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Sony KDL40W4000 Operation
XMB On-Screen Menu
The on-screen user menu of the KDL40W4000 LCD television is based on Sony's award-winning XMB (XcrossMediaBar) graphical user interface, and so should be familiar to those who have played with a PS3. Unfortunately whereas the XMB implemented on the PS3 is attractive and slick, Sony KDL40W4000's version is rendered in lower resolution, and so the icons and text do not look as sharp or crisp. Navigating the XMB user menu also reveals a tendency to lag from time to time, which – together with the sensitive remote control buttons – can occasionally cause one click to result in two steps, i.e. one further than where you want to be.
The background of the XMB menu takes up the whole screen, but is semi-opaque so you can still get a hint of what's going on underneath. Even better, the actual adjustment window for a number of the picture controls shrinks to occupy only a small space at the bottom left of the screen, giving you a clear view during calibration.
|XMB user menu||Picture submenu|
|Picture submenu page 2||Advanced picture settings|
Looking through the picture submenu, it's obvious that Sony has stripped the KDL40W4000 of white balance and gamma controls. While this may be a necessary exercise in the name of cost-cutting, it won't please those who have a keen interest in tweaking their televisions to broadcast and video industry standards.
|Sound submenu||Features submenu|
It's hard to imagine any respectable sound emanating from the silver bar housing the speakers at the bottom of the LCD TV, but the Sony KDL40W4000's on-board audio took us by surprise. Although still no match for external home theatre systems, the Sony KDL40W4000 delivered a remarkable acoustic performance in terms of resolution, stereo separation, soundstage and dynamic range, making it the best HDTV (sound-wise) we've heard in 2008.
In the [Features] submenu, [Film Mode] is probably used to apply the relevant pulldown technique to film-based material. Astute readers may notice the absence of [Game/ Text Mode] previously available on the W3000.
|Setup submenu||Screen settings|
Probably the most important option in the [Setup submenu] is [Screen Settings] > [Display Area], which when set to "Full Pixel" will allow for 1:1 pixel mapping with zero overscan.
USB Photo Viewer/ Picture Frame
On the Sony KDL40W4000 you can view JPEG photos (either one of the six pre-installed, or through the side USB port). There is also a [Picture Frame] mode where you can display a fixed picture on screen for a period of time, after which the LCD HDTV will go into standby.
Picture-And-Picture (PAP)/ Picture-In-Picture (PIP)
The Sony KDL40W4000 offers PaP and PiP functionalities which can be summoned by pressing the [Options] button on the remote control. PaP mode is available for all but VGA sources whereas the reverse is true for PiP mode, though in both cases the TV source will be displayed in the smaller daughter window. Pressing the left/ right buttons on the remote will switch the audio from one window/ source to the other.
EPG (Electronic Programme Guide)
The EPG on the KDL40W4000 is the bog-standard one seen on recent Sony Bravia LCD televisions (V3000, W3000 and X3500), but again the text definition is not as pin-sharp as we'd like it to be. Even though the outer areas of the EPG is semi-opaque, the actual programme table (which occupies the bulk of the screen) is not, making it difficult if not impossible to see any underlying action.
Just like previous Sony HDTVs we've tested, EPG and channel navigation is speedy and responsive. To Sony's credit, the large and intrusive digital TV information banners found on previous Bravia LCDs have been substituted by smaller semi-transparent ones on the KDL40W4000.
|W3000 DTV info banner||W4000 DTV info banner|
Without any backlighting function, the infrared remote control of Sony KDL40W4000 bears more similarities to the one bundled with V3000 rather than W3000 when it comes to ergonomics and button placement. The slender frame and light weight permits easy manipulation. And while the individual keys are easy to depress, they still provide adequate tactile feedback which, coupled with wide response field of the corresponding infrared sensor, contributes to a satisfying navigational experience.
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