensive (albeit slightly smaller) alternatives.

The V40XBR1’s black bezel is nearly two inches wide and matte-finished to reduce ambient light reflections. The silver trim that encircles the V40XBR1 provides a subtle and pleasing contrast to the bezel and screen. Permanently attached speakers are concealed beneath a cloth-covered grille that runs the length of the lower edge of the display.The TV’s remote control is slender and comfortable to hold and operate with one hand. The remote’s construction and tactile feedback felt solid, but the lack of full backlighting made its use in dimly lit environments difficult.

A USB port on the side of the V40XBR1 allows for easy on-screen access to pictures, music, and video files stored on flash media. The TV integrates a CableCard slot as well as analog and digital broadcast tuners. The assortment of A/V inputs include three component video connections (one conveniently located on the left side of the TV), a VGA input, and one HDMI input. The lone HDMI input is disappointing. An increasing number of HD cable and satellite set-top boxes offer HDMI output, and almost every upscaling DVD player delivers the resulting HD video signal over a digital connection. It’s difficult to recommend a modern TV at any price that fails to provide at least two digital video inputs.

Regardless of the video signal’s format (480i/p, 720p, 1080i) or menu settings on the TV, the V40XBR1’s ability to reduce noise in scenes with dark detail couldn’t match the prowess of less-expensive options such as the ViewSonic N3760w or the HP Pavilion LC3700N. Granted, the ViewSonic and HP TVs are three inches smaller (measured diagonally), but they also list for about $1,500 less than the V40XBR1. In terms of features, the LC3700N is nearly identical to the V40XBR1, and it provides a second digital video input.

Out of the box, the Bravia KDL-V40XBR1 delivered some of the most disappointing standard-definition imagery I’ve seen on any TV to date. Sure, the V40XBR1 looked admirably good when displaying high-definition video, but high-quality source material is a best-case scenario for any HDTV. I doubt most V40XBR1 owners will go to the trouble of digging through the TV’s menus in search of settings that may dramatically improve image quality with standard-definition sources such as DVD players and regular TV. Unfortunately, they really need to.

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