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Sony KDL40W5500 Operation

by Vincent Teoh
23 March 2009

On-Screen User Menu

The PS3-esque XMB (stands for "Xross Media Bar") menu on the Sony KDL40W5500 LCD HDTV has been necessarily expanded to accomodate the newly added Applicast, DLNA media streaming and USB playback functions (among others) on the television. Navigation of the XMB menu remains frustratingly cumbersome, though this can be bypassed by pressing the [Options] key on the infrared remote control, which summons a secondary [Options] submenu offering direct access to some of the more important menu options such as the picture and sound adjustment controls.

Thanks to some thoughtful rearrangements, most of the picture-affecting controls now reside in the [Picture] submenu:

[Picture] submenu [Picture] submenu page 2
[Picture] submenu

Sorely missed on the W4000 and W4500 series, white balance and gamma controls have been restored to the user menu of the Sony KDL40W5500 LCD television. This is of course great news for video enthusiasts who wish to calibrate their displays closer to industry standard so that they can watch movies the way the directors intended them to be seen.

Advanced Settings White Balance
[Advanced Settings] submenu [White Balance] submenu

Pressing the [Scene] button on the infrared remote control brings up the [Scene Select] submenu, where you can find some adjustable picture and sound presets that have been optimised for different materials (movies, sports, etc.). Naturally the two that interest us most are the [Cinema] preset – directly available too by pressing the [Theatre] key on the remote – which should deliver the best gamma profile for critical viewing, and the [Game] preset which can potentially keep input lag to a minimum.

[Scene Select] submenu

A major advertised feature on the Sony KDL40W5500 HDTV, its Applicast function seems – at this time of writing – fairly limited compared to the Yahoo Widgets on the Samsung B650. Currently the main internet content accessible on the KDL40W5500 is RSS feeds devoid of picture and sound (the Samsung allows you to watch Youtube videos and Flickr photos), though Sony is expected to develop and release more Applicast widgets in the future.

The Applicast RSS widget on the Sony KDL40W5500 is extremely particular about the structure, formatting and encoding of the feeds... anything amiss and the RSS feed will not be displayed. For example, our Sony KDL40W5500 review sample successfully displayed the RSS feeds from BBC but not Engadget. Be warned: typing out the RSS feed URL using the on-screen keyboard can be frustratingly time-consuming, and there doesn't seem to be any bookmarking function so you'll have to type out the URL all over again if you wish to switch to a different feed.

Applicast widgets on right side of screen RSS error with Engadget XML feed
Applicast widgets (right side of screen) RSS not displayed (Engadget XML feed)

Other pre-installed Applicast widgets on the Sony KDL40W5500 flat panel TV include Analogue Clock, Calendar, Calculator, Alarm, World Clock and Online Picture Frame, supplemented by a "How To Use AppliCast" guide. When summoned, the Applicast occupies the right-hand side of the screen (although some widgets can subsequently be enlarged to fill the whole screen), while any other concurrent content is shrunk and displayed on the left.

Sony EPG Guide Plus EPG
Sony's own EPG Guide Plus EPG

Otherwise, the Sony KDL40W5500's remote control, EPG (both the standard Sony and the alternative Guide Plus+ versions) and PaP/PiP functionalities are almost identical to those on the W4000/ W4500 series... please refer to the relevant sections in those reviews if you need more details.

4.5 Star Rating: Highly Recommended

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