Sony KDL-46WE5 review

This new Sony 46in LCD is not only a stunning performer, it'll leave your conscience clean with its eco-friendly outlook Tested at £1320.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

What’s inside really does count – this Sony will leave your conscience clean while delivering a stellar performance


  • +

    Worthwhile eco-friendly innovations

  • +

    exhaustive features and full HD specification

  • +

    predictably simple to use

  • +

    excellent all-round picture performance


  • -

    Black levels could be better

  • -

    appearance divided opinion

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.

This Sony isn't just another telly, this might just be a glimpse at how the televisions of the future will look and behave. And when we say behave, we mean it - for this Sony really does have a mind of its own.

The WE5 is Sony's flagship set from its latest eco range of green TVs. Before you start rolling your eyes and feigning an interest in saving the world, let us tell you that this Sony is more than just a few processing technologies that turn down the brightness.

The KDL-46WE5 has some genuine innovations with a world-first backlight design and an ingenious motion sensor.

Eco-friendly features
At the green heart of the Sony KDL-46WE5 lies "the world's first micro-tubular Hot Cathode Fluorescent Lamp (HCFL) backlight". Sony claims this new backlight technology will reduce power consumption, remarkably, by more than 50 per cent when compared with previous generations of LCD TVs.

Another feature that should immediately attract the attention of the eco-conscious is the Presence Sensor. This clever piece of high tech scans the watching area in front of the television set for body heat and movement. If it draws a blank for half an hour or more – you can set the time gap – it will turn the picture off but leave the audio on.

The set jumps back in to life when it detects you returning – or turns itself off completely if you don't.

See all our TV Best Buys

Granted, not all the 'green' parts of this TV represent massive steps forward. The addition of a power button, for example, is heralded with the sort of fanfare normally reserved for features a little more ground-breaking.

The Light Sensor that adapts the picture according to the brightness of the room is also something that we've seen elsewhere, while doing away with a manual in favour of an on-screen instruction guide is wise if not earth-shatteringly exciting.

Elsewhere, though, this is a thoroughly well-specified TV. It's a Full HD resolution, 1080p/24fps compliant set, complete with four HDMI and a USB input.

DLNA media streaming and Sony's new Applicast 'widget' service are both present and ready to connect to your home network, while Sony's Bravia Engine 3 and Motionflow 100Hz are two of the key picture technologies.

Impressive with any source
The white frame divides opinion, but once we're gliding through the TV's XrossMediaBar interface, we're soon mesmerised by the quality of the image, and all talk of green technology and aesthetic appeal are pushed to the back of our minds.

For a screen of this size, the Freeview tuner is impressively clean and crisp, presenting a nicely balanced colour palette alongside plenty of attention to detail. Motion is handled smoothly, too.

Sonically, this set sounds clear and has a reasonable authority to dialogue and weight to action.

Switch to Slumdog Millionaire on DVD and the Sony steps up to the plate with the sort of performance that persuades us our front room might be large enough to accommodate it.

Bright colours are given depth and vitality, skin tones are healthy and facial expressions are full of life.

Up the ante with the BD of the same film, and, compared with the Pioneer PDP-LX5090, black tones aren't quite as solid or, well, black, but otherwise we're only further enamoured with the picture we see.

Not just a green TV, the KDL-46WE5 is a technicolor joy – and with this set, the beauty is more than skin deep.

See all Sony TV reviews

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