Sony kdl-32cx523

An entry-level TV with some distinctly mid-range features, the KDL-32CX523 nevertheless has an unfinished feel to it. With Skype coming soon and Track ID refusing to work on our sample, we suspect there's more to come – and there's great potential here for a value-busting living room set.

We liked

The refreshed user interface is a work of art, while the glossy and pin-sharp electronic programme guide for Freeview HD is as good-looking as the hi-def TV channels themselves.

Blu-ray and digital files are also handled well, while the X-Reality processing enables even low-rent online videos to be highly watchable on the full HD screen.

The smartphone app, while not instantly perfect, is intuitive and speedy, and helps lift the KDL-32CX523 above some of its rivals – as does the appearance of BBC iPlayer and its stablemates in the excellent Bravia Internet Video collection.

We disliked

The KDL-32CX523 looks much less plasticky than most TVs of this size and price, but it's a completely uninspiring design. Without LED backlighting there's a question mark over the KDL-32CX523's contrast, and we spotted some blur and judder, too.

The lack of built-in Wi-Fi is understandable, but annoying, given the KDL-32CX523's tremendous haul of online and networking features – though the web browser proved too tricky to read.

Final verdict

Just as X-Reality does with poor quality video, the few niggles we have about the KDL-32CX523's ultimate picture quality should also be glossed over; this is an exciting package from Sony.

Destined to be some people's first taste of an online video hub, and with smartphone control, networking (albeit wired) and the possibility of Skype video calling for upgraders, the KDL-32CX523 has the potential to be one of the best mainstream TVs yet. The phrase 'entry-level' just got a whole lot more exciting.

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