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Sony Bravia KDL-32E5500 review

Sony gets the designer TV bug with this 32", but we're not buying it

Our Verdict

A good performer with an innovative design, but it's far too dear given what's on offer for less

For

  • Eye-catching design
  • Good picture quality
  • Plenty of features

Against

  • Too expensive
  • The design won't be to everyone's taste
  • Some motion blur
  • Occasional image 'glow'

The Sony Bravia KDL-32E5500 32-inch LCD TV's main trick is nothing new. You can use most LCD TVs as a photo frame when you're not watching them, but no set takes this idea quite as seriously as this one.

With its gorgeous glossy, white main screen surround, thin black outer trim, neckless attachment to its desktop stand and slightly backtilted stance, it looks for all the world like a big, old picture frame, albeit a futuristic one.

Sony has at least tried to give it a wider appeal by making that black outer bezel available in wood or aluminium variants.

Sony kdl 32e5500 front

Also supporting the set as a multipurpose, multimedia TV are a USB port able to play photo, film or music files into the TV directly, and an Ethernet jack that enables you to access AV files stored on a networked DLNA PC.

What's more, the 32E5500 ships with a small selection of 'screensaver' paintings and photos stored in an internal memory and enabling you to access a few more via Sony's AppliCast online service, available through the Ethernet.

And to top it all off, there's a photo mode among the TV's image presets that drastically reduces the image's brightness so that you don't use too much power.

Picture options

The TV is also equipped with some potentially telling video features. For instance, it features Sony's latest Bravia Engine 3 processing system, with its elements aimed at improving colours, motion, detailing, noise levels and contrast.

Then there's the set's MotionFlow 100Hz system, which doubles the PAL refresh rate by interpolating wholly new frames of image data in a bid to reduce blur and judder. Other impressive specs include a good claimed contrast ratio of 80,000:1 and a full HD (1,920 x 1,080-pixel) resolution.

Sony kdl 32e5500 side

The only arguably bum notes in the 32E5500's spec are the facts that the TV can't connect to the internet wirelessly and doesn't have as much content on its AppliCast online system as do rival services.

A final point is that, apart from the fancy design, the 32E5500's specification and features are pretty much identical to those of Sony's 32W5500 model – a fact that will become rather significant once we start considering value for money.

Ease of use

Although it initially takes some getting used to, the 32E5500's 'double axis' onscreen menu system turns out to be reasonably intuitive and well presented, although a little long-winded at times. The remote control, meanwhile, is also elegant and well thought out.

Sony kdl 32e5500 remote

Picture

The 32E5500's pictures are excellent in many ways. Dark scenes, for instance, look more natural, three-dimensional and engaging than on the vast majority of other 32in TVs, thanks to a nearly impeccable black level performance for LCD.

Colours are strikingly vibrant, too, combining rich saturations with natural tones, and joining forces with that excellent black level response in helping pictures look exceptionally dynamic for this relatively small screen size.

Sony kdl 32e5500 angle

Sony has traditionally delivered very sharp HD pictures with its LCD TVs and this happy trend continues with the 32E5500. Every last detail of our favourite Blu-ray discs are presented with pin-point accuracy and without the grittiness or noise that can affect very sharp pictures.

The MotionFlow processing, meanwhile, does a startlingly good job of reducing judder in the picture and doesn't throw up many unwanted side effects either as long as you avoid its 'high' setting option.

Standard-definition pictures look very decent in most ways, too, thanks no doubt to the efforts of the Bravia Engine 3 processing. Two issues take some of the sheen off the 32E5500's picture gloss, though.

The worst of these concerns motion blur, because oddly, despite the MotionFlow processing, moving objects look less crisp than on other, larger Sony models we've seen recently.

The other problem is the rather odd way that some bright elements in an otherwise very dark picture seem to glow with a bluish hue. Thankfully, this only happens very rarely, but it seems to stand out like a sore thumb when it does.

Audio credentials

As with most smallish flat TVs, the 32E5500's audio could have done with serving up a bit more bass. But it has enough mid-range 'space' to leave voices sounding realistic, and treble details are well presented, without harshness.

Earlier on we remarked that the 32E5500 is essentially just a fancier looking version of the 32W5500. This becomes very significant when you consider that we've seen 32W5500's on sale for less than £600, while the cheapest price we've found on the 32E5500 is £945. So, you're paying the best part of £400 for a fancy design.

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Tech Specs

Product TypeLCD TV
Scan Format1080p
Standard Refresh Rate50 Hz
Digital TunerDVB-C (MPEG4), DVB-T (MPEG4)
Video Signal StandardHDTV 1080p
Number of HDMI Ports4
Number of SCART Interfaces2
Product FamilyBRAVIA
Brand NameSony
Screen Size81.3 cm (32")
Aspect Ratio16:9
Horizontal Viewing Angle178
Vertical Viewing Angle178°
EthernetYes
Analog TunerNTSC, PAL, SECAM
Ethernet TechnologyEthernet
USBYes
HDMIYes
Weight with Stand (Approximate)14.50 kg
Backlight TechnologyCCFL
VESA Mount Standard200 x 200
Operating Power Consumption81 W
Standby Power Consumption170 mW
Dynamic Contrast Ratio80,000:1
RMS Output Power20 W
Electronic Program GuideYes
Electronic Program Guide TypeGUIDE Plus+
DLNA CertifiedYes
VGAYes
S-VideoYes
HeadphoneYes
Digital Audio OutputYes
Height with Stand559 mm
Width with Stand827 mm
Depth with Stand259 mm
Number of Common Interface1
CI+Yes
Composite VideoYes
Component VideoYes
SCARTYes
Enhanced Refresh Rate100 Hz
Height539 mm
Width827 mm
Depth94 mm
ColourWhite, Black
Sound SystemDolby Digital, Surround Sound
Maximum Resolution1920 x 1080
FeaturesPicture in Picture, Picture and Picture (PAP), Child Lock, Sleep Timer, Teletext, Channel Labeling, Favorite Channel Selection, Auto Program
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product ModelKDL-32E5500
Product NameBRAVIA KDL-32E5500 32" LCD TV
Product LineBRAVIA
Manufacturer Part NumberKDL-32E5500
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.sony.co.uk
Package Contents
  • BRAVIA KDL-32E5500 LCD TV
  • AC Cable
  • Operating Instructions
  • Table-Top Stand
  • Remote Commander
SpeakersYes
Weight (Approximate)12.50 kg