Sony's latest range of Bravia LCDs have been setting the AV world alight. We've reviewed several models from the high-end X2000 and V2000 series and been stunned by the class-leading standards of design and performance.
However, the KDL-40S2010 is from the entry-level S series and while the screen shares similar design and functionality with more illustrious Sony models we're less overawed by the performance. High-definition image quality is decent but standard sources struggle to justify the comparatively high price.
It is only an entry-level model but Sony's premium pricing means you can get a higher specification and equal, if not better, performance from less expensive alternatives.
Sony's S series may be its cheapest range of LCDs, but you wouldn't tell from looking at the design alone. All Bravia screens share the same clean, elegant styling -- which might disgruntle big spenders, but it means budget buyers are less compromised.
We're always waxing lyrical about Sony's effortless sense of style and Bravia screens really are among the best looking in the business. The subtle design, featuring a matte-grey surround supported by a brushed metal frame, gives the screen an understated appearance that'll stand the test of time while others fall foul of changing fashions.
The 40S2010's build quality is exceptional, with flawless finishing and a secure pedestal stand that can be swivelled without worrying about the screen's safety. There are several stiff, responsive controls at the top of the screen and minimal lighting at the base, but otherwise the front panel is beautifully untouched.
A set of standard AV inputs has been fitted on the left side of the rear panel, offering easy access for devices such as a camcorder or games console that you might not want to leave permanently connected.
All other connections have been tightly arranged into cut-away sections across the rear. There's a reasonable choice but we had hoped to find more than the one HDMI input, especially on a screen of this size that will be used with high-definition films in mind. A single digital input limits the number of HD sources you can connect simultaneously -- unless you use component adaptors. It's a standard gripe that some of the latest screens are starting to address, but even Sony's more expensive ranges have been slow to follow suit.
Nonetheless, if you're still relying on conventional analogue connections there are two RGB-enabled Scart terminals and component inputs that will support progressive-scan video from compatible DVD players. And PC or media centre owners can now connect using a standard D-Sub terminal with accompanying audio input -- a convergence feature that's previously been ignored by Sony.
The silver remote control feels lightweight, but the spacious arrangement, using oversized keys and sensible positioning, offers unconfusing functionality.
The 40S2010's on-paper specification is becoming standard for most midrange LCDs. The 1,366x768-pixel native resolution offers high-definition compatibility with both 720p and 1080i formats -- you won't be able to display the latest 1080p format, but content for that is still scarce and compatible high-resolution screens are much more expensive.
Both analogue and digital Freeview TV tuners have been integrated and the rear panel carries a CI card slot that lets you sign up to a few additional channels from TopUp TV services.