Sony KDL-40EX503 review

TV Product of the Year, Awards 2010. At this price the Sony KDL-40EX503 is simply sensational value for money Tested at £660.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

TV Product of the Year, Awards 2010. A fantastic addition to the Sony range, and one that should be sampled at all costs


  • +

    Sensational value for money

  • +

    class-leading picture quality across the board

  • +

    Freeview HD tuner

  • +

    sounds impressively detailed


  • -

    Remote feels a little awkward, but that’s just being picky

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

TV Product of the Year 2010

We know Sony's regular test success winds some people up (especially the company's rivals), which is why its relative struggles with quality control last year were greeted in some corners with a small cheer.

It's unlikely that anyone really expected the Japanese manufacturer to stay down for long, though, and sure enough, the KDL-40EX503, the first telly from the 2010 range to grace our listening rooms, announced a serious return to form when it gained top whack recently.

Months down the line and it's dropped in price by £140, but an army of new rivals means there's no guarantee it'll emerge with such accolades a second time.

Solid specification
Sony's been rocking the compact, straight-edged aesthetic on its tellies for a while now, and it's still just as functional and attractive as ever.

The physical styling is complemented by the visually-appealing XMB menu system, and the spec includes niceties such as internet connectivity, 100Hz motion processing and the advanced Bravia Engine 3.

Our only slight reservation design-wise is the new remote control, which looks great but has hard edges that make it a bit uncomfortable to hold.

Reservations are hard to come by when you watch a movie, though. Try the Centurion Blu-ray for example, and what's immediately apparent is that this Sony has a supremely balanced colour palette.

The snowy peaks of the Scottish Highlands are realised with perfectly pure whites, while the greener hues of the wood around the witch's cottage are rugged and varied.

Skin tones are natural throughout, and when the blood starts to fly (and it really does), it's vivid and gory, just as director Neil Marshall intended.

Testing motion
There's plenty of testing motion on the disc, too, from slow pans across the frigid landscape to huge, frenetic swordfights, but the Sony takes it all in its stride, producing movement that's supremely solid and natural.

Detail levels are brilliant across the board, and while the Samsung pushes its blacks just a little deeper, the Sony's overall contrast is excellent.

A lot of motion processors struggle when it comes to standard-definition content, but the Sony retains a great deal of its solidity when you switch to The Road on DVD.

The upscaled image is clean and stable, but also impressively detailed, and that colour neutrality means the film's intentionally pale palette isn't overcooked.

Crisp with Freeview HD
Turn to BBC HD on the Freeview tuner and the ‘EX503 produces one of the crispest pictures around.

Although a standard-definition channel such as Dave looks a little more detailed on certain rivals we could name, the Sony's overall control and balance makes for a thoroughly satisfying viewing experience.

True, there are other TVs with better sound, but the ‘EX503's speakers are decently detailed, rounding out a serious all-round package for the price.

Watch our Awards video review of the Sony KDL-40EX503

See all our TV Best Buys

Follow on Twitter

Join on Facebook

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

Read more about how we test