Thursday

Sony KDL-32BX330 review


There’s nothing comparable watching movies in a cinema. The picture is lush and full of detail. The sound reverberates across the four walls of the theater. With the arrival of the Sony BRAVIA KDL32BX330 HDTV, you can now enjoy this cinematic experience in your home.

Watch your favorite movies and TV shows in a high-definition format. Sony has invested good picture and sound qualities in this TV model. So expect an optimum viewing experience in the Sony BRAVIA KDL32BX330 wherever you are in your house. Be it in your bedroom, the living room or just any corner in your humble abode.


Features and design


 

At this price point, we don’t expect much in the way of bells and whistles and the Sony BX330 doesn’t offer any surprises. This is your basic, bread-and-butter 720p HDTV with two HDMI inputs, a PC input, USB input, component video input, analog audio input and analog and digital (optical) audio output.

The TV’s design is pretty much on par with most others in its class. The bezel and stand are made of glossy black plastic. The bezel measures 1.25 inches along the top and sides and a thicker 2.25-inches along the bottom, where a set of touch capacitive buttons allows full control of the TV.

The back of the TV has us a bit puzzled. The BX330 measures just over 1.75-inches thick until you come to the bottom 7-inches of the cabinet where a plastic protrusion boosts the set’s thickness to a bulky 3.25-inches. We can’t figure a reason for this protrusion. It doesn’t appear to hide any circuitry –just the set’s connection bay which, even if necessary, hardly explains why the bolted-on plastic piece is so deep and runs across the entire width of the TV. It’s hard to see this set looking low-profile when mounted on the wall. Then again, competing sets from Toshiba, Vizio, and Samsung all have a total thickness similar to that of the Sony and feature similar cabinet protrusions. The one exception to the 3-plus-inch rule is LG, whose 32-inch model comes in at 2.9-inches. The lesson here is that basic LCD TV’s aren’t slim the way LED backlit TVs are, so expect a thicker cabinet from an entry-level TV.

The remote is pleasantly simple. It won’t learn remote codes or control any other devices (not even Sony Blu-ray players) but it does have large, easy-to-access buttons with all of the basic functions covered and a standard cursor pad for navigating menu screens.
Connectivity

 The four HD inputs Sony cites are two HDMI, a component port, and a PC input. If you're looking for a large TV that doubles as a monitor then the Sony could be your best bet; be aware that the resolution tops out at the native resolution of 1,366x768 pixels.

Picture quality

For a long time, the TCL L40FHDF12TA was the most popular TV on Amazon, and while it wasn't much in the picture department, it was cheap. You want to know what? The Sony is both cheaper and it performs better. It's also smaller, and feel free to disagree with me but personally I'd rather watch a small TV with a good picture than a large TV with a bad one.

The Sony boasts acceptable black levels and passable, if not entirely accurate color. But its shadow detail and off-axis viewing are where the Sony shows its stripes.
Click the image at the right to see the picture settings used in the review and to read more about how this TV's picture controls worked during calibration.
Setup

 

Attaching the Sony BX330’s stand is a four-screw proposition that took us about 60 seconds to accomplish. Once attached, we found that the super-light plastic stand served its function well by keeping the set sturdy. Though the stand might feel cheap, it’s surprisingly resilient and not likely to break without subjecting it to serious abuse.

Straight out of the box, the BX330 needs some serious adjustments to nearly all available settings in order to wrangle its picture out of what we have to say is one of the brightest, loudest picture presets we’ve ever seen. The “standard” preset is unnervingly bright in its own right and could easily compete in a bright, big-box store display environment. But the “vivid” setting is really something to behold; dare we say eye-blistering. We suggest staying far, far away from the vivid setting as it will no doubt considerably shorten the life of the TV’s compact fluorescent backlight. Speaking of the backlight, we were surprised to see this TV didn’t offer separate backlight control in addition to brightness and contrast settings.

After some time spent with a calibration disc, we were able to get most of the BX330’s settings optimized; however, we never did get the color and hue settings dialed in just right. No matter what we did, the color yellow looked pale and mustardy to the naked eye and, when using a blue filter with certain color-test patterns, we noticed we couldn’t get the set to completely conform to the test’s parameters. While this might seem like a particularly bad thing, it is actually the norm with entry level TV’s, so we weren’t totally surprised. If you’d like to see the settings we arrived at with this set, we have them published at the end of this review.
Performance

As is the case with most entry level TVs, it is wise to temper your performance expectations a bit. A TV at this tier is not going to produce the deepest black levels, some backlight bleeding is to be expected and some motion judder is probably going to show itself to some degree. Even so, one can expect to see some performance variations across various brands of the same level. To be sure, the 32BX330 holds its own against the competition.

While this TV doesn’t have the premium feel of Sony’s more expensive TV models, it certainly has Sony’s uniquely appealing picture quality. There are a couple of issues worth mentioning, though: The contrast on this set seems a little forced to us. Bright whites are especially bright and have a way of washing out details. Also, colors were a bit intense for our liking at times. Shades of red tended toward the hot side and came across with a slight orange tinge. Shades of blue and green, however, were especially luminous and appealing. All told, the set’s picture is enjoyable on the whole.

We should note that, during dark screens, you can clearly see the backlight turning what ought to be black a dark shade of gray but, again, this is typical of less expensive LCD sets and is to be expected. This isn’t something the average viewer is likely to notice 97 percent of the time because of other things happening on the screen. When we watched a NASA documentary, for instance, we enjoyed the stark contrast of the set and didn’t pay the black levels a ton of attention until a few starry night sky scenes made the lack of inky blacks more obvious. Again, this is to be expected of a TV of this sort.

