Sony KDL-32V5810 review

This TVs built-in HD tuner can't save this 32 incher from leaving us cold

Sony KDL-32V5810
It's a shame that the backlight problems blight what is an otherwise good TV

TechRadar Verdict

An HD tuner is attractive for its price, but its backlight flaws are less so


  • +

    Freesat HD tuner

  • +

    Good SD upscaling

  • +

    Sharp HD pictures


  • -

    Poor backlight

  • -

    Issues with black levels

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The Sony KDL-32V5810 has a handy trick up its sleeve that ensures it still looks very good value despite its size. This TV boasts a built-in HD tuner. This isn't compatible with the new Freeview HD terrestrial service, mind you, but it can handle broadcasts from the Freesat satellite platform once you've got the necessary satellite dish installed.

The 32V5810's connections are a cut above most rival models. Just for starters, it has an Ethernet port through which you can access Sony's AppliCast online features, content on a DLNA-enabled PC and potential Freesat interactive services in the future, like the BBC iPlayer. What's more, there's a D-Sub PC jack, four HDMIs and a USB input that can play photo, music and even video files.

Basically, the 32V5810 is streets ahead of its rivals when it comes to multimedia capability. The only bum note in this is the fact that Sony's AppliCast online system is so short of content that it's arguably barely worth considering as a feature.

A straightforward operating system, meanwhile, gives you access to a pretty respectable set of features and tweaks, and there's plenty going on behind the scenes – not least Sony's redoubtable Bravia Engine 3 processing system and Sony's Live Colour engine for boosting the tones and saturations of colours.

Feeling let down

It only takes a few dark scenes, though, for us to start feeling let down by the 32V5810's performance level. For in keeping with all too many recent Sony TVs, the corners of the picture distinctly exhibit some marked brightness inconsistency relative to the rest of the image. This is only visible during very dark scenes, admittedly, but such scenes routinely crop up in any film or drama.

And whenever the light inconsistencies appear, they can really distract you from what you're watching. After a while, you even find yourself looking for them. The 32V5810's black level response generally isn't quite as deep as we'd have liked it to be, either.

Making these problems even tougher to take on board is the fact that in most other ways, the pictures are very good. Its colours, for instance, look dynamic and punchy, with plenty of subtlety and impressive resolution of skin tones.

Also striking is how sharp the 32V5810's HD pictures look, despite the relative smallness of the screen. Playing a big part in this is the fact that the TV handles motion very well for a screen that doesn't have 100Hz processing. It does have Sony's 24p True Cinema processing, though, and this helps it keep a good lid on the sort of judder that can affect 24p Blu-ray playback.

The Bravia Engine 3 system does a fine job, too, of upscaling standard definition to the screen's full HD resolution and its sound is above average for such a small TV.

Try as we might, though, we never found ourselves able to feel as if the 32V5810's good points truly outweighed the damage wrought by that annoying backlight consistency issue.

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John Archer
AV Technology Contributor

John has been writing about home entertainment technology for more than two decades - an especially impressive feat considering he still claims to only be 35 years old (yeah, right). In that time he’s reviewed hundreds if not thousands of TVs, projectors and speakers, and spent frankly far too long sitting by himself in a dark room.