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Sony Bravia KDL-37EX503 37in LCD TV review

John Archer

By

Reviewed:

1 of 5

Sony Bravia KDL-37EX503 37in LCD TV
  • Sony Bravia KDL-37EX503 37in LCD TV
  • Sony Bravia KDL-37EX503 37in LCD TV
  • Sony Bravia KDL-37EX503 37in LCD TV
  • Sony Bravia KDL-37EX503 37in LCD TV
  • Bravia KDL37EX503U 37" LCD TV (1920x1080, 100Hz, HDTV)

Summary

Our Score:

8

User Score:

Pros

  • Good at upscaling to HD
  • Sharp HD pictures
  • Good Freeview HD tuner handling

Cons

  • Poor black level response
  • Lacks bass
  • Little motion blur

Key Features

  • Four HDMIs
  • USB 2.0 port
  • Optional Wi-Fi USB dongle
  • 37in screen
  • 11.8kg
  • Manufacturer: Sony
  • Review Price: £629.50

Having only recently reviewed Sony’s rather excellent KDL-40EX503, you’re probably wondering why I’m looking so soon at the 37in version of the same TV.

In fact, I often get asked as a matter of course if there’s really much point reviewing different sizes of the same series of TV. After all, the thinking goes, in the vast majority of cases the features employed by different sizes of TV across a single series will be the same - including the technologies employed to deliver picture quality. So surely the differences in performance between alternate sizes in a series just can’t be enough to justify multiple reviews?

If only it were that simple. In fact from my experience, where LCD TVs are concerned, the truth is rather different. I have at times noted really quite considerable differences in the performance standards of different sizes within a single series. And actually, if you think about it, this isn’t really all that unexpected, given how many manufacturers source different sizes of screen from different places.

As a classic example of what I mean, I’ve traditionally found it difficult to get Samsung to send me any 37in LCD TVs to review, with the quietly muttered excuse appearing to be that Samsung hasn’t traditionally manufactured all of its 37in screens themselves, instead 'buying in' 37in panels from elsewhere and then working into them their own electronics.

Clearly the inference from Samsung’s reluctance for me to look at the resulting TVs suggests that the brand has concerns about potential quality issues at this particular screen size. Please note, however, that I’m not suggesting for a minute here that all 37in Samsung TVs are rubbish!

The all-important issue of price also justifies dipping into different points of the same series, as I regularly find that some sizes seem to offer notably better value than others.

At this point you’re probably wondering if a) I’m ever actually going to start writing a proper review, and b) exactly why I’m raising all this debate. As in, am I building an excuse for a review that’s ultimately going to turn out to be near-identical to that of the 40EX503, or am I merely setting the scene for a review that’s going to bear out my feeling that all sizes with a series aren’t equal?

Actually, it’s the latter. For while the 37EX503 and 40EX503 certainly aren’t chalk and cheese, there’s enough difference between them to earn one model a Recommended badge while the other goes home merely with an appreciative pat on the back.

Metalex

March 31, 2010, 8:14 pm

I wonder if this TV is any good for gaming...

GoldenGuy

April 1, 2010, 2:11 am

LOL Metalex. Yeah that old chestnut. Seems my hunt for a decent Samsung telly has been completely derailed by the plethora of gaming lag complaints on forums, so I am starting to factor Sony and LG into the equation. Annoyingly though, they do seem to offer great picture quality for films, and much more attractive styling and pricing than Sony (I'm sorry, the design here is just generic-block-of-man-tech ugly!). It does seem a bit irresponsible to hand out high ratings for TVs with such a severe shortcoming for playing any kind of moderately paced FPS actioner/music game.

KiretoX

April 2, 2010, 5:37 am

Well, S-LCD (Samsung, Sony) doesn't produce 37" S-PVA screens so naturally Samsung wouldn't like to send inferior products for reviews. However as it seems both Samsung and Sony won't stop selling such TVs :) So 40" EX5 comes with S-PVA screen, 37" comes probably with A-MVA (AUO) or MVA (CPT, CMO) which offer inferior black (contrast) compared to S-PVA.

armpowered

April 2, 2010, 6:15 pm

I've had a KDL-37EX503 for just over a week and have been disappointed with the picture to such an extent that I'm pondering returning it (it also buzzes). The picture in dark areas just gets colours wrong, fading badly and losing detail. My older 32D3000 didn't have this problem. Does anyone make a decent 37 inch LCD TV (space limitations rule out 40 inch)?

ConfitDuck

April 14, 2010, 8:18 pm

Does anybody have any idea if the 32 inch model's panel takes after the 40 (good) or the 37 (not so)?

Stephen Potter

April 16, 2010, 6:04 am

The expert review about black levels may be correct but this does not alter the fact that the picture straight out of the box is extremely good. None of the problems reported by armpowered are present on my set. I have yet to fully explore all the capabilities. Standard definition (freeview) is better than the experience in the shop and better than I dared hope for in switching from CRT. 37 inch is becoming the size of choice. I did compare the 40 inch and 37 and can see no difference in the quality of picture. In John Lewis I saw them side by side. I use an amp to get the surround sound digital experience so cannot comment on the innate sound of the set which during setup was perfectly acceptable.





I will use SKY HD as my main source of HD viewing but great to have the freeview HD channels for occasions when recording two programmes at the same time. I can watch a third in HD.





I will let others comment on games experience. Not my thing. I just want to watch great TV on a great set at a reasonable price. At the time of writing the Sony37ex503 seems to tick all the boxes.

Metalex

June 4, 2010, 4:44 pm

I just read a review of the 40 inch version of this TV (KDL-40EX503) on another review site, and they measured input lag at 60ms in Game Mode. Not good at all.

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