Here's how it usually works: you upgrade your CRT television to a flatscreen and dump the old tube TV in the bedroom. But what happens when you want to upgrade the CRT or simply don't have the space in your bedroom anymore? It's time to think of a smaller flatscreen. The Sony S-series, for example, is a seriously tricked-out television, and comes with several features specifically targeted at the bedroom user.
The KDL22S5700S shares a similar look to last year's series with its coloured bezel and "funky" styling. The bezel itself is available in a huge range of white, and while it's a little plastic-y, it is still attractive. But the most distinctive part of the design would have to be the green LED clock. It's dimmable, and you can turn it off if you like — though it comes back on if you turn the television off.
The Sony comes on an angled stand, which is a little different — it doesn't sit perfectly horizontal. This is possibly to reduce glare from windows and other light sources. We're big fans of the little carry handle, though, which adds some portability to the unit, and it's quite tote-able at only 7.5kg.
One thing we did notice is that some of the ports are in strange places — for example, the Ethernet is mounted on the side. We'd prefer that we had a chunky Cat-5 cable hanging out the back of our television and not the side.
In keeping with the iTheme, the remote control is also white — instead of the traditional steel-grey — and is relatively user-friendly.
Four years ago, Sony debuted its first S-series television, and given that this screen comes from the same plant it's unsurprising that the basic specs haven't changed that much. The panel itself is still 1366x768 resolution, but at least its guts have been upgraded with the newest Bravia Engine 3 picture processor and it will now accept a 1080p source.
The most significant upgrade on last year's model is the addition of DLNA support, which means you can stream photos, movies and music from another PC or NAS unit. But file support is a little spartan, with only JPEG, MP3, LPCM, MPEG2 and AVCHD supported. Missing is any support for the ever-popular DivX, and even Windows and Apple file formats are missing. Sony technicians tell us the list is unlikely to expand until the next model is available, either. We can't wait till LG or Samsung come out with a competing model — with their superior file support their products will be a force to be reckoned with.
Connectivity options are high with two HDMI inputs, Ethernet (of course), one USB port, VGA, two component inputs and three AV inputs. The TV also features two audio outs (in lieu of a digital output) plus a headphone connection, which means you can upgrade the on-board sound if you choose. The USB port is used for dual purposes — viewing media from USB sticks, and updating the firmware. But Sony, why not enable updates via Ethernet instead?
Though it's barely mentioned anywhere, the television supports geotagged pictures — pressing the "Info" button gives you a small world map with an indicator telling you where the picture was taken.
If you're keen on a TV with green credentials then you'll be happy to know that the Sony uses only 48W of power, and has a very healthy 4.5 Energy Stars — as much as the "built from the green up" WE5.
Given the entry-level nature of this television, we found it very difficult to fault it in terms of performance. We started with the on-board tuner, and images came through bright, crisp and without any ghosting. The on-board EPG is also easy to read — which is important for a small TV likely to live at the other side of the room.
The television coped equally well with both standard-def and high-def sources. With a DVD source jacked into the back we found it performed relatively well with LOTR: The Fellowship of the Rings with good detail, colour and blacks — though not inky — imparted a sense of true depth.
When given MI3 on Blu-ray to play with, the Sony did a rather good job. It demonstrated its image processing chops in the beginning of the bridge sequence by cleaning up any moire on the fence, and showing little tendency for judder. This last point was helped by its 24p support — which is great for such a small TV — and shows that the S-series would make a great partner for a PS3 or BDP-S350 Blu-ray player. Yes, we have seen deeper blacks, but only on more expensive Bravias.
The Sony gave an exciting performance for movies, though it was lacking in real bass response. Dialogue was clear and voices had presence, if a lack of weight. However, though you can stream MP3s onto it we wouldn't want to use it for music. For example, Nick Cave sounded like he was singing at the other end of a hallway under a doona during Red Right Hand — a lot of the intimacy and menace was lost.
As this is a bedroom TV, we could see this being used quite competently as a PC monitor. Text was crisp at 1360x768 and it would be perfect for this role, if only that the lack of a height adjustable stand didn't make for poor ergonomics.
The only real downsides to this television, apart from the lack of true black, was that there was a degree of backlight clouding (or grey blobs) from two of the corners, and off-axis viewing was lacking in contrast. However, these problems are unavoidable at this price level, and certainly not a major problem.
For a "budget" television the KDL22S5700S performed very well. It was very much an all-rounder and did every task well, and given that off-axis viewing isn't an issue in most bedrooms — you'll pretty much watch it from the same place every time — it held up quite well. As a result, the Sony is a great little bedroom TV — a little pricey, but the most fully featured of its type.