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Given that you can get 32in TVs - many of them, admittedly, a bit rubbish - for under £400, the £400 price tag attached to Sony's 22in KDL-22E5300 initially looks steep. But then as very quickly becomes apparent, the 22E5300 is no ordinary 22in TV.
Usually when you get down to the sub-26in level of the TV market, manufacturers tend to take a 'nuts and bolts' approach, just giving people the basics at a low price on the understanding that this, ultimately, is all the buyer of such a small TV generally wants.
But Sony has clearly had enough of this approach. For the relatively high price of the 22E5300 actually gets you a level of specification, features and even to some extent, performance that's up there with the sort of stuff normally only found at the premium end of the big-screen, home cinema market.
Check out its design, for starters. Its glossy white inner bezel with outer black 'frame' is a smaller version of the eye-catching look adopted by the Sony E5500 and EX1 premium models we've tested recently. In fact, for my money the design actually works best at this relatively small size, since it creates a more convincing 'photo frame' effect than the big models. Especially as the screen arrives tilted slightly back on a pair of low-set silver feet, and so resembles a normal photo frame tilted back on a rear support leg.
The next sign that the 22E5300 goes an extra mile or two beyond the 22in TV norm comes from its connections. There are a whopping four HDMIs, for instance. Then there's a USB port able to play MP3 audio, JPEG photos and MPEG-1 video files. There's a PC jack. And perhaps most unexpectedly of all, there's an Ethernet port able to do two things: stream content from a DLNA-certified PC, or connect to the Internet. Finding either of these latter features on such a small TV would be pretty unexpected. Finding both is nothing short of remarkable.
The only thing tempering our excitement about the 22E5300's expansive multimedia capabilities is the fact that the 'Internet' connection mentioned a moment ago doesn't actually connect you to the World Wide Web as a whole. Rather it hooks you up with AppliCast; Sony's specially formatted, ring-fenced area of the Internet. And as we've noted in previous reviews, the amount of content found here really isn't as extensive as we'd like it to be, comprising just a few downloadable stills, and widgets offering a clock, calendar, calculator, and an alarm (handy, we guess, if the TV's to go into a bedroom).
This is all far removed from the full Internet access now offered by some Philips TVs, and the YouTube support - among other things - offered by Samsung and Panasonic. Still, we guess any Internet connectivity on a 22in TV is startling enough, and there's always the potential for Sony to add further services in the future.
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