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Even by the standards of your average 52in TV, Sony's KDL-52EX1 looks enormous. For as well as the acres of screen, the TV sports a dramatically white gloss bezel that stretches out well over two inches from each of the screen's sides. What's more, the impact of this chunky white bezel is exaggerated by the application of a further centimetre or so of eye-catchingly contrasting black outer frame.
Regular readers might recognise this distinctive black and white finish from the recent review of Sony's KDL-32E5500. But for some reason, while I found the bold design very likeable on the 32in 32E5500, it left me feeling just a little cold when stretched to the enormous extremes witnessed with the 52EX1. It somehow crosses that thin line between attractively eye-catching and overly in your face. That said, there will doubtless be some people who love it to bits.
One thing the 52EX1's extravagant looks certainly do succeed in, though, is giving you the impression of luxury. And this impression is quickly enhanced by both the set's wallet-thumping £2,595 price, and the presence alongside the screen of an external wireless tuner/connections box, finished in a similarly opulent gloss white.
In case you missed it, I said back there that the external tuner box was wireless. For the 52EX1 is the first Sony TV we've seen since its all-singing, all-dancing KDL-40ZX1 to sport wireless HD video transfer between the media box and the screen - clearly a very handy trick indeed for anyone seeking to give the 52EX1 the wall-hung space its photo-frame design probably warrants.
What's more, unlike Panasonic's wireless HD transmission system, witnessed recently on that brand's P46Z1 TV, Sony's wireless engine is all ‘built in', with no need for an external transmission box on top of the tuner box, or an external receiver device hanging from the TV's bottom edge.
Sadly, though, there's also a catch. For as with the KDL-40ZX1, the 52EX1's wireless system can only handle 1080i HD; there's no support for the 1080p format so beloved of Blu-ray fans.
Connections on the 52EX1's media box include a respectable though unspectacular three HDMIs (with another one on the screen that can, crucially, take 1080p/24), a D-Sub PC port, a digital audio output, and a USB 2.0 port via which you can play a variety of multimedia sources.
Of these, I'd argue that simple JPEG stills are the most important files so far as the 52EX1 is concerned. For the set's unusual design, low-power Picture Frame mode and PhotoTV HD engine clearly indicate that Sony wants you to use the TV as a still photo frame when you're not actually watching a programme on it. The set even carries six built-in digital images you can use to turn the TV into a work of art if you can't find any snaps of your own to do the job.
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