Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sony KDL-40D3500 Review

40in LCD
Peerless HD performance tempered by slightly disappointing SD pictures.
HD Ready: yes
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Rating: 89%


The KDL-40D3500 is the embodiment of Sony's design philosophy with a chic matte black understated presence that simply oozes class. Build quality is back to its very best with the Sony looking like it could have been sculpted from a solid block of metal.


A change in model number from 3000 to 3500 would suggest that the KDL-40D3500 represented a relatively minor upgrade from its predecessor the KDL-40D3000. However, the changes in specification are more wide ranging than you would imagine.

Screen: 40in 16:9
Tuner: Digital
Sound System: Nicam
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Contrast Ratio: 1800:1 (16,000 dynamic)
Brightness: 450cd/m2
Other Features: Bravia Picture Processing Engine, Live Colour Creation, 24p True Cinema.
Sockets: 2 HDMI, 2 SCART, Component Video, Composite Video, PC input.

To begin with, the 40D3500 gains a Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution which can potentially give a marked improvement in the display of sources such as Sky Tv (1080i). The 1080 lines of resolution match the resolution of the screen negating the need for any picture scaling to fit. If you have a device which outputs pictures in the superior 1080p (e.g. Sony's PlayStation 3) the 3500 can accept those pictures in their full glory.

'Motionflow +100Hz' technology (featured on the 40D3000) which doubles the number of frames shown from 50 to 100 by interpolating an extra frame in between each source frame does not feature on the 40D3500.

With 2 HDMI inputs, the 3500 has one less than the 3000 model. Otherwise, the specification of both screens are largely similar.

The Sony 40D3500 is equipped with '24p True Cinema' which enables the panel to display films at their intended 24fps (frames per second).

Alongside 24p True Cinema is Sony's 'Theatre Mode' technology which adjusts colour, contrast and brightness settings to makes movies look as authentic as the original.

It is worth mentioning that the 24p mode comes into its own with High Definition (Blu-ray or HD DVD) players which allow you to play movies at their original speed. The original 'cine' film is generally recorded at 24 frames per second, which in the absence of '24p True Cinema' is speeded up to 25 (standard for most TV's) frames per second with an accompanying increase in audio pitch.

Colour reproduction on the KDL40D3500 should offer smoother transitions than previous Sony LCD's with a new 10-bit panel offering 1024 shades of gradation.

Theatre Sync, which is Sony's name for CEC (Consumer Electronic Control), is a control standard that functions over HDMI 1.3. The technology facilitates one-touch control over compatible devices and in practice means that if you fire up your compatible DVD player, the all connected devices such as your LCD TV will also spring into life.

Sonically, the KDL-40D3500 comes equipped with Sony's S-Force Front Surround which is their latest virtual surround sound technology.


Although specification has changed considerably between the 3500 and 3000 models, performance comparisons reveal a not so dramatically differing performance.

As with the previous model, High Definition (HD) is where the Sony KDL-40D3500 excels. Hook up a 1080p capable source however, and you have even more pristine pictures. The KDL-40D3500 displays a clarity and sharpness that make you want to reach out and touch objects or people as they glide across the screen. Colours are wonderfully vibrant and reach a level of authentic realism to match any LCD.

Although black levels are still behind the best that plasma can offer, the KDL-40D3500 has made great strides in this area from previous Sony's. Shadow detailing now takes on a subtlety which is a match for any 40in LCD currently out there.

Again, Standard Definition (SD) performance suffers to a degree from some of the inconsistencies that creep into a picture as a result of the conversion of a 576p source to an HD ready screen configuration.

The effectiveness of Sony's Motionflow +100Hz has always been open to question, and the fact that the 40D3500 does not seem to suffer too much from its departure suggests that this technology is not quite the complete article as yet. There was some evidence of a little more motion blur and shimmering than on the 3000, and the picture did appear to be very slightly 'grainy', but not to any great degree. The picture quality is still pretty good, but you'll have a hard time shifting down from HD because the picture is so outstanding in this respect.

Finally, if there is a 40in LCD TV out there with a richer or more precise colour palette, we have yet to see it. The range, depth and subtlety in this respect is simply outstanding. The most intricate of detailing such as skin tone is realised with class leading performance.


The Sony KDL-40D3500 is a highly accomplished performer when it comes to High Definition material. However, if SD viewing is just as important there are better performers out there.

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