Freesat has from being an emergency digital switchover option to squaring purposefully up to Sky, with the prospect of subscription-free HD waiting tantalisingly in the wings.

Broadcasting is undergoing some exciting developments so the satellite-ready Bravia KDL-32W5810 is a very timely telly.

Features

The 'buy me' feature of the Sony 32W5810 is, of course, that satellite tuner. If you have a dish on the side of your house, all you have to do is hook up the set and you're ready to receive free-to-air satellite broadcasting, some of which is in crystal clear HD.

The set is also capable of tuning into DVB-S2 signals, although it won't deliver them and Freesat at the same time.

Digital terrestrial diehards need not fear, because the set also packs a standard Freeview tuner, while a third, analogue decoder will enable you to wring the last few drops of television value from the soon-to-be obsolete platform.

The display is 1080p, which is still just about worth a mention at this size, and all the little dots are shepherded into order by the third generation of Sony's consistently impressive Bravia Engine.

Built-in gadgetry includes AppliCast web widgets that provide (limited) access to the internet, while a USB player enables you to enjoy downloaded video and music files.

Ease of use

How much you enjoy using the 32W5810 is entirely dependent on your reaction to the company's Xross system. As the name suggests, this unusual interface arranges everything along the vertical and horizontal axes of a big cross, inviting you to scoot left and right for the main bits and up and down for the subsections therein.

Sony kdl-32w5810

Those used to conventional, table-style arrangements might find their initial encounters with this layout rather daunting; it can feel a little like navigating a simple, but strangely inscrutable logic puzzle, with the lurking fear that you might disappear down a pathway and find yourself lost in a frightening world of gamma adjustment or black stretching.

Once mastered, though, you almost immediately start wondering why more manufacturers don't adopt a similar system, making the world a much simpler place for everyone. You can link in other compatible Sony products, too, and never need another remote control ever again.

Picture

Bravia Engine continues its admirable run with a performance that manages to be technically adept, while remaining pleasingly natural. There is about as much detail as a 32in set can handle, with Blu-ray and HD satellite feeds rendered in precise detail, while DVD and even standard-definition TV scrub up to impressive effect.

The Sony manages the neat trick of rendering eyeball-boggling amounts of information without ever drawing unnecessary attention to itself. This is particularly important with movies, which retain a pleasant, film-like warmth, instead of the rather clinical digital sheen some rival systems can apply.

Motion is about as slick as any we've seen, with precious little in the way of judder or jumping during sweeping camera pans, while more fast-paced action is similarly free from glitches.

Colours, meanwhile, are as saturated or as subtle as is required. The tartrazine headache of CBeebies, for example, is as bold and as primary-coloured as any adult will be able to withstand, while a DVD about killer whales from the marine nature epic, Blue World, is a bone-chillingly accurate blend of gunmetal seas breaking onto rustcoloured rocks.

Sony kdl-32w5810

Blacks bottom out sooner than we'd like, but as this is true of just about every non-LED liquid crystal set on the market, it's hardly a crippling flaw.

Sound

The fuller body adds an extra degree of resonance absent from super-thin TVs. The sound field is relatively spacious, doing a reasonable impression of three dimensions (with, or preferably without the pseudo-surround mode engaged) and with a shade more bass than the average wafer-like set.

It can withstand a fair degree of cranking, too, although we did notice a degree of cabinet buzz caused by middle-to-higher frequencies with the volume in the uppermost quarter of its range.

Value

Anything over £750 is approaching the upper limit of what one might expect to pay for a 32in set, however good, and the Sony is by no means perfect.

On the other hand, it's as impressive an LCD as we've seen for a while and is about as future-proofed as it can be, so it'll last for years and will save you at least the price of a Freesat digibox in the process. We advise anyone looking for a 32in TV to place this one towards the top of their list.

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