With a cabinet of this size, though, we expect more out of the TV’s speakers. Granted, LED TV’s and their almost non-existent bezels have somehow excused themselves from the need to offer decent sound (yay for the makers of sound bars!) However, we believe a TV with a cabinet this large has enough room for speakers and an amp that can offer decent sound. Instead, we found a considerable lack of low end — enough to make the TV sound pretty thin. We did find an equalizer in the audio portion of the setup menu which gave us hope that we could coax some better sound out of the TV, but the improvements were marginal at best.

Key TV features
Display technologyLCDLED backlightEdge-lit
Screen finishMatteRemoteStandard
Smart TVNoInternet connectionNo
3D technologyNo3D glasses includedNo
Refresh rate(s)48HzDejudder (smooth) processingNo
DLNA-compliantNoUSBPhoto/Music/Video
Other: 1,366x768-pixel resolution (1080p compatible)

 720 HD
This Bravia HDTV has a width of 30 ½ inches. This measurement accommodates well of its 32-inch screenwhen measured diagonally. The height and depth are at 20.8 inches and 3.2 inches respectively. Weight is at 18 lbs. So this model is not too heavy. Together with its smaller size, you can carry this set and place it anywhere in your house.

Sony has been known for decades in producing top-of-the-line television sets. The Sony BRAVIA KDL40BX450 has received good reviews among professional critics and users alike. Though Sony was supplanted by Samsung as the world’s top manufacturer of television sets, the Japanese company still managed to produce more good quality and reliable models in the market. The Sony BRAVIA KDL32BX330 has a clear 720p image resolution on screen. Some users have commented on this picture quality when they connect a COAX cable. The image is not too sharp, almost balanced in terms of contrast quality. Others used an HDMI connector and the picture quality increased two-fold or three-fold.

Next to the user’s TV rating is the sound. Images are everything in the Silent Era of Televisions. But when someone invented an audio feature on TVs, sound quality matters second in importance to most viewers afterwards. So far, the Sony BRAVIA KDL32BX330 was received well by many. Some find the audio capability of this model bad for their ears. However, built-in speakers of HDTVs are usually weak. When supported by sound-enhancement technologies, the audio quality gets slightly better. Wiser buyers purchase a separate, powerful speaker system to amplify their TV’s audio. The result is an almost cinematic rendering of treble and bass volumes echoing across their room.

There is now a Sony HT-CT150 3D Sound Bar System that enhances the sound quality of supported HDTVs available in the market — both online and real time.
Sony BRAVIA KDL32BX330 Specs
Four HDMI inputs for your Blu-Ray Player, PC, Playstation 3, HD component cable, etc.
A USB input to allow to play any USB-enabled device
Has a noise-reducing technology that also “cleans up” grainy images when viewing photos or movies in your USB device
A CCFL backlight technology that balances pixels showing on its LCD screen
Instant HD Connection

Probably, part of the KDL32BX330’s near superior picture quality is its connection inputs/outputs. This Sony model has all the regular component and composite video plug-ins that a modern HDTV has. But the Sony BRAVIA KDL32BX330 has two HDMI connections at its rear. We all know how effective HDMI technology is in rendering pictures and sounds on TV screens. This Bravia model has managed to materialize contents from separate devices on its LCD screen very well.

USB devices are very popular nowadays because of their small size and portability. When you have a USB that can store 32 GB of data, you are able to download movies and watch them on PCs. The BRAVIA KDL32BX330 has a single USB port located at its side. Plugging your USB device is very easy and the download is not too slow. Unlike PCs, you can watch movies, view photos and listen to MP3 music on the 32-inch screen of this Bravia model.
Interactive Entertainment

We all love movies. Be it in DVD or in Blu-Ray format. Part of the appeal of movies showing in our own homes is the development of the Home Theater System. The Home Theater System aims to replicate the cinematic experience within the four walls of your room. Now, it is competing for cinema theaters in showing 3D movies. The KDL32BX330 doesn’t have the 3D features that its higher tier Bravia siblings include. But again, many people today are not too demanding for a 3D experience. Moviegoers are more concerned in the plot, acting and special effects in films. The KDL32BX330 delivers a consistent picture quality that is acceptable to the majority.

This is also true for gamers. Most video console users have little problem with the picture quality of the KDL32BX330. A 720p resolution is considered good among video game players. Actually, it seems that a huge number of gamers tend to settle for a smaller size; moderately high-quality HDTVs. This Bravia model seems to fit in this category. In this troubled economy, such purchase makes sense.

The BRAVIA KDL32BX330 also does well with PCs. As there are people connecting their computers to HDTVs because of the latter’s’ bigger screen and higher picture quality, it is natural that Sony designs its Bravia TVs to accommodate this need.

Conclusion
While the 32BX330 won’t be wowing any videophiles, it is a solid performer with Sony’s signature picture quality. This TV stands shoulder to shoulder with competing sets from Toshiba, LG, Samsung and Vizio and well above sets from the likes of Sceptre, Proscan, RCA and Element.

The only trouble is that along with the Sony name comes the Sony price, which averages about $50 more than other big name brands and sometimes as much as $120 more than smaller name brands like Sceptre and Element. Also, considering Vizio offers a 32-incher with Internet connectivity and apps included at this price point, it becomes easy to expect more from a 32-inch TV that reaches above the $300 price point. It all comes down to individual priorities, but if you love that signature Sony picture, the 32BX330 will deliver it