If there's one thing above all else we wish we could change about the vast majority of budget CRT TVs, it's the lack of bass in their audio. More often than not, low-rent TVs sound thin and harsh, with a noticeable lack of rumble. So, by building a subwoofer into its latest, the KV-28HX15U, Sony appears to have stolen a march on the bulk of the cheap-seats competition.

Aesthetically, the set is a notch above the budget norm. Its chunky frame looks more robust than most of its rivals, while a crafty combination of forward and backward curves/angles to either side of the screen give it a dash of panache. Things are resolutely mainstream on the connections front, though. A normal set of front AV jacks are joined by just a couple of Scarts on the TV's rear. And only one of these can take our beloved RGB feeds.

If it's features you want, the KV-28HX15U isn't exactly overloaded. Aside from the built-in subwoofer already mentioned, the only things worth covering are noise reduction, picture rotation for compensating for slant caused by the earth's magnetic field and RGB centring.

Day to day use of the KV-28HX15U is fairly straightforward. The remote control is sensibly laid out and reasonably spacious, and the onscreen menus are reasonably clear - though we could live without the obscure icons and some slightly longwinded adjustment processes.

By budget TV standards, the KV-28HX15U's picture rates as pretty good - but certainly can't be considered outstanding.First among its strengths is colour. We don't say this because the KV-28HX15U enjoys particularly vivid saturations, though. In fact, colours are noticeably less vibrant here than on more expensive Sony models.

Our colour praise instead concerns the tight containment of colours within their proper boundaries, the overt naturalism of their tone from all types of source - and above all, their freedom from dot crawl, moiring or haloing interference.

Colour capture

The KV-28HX15U's picture also boasts a pretty decent contrast range. Again, we're not talking about black levels that would challenge a good mid-range TV, but dark areas certainly look richer than on a disturbingly large number of ultra-budget competitors.

The two above picture pluses alone are enough to ensure that the KV-28HX15U certainly doesn't disgrace the Sony name, but there are a few hitches around. Firstly, the picture looks a touch soft and short of fine detail - in spite of the decent colour containment.

Next up, the picture's geometry isn't all that great, with noticeable curving in each extreme corner. And finally, the 50Hz flicker problem somehow seems a bit more pronounced here than is usual for a 28in CRT TV. Sonically, that built-in subwoofer does earn its corn - but doesn't quite lift us into audio dreamland.

There's unquestionably more bass than you'd normally hear with a budget Nicam TV, as explosions sound more fulsome, male voices sound more rounded, and the soundstage sounds generally richer and more potent.

Having said all that, the bass can sound a touch a forced from time to time - and when it does so, it also tends to become a bit overwhelming. Especially as there doesn't seem to be a balancing preponderance of treble at the opposite end of the audio spectrum.

It's good to see Sony returning to the aggressively-priced section of the TV world after a rather too-lengthy obsession with the high-end. In the KV-28HX15, it's certainly got an appealing proposition for the shoestring buyer. But at the same time, the set certainly can't realistically be considered a bona fide budget classic. John Archer