Sony kdl-37ex524

TVs which use edge LED lighting like the 37EX524 tend to deliver extremely bright, punchy pictures but suffer from problems during dark scenes - in particular inconsistent brightness levels, where pools or clouds of extra brightness appear over some parts of the picture, especially in the corners. The 37EX524, though, turns edge LED preconceptions completely on their head.

For actually, its presentation of dark scenes is superb for its price level. After nudging down the backlight and contrast settings from the levels used by the TV's presets, dark scenes look almost completely uniform in their blackness. Even the extreme corners of the screen hardly vary at all from the black levels at the centre - an achievement made all the more impressive by the fact that the black level response being delivered is exceptionally rich and deep by LCD TV standards.

The grey pall that hangs over dark scenes on so many LCD TVs - especially ones at the more affordable end of the market - just isn't there. Instead black colours actually look black, and you're not left peering through cloudiness for shadow details. It's really reassuring to discover in the shape of the 37EX524 that affordable edge LED TVs can deliver dark scenes convincingly after all.

The catch is that, as hinted earlier, the settings used to deliver the 37EX524's impeccable black level response also leave the picture looking a bit low on brightness compared with typical edge LED sets. You just don't get the same explosive colours and retina-endangering peak whites routinely delivered by edge LED TVs from the likes of Samsung and LG.

While this could be considered a fairly serious flaw for anyone who's looking for a TV to install in a very bright environment, though, for everyone else it's certainly not the end of the world. In fact, the slightly subdued look to the 37EX524's colours helps them contain some really fine tonal subtlety, as well as producing an overall tone that's unusually cinematic, for want of a better world.

Certainly there didn't seem to be as much need as usual to spend any significant time tinkering with the provided colour adjustment tools.

The 37EX524's rather muted appearance does play a part in a further significant shortcoming of the set, though: a lack of apparent sharpness in HD pictures. The way very bright screens can push out every pixel of detail in a picture can help their HD pictures appear much sharper than they actually are, especially during scenes containing a mixture of bright and dark content. But the 37EX524 just hasn't got the light output 'punch' to deliver this detail illusion.

Nor is the lack of brightness the only or even the main reason why the 37EX524's HD pictures look slightly soft. For the set also quite obviously loses resolution when it's showing motion due to its panel response time. This is a common failing with budget, 50Hz TVs, but the extent of the 'blurring' on the 37EX524 is slightly higher than it is on some rival sets at the same approximate market level.

HD pictures do still look HD, it must be stressed, despite the twin 'softeners' of its motion blur and lack of vibrancy. But the HD impact certainly isn't as emphatic as it is on some rival sets.

Turning to standard definition, the motion blur remains - maybe even increases a little. But for the most part the 37EX524 remains a more than satisfactory handler of standard def sources, predominantly because its new X-Reality processing engine does a fine job of suppressing block and dot noise.

The final issue to raise is a loss of contrast, colour saturation and backlight consistency if you have to watch the TV from an angle of 30-40 degrees or more. But of course, this is true also of just about every other LCD TV.