LCD already reigns supreme over small screen sizes but we've been unconvinced that the technology can outperform plasma in the large screen stakes…until now, that is.
Usually, plasmas display deeper black levels, creating enhanced contrast with colours that appear more natural. But, even compared to our class-leading Pioneer PDP-427XD plasma, Sony's KDL-40W2000 comes out on top.
Unrivalled image quality is accompanied by outstanding design and a future-proof specification that features uncompromised connectivity, sophisticated picture processing and full high-definition support including the latest 1080p formats. If there is a better picture for the price than this, we haven't seen it.
We've always been admirers of Sony's design ethos. There isn't anything particularly striking about the matte-grey frame supported by a slim speaker system beneath -- but attention to detail and ergonomic finishing means the W2000 series exudes aspirational quality.
The compact design is comparatively lightweight, encouraging wall-mounting options. Alternatively, there is an accompanying fixed stand, although a swivelling model would allow more flexibility with placement and seat positioning.
Connectivity is impressive, with all analogue and digital options present. High-definition sources can be directly connected using two HDMI digital video inputs or by using an adaptor with the analogue component or PC input. This means you can connect up to four HD sources at the same time including devices like Sky's HDTV receiver and next-generation DVD players and games consoles -- although HDMI offers the best performance and is usually the only connection that supports full 1080p signals.
If high-definition is still an afterthought then conventional users can rely on two Scart terminals or the component inputs. Both Scarts are RGB-enabled so the quality of the incoming signals will not be compromised. In typical setups the component inputs can be used to display progressive scan video from a compatible DVD player while the Scarts can be used for recording devices and a satellite/cable receiver.
There are some standard, easy-access AV inputs as well, but they are best reserved for short-term connections like a camcorder or games console, as quality is poor. You can also use the screen as a large monitor when connected to a PC or media centre and there's an often-ignored PC audio input too.
The screen features a so-called 'Full HD' resolution that provides the basis for an impressive future-proof specification. The 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution means you can display standard 720p and 1080i high-definition formats in their entirety -- without any of the downscaling typically employed by lower resolution models.