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To say that Sony's TVs have had a chequered track record with us recently would be an understatement. They've confused us no end with a dizzying combination of extremely good bits, extremely bad bits, and both competitive and over-expensive prices.
So in true Forrest Gump fashion, as I started unpacking Sony's KDL-37V4000, I had absolutely no idea what I was going to get. But clearly I'm really hoping it's going to be Dr Jekyll Sony rather than Mr Hyde Sony.
One thing that's abundantly clear right away is that the 37V4000 is remarkably cheap for a Sony TV. In fact, its £500 price tag is pretty damn cheap by any manufacturer's standards. Indeed, the 37V4000 seems so cheap that Sony appears not to even want to admit to selling it. There's certainly no mention of the V range on Sony's UK website right now.
The 37V4000 doesn't look like something Sony needs to be ashamed off, though. For although inevitably not quite as glamorous or well-built as the Sony W4500 or Z4500 models we've looked at recently, the glossy ‘piano black' finish of its bezel and the attractive way it contrasts with the grey speaker bar along the TV's bottom edge make it an aesthetic cut above most similarly priced 37in TVs.
Connectivity is perfectly satisfactory for such a cheap telly too. Which is to say you get three HDMIs and a dedicated PC port alongside all the usual suspects bar a dedicated four-pin S-Video input and digital audio output. There's none of the extreme multimedia connectivity found on Sony's high end TVs, but that's exactly the sort of stuff we'd expect to see trimmed away by any manufacturer seeking to make a TV to a tight budget.
Of potentially more concern is the amount of image processing Sony has had to strip away in its pursuit of an aggressive price point. For the 37V4000 only uses Sony's Bravia Engine processing, not the new, improved Bravia Engine 2 system found on the W4500 and Z4500 models. Even more worryingly, it doesn't even manage to provide 100Hz processing, never mind the 200Hz sported so proudly by the Z4500 models. Given the problems experienced with motion blur on one or two previous Sony LCDs, this lack of advanced motion processing on the 37V4000 has to be a serious concern.
With relatively little video processing, it's not exactly surprising to find that the 37V4000's onscreen menus are much less extensive than those of its costlier siblings. Also, with less features to handle, the 37V4000 exhibits no sign of Sony's likeable Xcross Media Bar twin-axis GUI. But the 37V4000's more straightforward GUI still shouldn't trouble even the most technophobic of users, and the remote control is perfectly neat and tidy, if not exactly inspired in its layout.
Quickly covering the key features tucked away within these onscreen menus, there's a noise reduction system; the option to deactivate the 37V4000's dynamic contrast arrangement; a backlight adjustment; and the facility to set up Sony's Bravia Theatre Sync system - a fancy name for the quite common ability to control compatible devices connected via HDMI using just the TV remote.
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