Unlike some rival screens, the Sony KDL-46HX903's third outing in a few short months hasn't altered our opinion one iota. “Absolutely stunning” is what we said in September's First Test, and our Awards citation was no less enthusiastic.
And having seen off its most recent pair of contenders (the Panasonic TX-P46VT20 and Philips 46PFL9705) in a recent Supertest, its position as the 46in 3D TV of choice is cemented.
Extras should be included
Unlike the smaller KDL-40LX903, but like its bigger 52HX903 brother, the 46HX903 isn't a 3D screen straight from the box. No, you're going to have to shell out for a 3D sync transmitter and a pair of glasses (around £260).
We can't help thinking that's like buying a new car and being told the windscreen is a cost option. Some succour is to be had from the rest of the spec: 400Hz motion, a tremendously varied and impressive online service (a wireless dongle for connection to your network is a cost option at £70, you'll be far from stunned to learn), full-array LED backlighting, Freeview HD and more.
Ignore this shameless late assault on your bank balance, anyway – the Sony is a compelling 2D device. Its tuners are among the best we've tested (which is a fairly recent development for Sony) and it delivers grippy, well detailed pictures.
Black levels are considerable, edges are drawn crisply and motion is handled without too many gribbles. Only a little coarseness with skin-tones and textures spoils a nap hand.
Solid upscaling with DVD
DVD upscaling is similarly enjoyable. The 46HX903 keeps picture noise to a minimum, maintains a fine colour balance, offers black tones as lustrous as those of the screen surround and remains poised with all but the most testing motion.
If we're to nit-pick (which we're keen on), then we could handle a little more dynamism and punch to contrast – but that could spoil the Sony's tremendously deft lighting.
There's great subtlety to the way it delivers the Blu-ray pictures from How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. Smooth-scrolling, detailed and beautifully varied in terms of colour and lighting, hi-def pictures enjoy extensive apparent depth of field, entirely believable textures and secure handling of both patterns and stark contrasts.
Reasonably bright 3D images
Thanks to the full-array LED backlighting, the Sony stays reasonably bright when displaying 3D images. Crisp, detailed and stable pictures are the norm, with cross-talk rearing its unwelcome head only sporadically, and the 3D effect is pronounced.
And Sony does at least have the good grace to make its 3D glasses feel like they're worthy of being paid for, though they can prove weighty over time – unlike your wallet after buying a family's-worth.
This is a product for which no excuses need be made. If you've the readies, and you know what you're getting into as regards the cost of ‘extras', it's a great way to spend your money.