Overall image quality is good. While it may lack the faster refresh rates of the Motionflow models (this screen is unapologetically 50Hz), the panel is bolstered by the upspec Bravia Engine 3 picture processing suite.
Freeview HD channels are smooth and clear, lacking the chaotic fizz of low-bitrate standard def fare, and Blu-rays look extremely nice.
Picture parameter control is better than you might expect from a mainstream 32-inch TV. There may be only three picture presets (Standard, Vivid and Custom), but there's plenty of opportunities for tweaking. In the Advanced menu you'll find a Black Corrector, Advanced Contrast Enhancer and Gamma adjustment. There's also the option of switching the set's Film Mode to Auto or Off (you might as well leave this on Auto as it seems to contribute little either way).
One of the more curious embellishments you'll find is Live Colour. By fiddling with one of the three settings (Low, Mid and High settings), you can turn lemon yellow into tangerine Orange. Generally speaking, this is not a good thing. There's also an Auto White limiter, to prevent peaks from searing your retina.
The toughest test for any LCD display is motion resolution. While a static 1080p image sparkles with tantalising detail, much of that clarity is lost when objects begin to move. Without Motionflow to rescue things, clarity drops from 1,080 lines to around 600 (maybe 625, it's difficult to tell on such a small screen). The good news is that there are no motion compensation artefacts. Horizontal panning is extremely smooth, with no overt judder.
A challenging test of horizontally scrolling patterns of English and Japanese text played at varying (decreasing) luminance levels shows some minor image bleariness at full throttle that then worsens as the greyness takes hold, but the performance is generally much better than expected.
Colour fidelity is generally acceptable. Reds are a little orangey, but not outrageously so. The CCFL backlight does however rob the panel of deep blacks. A test sequence of the Tokyo Tower, shot at night, combines bright peaks from the illuminated tower and surrounding buildings, with deeply shadowed trees and background. The KDL-32EX403 struggles to reveal depth in the gloom and shadow detail is crushed.
There is a pretty simple fix for this. You can negate this perceived lack of black level by keeping your ambient room light medium to high. A classic trait of CCFL screens is that they look more dynamic and contrasty in bright environments than they do in subdued lighting, which is why they punch above their weight in retail outlets. Keeping the lights on when you settle down to watch a movie may seem a little counter intuitive, but it will lead to a better viewing experience with this particular set.
There's also an Ambient sensor which automatically detects the brightness levels of light in the room, and adjusts accordingly.