Far too many TVs struggle with bass. They either distort or rattle horrendously, or don't bother trying to produce it at all. The Sony KD-28DX51U,however, is an exception, building a dedicated,15W RMS subwoofer into its rear end.
It's got a pretty interesting front end, too. The eccentric combination of jet-black screen frame/midsection and silver, speaker-bearing 'wings' is as stylish as it is unique.
The 28DX51U's connections reveal it to have a built-in digital tuner. The give-aways are a CAM slot for adding extra services (such as Top Up TV) and a trio of RF jacks: one direct input so the digital tuner gets the cleanest signal possible, and two more for looping the signal through secondary devices such as a VCR or DVD recorder. Other connections include two Scarts, stereo audio outputs, and full suite of front AV accommodation.
Secondary features associated with the digital tuner include support for the Freeview seven-day EPG, from which you can directly select up to 12 programmes for a 'reminder' or timer recording. You can also sort the listings by category, with the only disappointment being that there's no quick way to look ahead to distant days.
The only other more general features of interest are video noise reduction, RGB centering, and Virtual Dolby audio processing.
In action, the 28DX51U's sonics actually prove a touch disappointing. The subwoofer makes its presence felt, but not in a particularly likeable way, sounding rather thuddy and boxed in. And the other speakers sound muddy, dense and unclear, with neither sufficient mid-range power or enough treble to give action scenes any detail. At least the cabinet doesn't rattle even under severe duress, and the soundstage is exceptionally wide.
The 28DX15U's pictures are roughly in line with those of other 50Hz Sony efforts we've seen recently - which is to say good rather than excellent. Arguably their strongest point is the suppression of MPEG decoding noise with Freeview digital broadcasts, which makes watching digital broadcasts much more pleasurable than usual.
Images with all sources look generally smooth and direct, not least because they're delivered without serious moiring interference or grain. Edges are well rendered, too, and free of ghosting or haloes.
Black levels are deep, giving pictures plenty of depth, and the colour tone is consistently natural no matter how bright or otherwise your source material. But from here on things go downhill...
First, the picture looks quite soft, especially when watching the RGB Scart. Also the 28DX51U's colours look strangely muted. Two smaller complaints are the pronounced 50Hz flicker at times, and that RGBfed pictures are missing a slight section of their left-hand side.
Although it's not a bad TV, we're slightly disappointed with the 28DX51U. Its aggressive looks, digital tuner and built-in sub promise much. But, in the end, neither the pictures nor the sound are special enough to see that promise fulfilled to our satisfaction. John Archer