At last, we have a 37in TV that carries a Freeview HD tuner that doesn't cost the earth. To celebrate the ground-breaking nature of the Bravia KDL-37EX503, Sony has departed from its usual aesthetic by adding a comely strip of brushed aluminium to the bottom edge.
The set's rear is attractive, too, thanks to the inclusion of four HDMIs, a USB for playing MP3, JPEG, and AVC/AVCHD/DivX/MPEG4 video files, and an Ethernet port. As well as enabling you to stream from DLNA PCs, the Ethernet connects to Sony's new Bravia Internet Video platform.
This is a spectacular improvement on the previous AppliCast system and offers full video streaming from a huge array of sources including YouTube, Daily Motion, singingfool, and perhaps most significantly, LoveFilm. This latter portal will soon let you stream full films via your account, provided your broadband connection is up to the job.
The KDL-37EX503 provides further help in this regard by carrying a seven-second buffer and automatic PING detection.
Other significant findings include Sony's MotionFlow 100Hz processing, the brand's dependable Bravia Engine 3 video processing system, Live Colour processing and MPEG noise reduction.
Kudos must also go, too, to the Freeview HD EPG, which is neat and tidy and shows a small version of your selected channel's picture.
The 37EX503 happily backs up its Freeview HD innovation with some impressive LCD picture quality. This kicks off in fine style with its black level response, which is among the deepest we've seen on a non-LED LCD TV.
Even better, the black is consistent across the screen, with only the faintest trace of light bleeding into the corners. Colours are natural and exceptionally subtly blended while the set's various processing systems do well at reining in LCD's inherent motion blur problems while generating precious few unwanted side effects.
This motion prowess helps both HD and SD pictures look enjoyably detailed. As satisfying as they are, HD pictures aren't as pin-sharp as we've seen on one or two rival screens. Though this isn't necessarily a bad thing if you're watching one of the slightly grainy HD broadcasts that occasionally blot Freeview HD's generally good quality copybook.
Another area where it could improve is its colour vibrancy, with tones looking slightly muted versus leading lights like the Philips 37PFL9604. Plus, of course (though this is hardly Sony's fault) Freeview HD's coverage is currently rather limited.
But with the 37EX503 adding an above average audio performance to its mighty fine pictures, it's easily good enough overall to be one of Freeview HD's first TV stars
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