Sony's latest 32in LCD is a budget offering – but can it maintain its high standards in a competitive market?
Few markets in the gadget world are as fiercely competitive as that of 32in LCDs. In the last year sets from LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Toshiba, Hitachi, Sharp and Philips have piled into the TV equivalent of a Royal Rumble, with the result being record low prices.
Even Sony, traditionally a high-end player, has been sucked into the price war, and the KDL-32P3020 is one of its budget offerings.
Budget price, budget build
Unfortunately, the first thing to dawn on us is that, perhaps for the first time, here is a budget Sony that does little to disguise the fact. The design is merely functional, the remote is dull, the stand won't swivel and the on-screen menus are ugly (although easy to follow).
Still, the KDL-32P3020 does have all the features and functions you'd expect from a 32in telly: two HDMI inputs, a digital tuner and a (720p) HD-ready resolution of 1366x768 pixels.
So what does that 720p picture look like? Absolutely stunning, thanks for asking. Feed it a high-def source and you get brilliantly realistic skin tones alongside deep, accurate black levels and a picture that's simply chock-full of detail.
The fantastic colour-range makes for a brilliantly rounded, three-dimensional image. Standard-def DVD also looks smooth and sharp. Again, black levels were class-leading.
Last but not least, the built-in Freeview tuner was as reliable as we've come to expect from Sony: pictures were stable, largely free from digital noise and had plenty of detail to offer.
We've heard better Sony sets in the past, but despite an occasional lack of clarity the audio is better than most in this class.
Sony have made all the right decisions in bringing this set in at a competitive price. They've shaved a few edges in the design and audio departments while keeping that all-important picture quality – including excellent Bravia Engine processing technology – bang up to scratch. Bravo!
Sony KDL-32P3020 review
There are better-looking and better-sounding sets out there for the money, but it's pictures that really count – and this Sony heads the pack