Back in the days of the 1990s, the Trinitron TVs were a household name and the defacto monitor for the broadcasting industry. Though it managed to maintain its lead in the latter, newer flat panels have superseded its market dominance which saw the demise of Sony's consumer TV business.
After years of dormancy, Sony is back on its feet with a new marketing strategy and a refreshed lineup of LCD TVs by the name of Bravia (or Best Resolution Audio Video Integrated Architecture). So can the Bravias relive Sony's Trinitron legacy?Design
Design and aesthetics have always been Sony's forte, and it manages to keep its reputation with the Bravia V series. The KLV-V32A10 has a distinctive stealth-like appearance with its jet-black finish lined with an all-round matt-silver trim. A roll of cloth-grilled speakers occupy the bottom-front real estate while easy access connectivity and control buttons flank the sides.
This sleek beauty has a slim 111mm waistline and occupies 808 x 588mm of wall space. Supporting its 22.9kg frame is a steady yet versatile stand which swivels and tilts for ease of installation. To compensate for the relative lack of ventilation slots, Sony had integrated three quiet low-speed cooling fans to keep the unit's operating temperature in check.
We reckon this will work great with games! (Click to enlarge image)
Catering to the needs of both newbies and experienced consumers is a comprehensive user menu with its variety of pre-configured and customisable A/V configurations, plus a suite of advanced video settings. While the menu is well-structured, we felt that it could be better organised for easier usage. For example, options related to video tweaking are found in three sub-menus instead of being consolidated under the picture sub-menu.
The Bravia is a high-definition-ready out-of-the-box offering with a 1,366 x 768-pixel resolution and the ability to accept both 720p and 1080i HD signals. At the heart of the unit is a 7th-generation LCD panel which beats the competition with its high 1300:1 contrast ratio coupled with a more down-to-earth 500cd/m2 brightness. The panel also sports a fast 8ms response time which eliminates ghosting problems as apparent in our testing.
Integrating a smart video optimisation engine is the in thing nowadays, and the Sony Bravia is no exception. Dubbed the Light Sensor, Sony's claims it will intelligently adjust the screen's brightness according to the actual room lighting conditions. However, in numerous tests performed in our Lab, we were unable to observe distinguishable differences in brightness between a fully lit and a dim Lab.
Sony has also introduced an interesting user interface by the name of WEGA Gate. This feature provides graphical menus which include listings of TV channels and A/V inputs, a browser for photo files and a shortcut to the setting menu. The idea behind the WEGA Gate concept is to allow users to conveniently control the TV using the onscreen display instead of relying on a variety of remote control button presses.
Side component-video input perfect for the upcoming PS3 and Xbox 360.
(Click to enlarge image)
The Bravia broke the record for featuring the most flexible connectivity options. Decked on the side and rear of the unit are three sets of component-video inputs, a concealed PC input and an all-digital A/V HDMI input. Legacy inputs includes three sets of composite A/V and an S-Video input, plus composite A/V output. A skip function allows users to configure the TV to bypass any unused input to minimise the time required to scroll in between.
Video calibration was a breeze with the Bravia as it came with a well-configured Standard setting requiring only minor adjustment for the colour and hue. We started our evaluation by scrutinising a series of Avia test patterns yielding a set of interesting results. While it managed to achieve accurate colour reproduction, perfect geometry and convergence, we encountered difficulties differentiating the deepest shades of black in our greyscale test pattern.
The minor black-level issue did not stop the Sony from putting up an excellent show with our reference movie titles. Displayed images were unusually sharp with rich and vibrant colours on the whole. The colosseum showdown between Maximus and Commodus in Gladiator came alive with deep red roses, true-to-live skin tones and good shadow details. We could even make out the perspiration on Russell Crowe's battered face during one of the many close-up shots in the highly charged clip.
Black bars on an otherwise outstanding picture from a laptop. (Click to enlarge image)
Like most of its peers, audio dished out by the built-in speakers was thin-sounding to our ears. This is despite the fact that Sony has thrown in a digital amplifier to improve the sonic quality. Perhaps as a consolation, the audio does offer pristine-clear presentation with little sign of harshness even when driven loud.