The TV adverts may be impressive but can Sony's mid-range 32in Bravia match up to the marketing department's hype?
You’ve all seen the bunny adverts (clever, if a tad trippy), so you all know what a Sony Bravia is: it’s a nice telly that does colours really, really well. But are all Bravias created equal? Not a bit of it.
At one end of the scale, there’s your bargain-basement S-series and U-series sets, kitted out with just enough kit to satisfy your gadget cravings and justify that upmarket badge.
At the other end, you’ll find the flagship W and X-series models, resplendent in Full HD shininess and heaving under the weight of their extensive specifications.
So, the D-series? It sits in the middle. Not alphabetically, of course – that’d be too logical – but in terms of spec. So, with this KDL-32D3000, you’ve an HD-Ready 32in panel, a decent array of sockets and 100Hz image enhancement for smoother motion.
That’s not all. There’s also 1080p/24fps support for better results with Blu-ray and HD DVD and Sony’s midrange Bravia Engine picture processing (top-spec sets get the ‘EX’ version of the same system).
A cute new feature is the ‘Theatre Mode’ for picture settings: we’ve seen similar systems on other sets, but few rivals can claim that their settings have been endorsed for quality by a motion pictures studio. Of course, it helps that said studio is Sony Pictures Entertainment.
What else? Refreshingly straight-laced styling – no ‘me, too’ glossy black trim here – coupled to a good standard of build and simply brilliant usability. This is, after all, a Sony.
Few rival sets get anywhere near this Sony for punch or brightness. It’s got an exceptionally detailed image – more so, even, than that of Panasonic’s excellent TX-32LXD700 – and it really snaps foreground details at you, demanding your viewing attention even with plain old Freeview TV.
You’re treated to all the textures of different surfaces, all the lines and marks on an actor’s skin: it’s a remarkably insightful presentation, especially from a panel that ‘only’ offers HD-Ready 1366x768 resolution.
Come on, see the noise
The payoff from this approach seems to be increased digital noise and grain: if the picture signal is poor (and let’s be honest, it often is with digital TV) you’ll see it, warts and all.
True, with 1080p video from Blu-ray, the Sony’s in its element, punching out the vital hues of Pirates Of The Caribbean in style – but even here, if the disc transfer is taken from an older, grainier movie, the Sony’s detailed picture offers no hiding place.
And while we’re on a minor moan, the Sony’s image just can’t be tweaked to deliver the same black depth as those of its Panasonic rival. It’s a rich enough picture, but you can get a denser, more three-dimensional result from the similarly priced Panny.
That’s not to say we dislike this set – far from it. It’s outstanding, and a very close contender for the top slot. If you can get a good deal, you must give it serious consideration.