That the KDL-32EX503 is such a joy to use is largely down to its use of the XrossMediaBar user interface, as debuted on the PlayStation 3. It can be a bit baffling at first, but it doesn't take long before navigating the axes is second nature.
As well as now/next information for all digital (and analogue) TV channels, the XMB presents connected devices (USB sticks, a Blu-ray player or a PS3) as part of the TV's architecture, and it's a cinch to skip between sources and settings.
Also on the XMB are icons for the widgets that make up Sony's Bravia Internet Video platform. It's worth mentioning that the service is stuffed with too many widgets. Aside from the big content providers, there are heaps of US-centric portals that are of little worth and do detract from the service by crowding-out the useful widgets. That said, the uniform interface for each widget is well designed, relaying on high-resolution grids and thumbnails and proves simple to use.
Also popping up on the XMB axis are external devices such as a USB memory stick, or a PC connected via DLNA. Music and photos are no trouble, with both MP3 music and JPEG/RAW photos treated well, though compatibility with TIFF, BMP and GIF pictures would be appreciated – as would support for WMV music and some lossless formats.
Video is less convincing. Sony has expanded the video codecs it supports and we managed to get MPEG, AVC, AVCHD, MP4, DivX, XviD and AVI files to play without any problems, though one MP4 file was played with audio only and some DivX files were displayed in their native size rather than fullscreen.
To skip past the dross you'll need to master Sony's clever new remote control. A concave design with a battery compartment that slides out, the layout is logical and, for the most part, it's very comfortable to operate.
Buttons are clearly labelled and just about large enough for clumsy hands, though we did find that the all-important blue 'Home' button is a tad too close to the directional arrows and did cause us to make mistakes. Rather oddly there's a standby button on the remote's rear, though we're not sure it serves much purpose.