Sony kdl-37ex524

For a 37-inch TV costing just £649 - or even less if you search about online - the 37EX524 has a decent bounty of connections. Particularly impressive is the level of multimedia support, thanks to a LAN port and two USBs.

The LAN, rather brilliantly, can handle file streaming from DLNA PCs, as well as supporting the set's built-in Freeview HD tuner and providing access to Sony's BIV online system.

As for the USBs, they can play a decent selection of photo, music and video file types, though some of you may be disappointed to hear that MKV-wrapped files are not on the menu. You can also make the TV Wi-Fi by adding one of Sony's optional USB Wi-Fi dongles, and in a change from the EX523 series, you can even record from the Freeview HD tuner to a suitably formatted USB HDD drive.
Just bear in mind that as with all integrated TV USB recording solutions, you can only play back recordings you make this way onto the same TV you recorded them on. You can't stick the USB drive into a PC or portable media player and watch your recordings on that.

The other key discovery among the 37EX524's connections is a healthy count of four HDMIs - the same number you'd expect to see on a much higher-end TV.

Exploring the BIV online service next proves to be a very rewarding experience. The main reason for this is that Sony continues to focus its online efforts on delivering video streaming services rather than lots of the more 'apps-like' content delivered in such bewildering and often pointless quantities by some rival Smart TV platforms.

The full list of Sony video services on offer at the time of writing (the exact list can change at any time, of course, given the cloud-based nature of the content) shapes up like this:

The BBC iPlayer and Demand 5 broadcaster catch up services; a Sky News video headlines service; Sony's rather excellent Entertainment Television library of older TV series, taking in everything from Rescue Me to Diff'rent Strokes; LoveFilm; Sony's Qriocity movie library; Eurosport; YouTube; a new 3D experience channel (which obviously doesn't work on the non-3D 37EX524!); Billabong; blip.tv; Daily Motion; Ustudio; health and fitness videos from Livestrong.com; golfing tutorial videos from golflink.com; the Singing Fool music video channel; access to Video Podcast services; and a duo of foreign language options. There also used to be a collection of videos from the HowCast network, but these didn't seem to still be available during this test.

Non-video streaming services comprise Sony's subscription-based Qriocity music network, a 'Berliner Philharmonkier' section, concerts from moscham.com, and the National Public Radio service.
Making up the rest of the BIV 'smart TV' system are the Picasa online photo storage site, Facebook, Twitter, Skype support (if you add an optional webcam) and an open Web browser.

The only bum note in all this is the Web browser, which features text so small that it's pretty much illegible. Trying to surf the Net via a normal TV remote isn't a particularly fun experience, either.

As might be expected of an affordable TV with so much multimedia functionality up its sleeve, the 37EX524 isn't especially overburdened with picture processing features. The screen is a standard 50Hz affair, and there's no frame interpolation system onboard to reduce the potential for motion blur you get with any LCD panel.

There are a few fine-tuning 'toys' within the 37EX524's onscreen menus, though. These include no less than three different noise reduction tools (a general one, plus one dedicated to MPEG noise and one dedicated to dot noise), a black level booster, a multi-level dynamic contrast system, Sony's 'Live Colour' system, and a white balance adjustment that lets you tweak the gain and bias of the RGB colour elements.

Two more little 'fun' features worth running by you are TrackID and the presence sensor. The former of these rather brilliantly manages to identify successfully almost any music track that might be playing on TV when you press the Track ID button. The presence sensor, meanwhile, can detect whether anyone is in the room or not, and turn off the screen to save power if it doesn't think anyone is watching.