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I guess the access to those online stills - and a few pre-installed ones - does kind of bolster the 32E5500's multimedia credentials. Especially as the set also sports Sony's Picture Frame Mode, where the TV optimises its settings for economical long-term playback of digital still photos or artworks, effectively letting you turn your TV into a painting or genuine photo frame when you're not watching it.
But all these multimedia features are, as I've said, available on the 32W5500 as well, and just putting them within a more self-consciously photo/painting-like design doesn't magically stop AppliCast feeling a little outgunned by rival online systems. You're probably starting to wonder at this point why it really matters all that much if the 32E5500 is effectively ‘just' a fancier-looking version of the 32W5500. So I'll tell you: the cheapest price I could find on the 32E5500 at the time of writing was £945. Whereas the 32W5500 was available for just £609. That's a huge difference of more than £300. Or to put it another way, the 32E5500 costs 50 per cent more than its similarly specified but less well-dressed sibling.
Unless the 32E5500 magically manages to use its identical specs to deliver a picture quality beyond what we would expect to see from the 32W5500, therefore, I'm struggling to find the fancy picture frame justification enough for spending £300 that could instead be spent on a very healthy collection of Blu-rays.
To be fair, the 32E5500 does produce some terrific pictures. Its black levels, for instance, are streets ahead of those produced by most 32in LCD TVs, leaving the claimed 80,000:1 contrast ratio looking at least a fraction less fanciful than the hilariously optimistic figures quoted by rival brands.I should add, too, that I saw scarcely the faintest trace of the inconsistent backlight level problem that blighted Sony's previous LCD generation.
The 32E5500 also excels with its colours. The Bravia Engine 3 system in conjunction with Sony's Live Colour processing works wonders when it comes to combining vivid, full-on saturations with natural, believable, and subtly blended tones - and the screen furthermore has the innate brightness to ensure that the excellent colour palette is really driven out.
For all their flaws in previous generations, Sony's LCD TVs have at least generally delivered HD pictures with excellent levels of sharpness and noise-free clarity. And that strength remains emphatically in place with the 32E5500, as a selection of Blu-rays and HD games all look full of texture and detail. So long, at least, as you ensure that all the TV's noise reduction circuitry is deactivated.
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