Getting Sony to send us TVs to review these days is like pulling hen's teeth. So you can imagine our surprise when finally we opened the door to a courier last week to find him looking seriously cheesed off to be carrying not just any Sony TV, but a 52in model.
Closer investigation revealed this to be the KDL-52W4500, a new set from around the middle of Sony's range. Which is to say it doesn't use LED backlight technology or 200Hz processing, but does feature Sony's latest Bravia Engine 2 image processing system together with the brand's proprietary Motionflow 100Hz system.
It also looks stylish, thanks to the return of an old Sony design favourite, a see-through ‘window' running right through the TV's bodywork under the screen. Aside from this the bezel isn't particularly striking, I guess, with its typical gloss black colour scheme and none of the slenderness that's starting to creep into a growing number of flat TV designs. But it does at least feel very well built, and the way the Sony logo lights up from behind is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
The 52W4500's connections kick off with a slight disappointment: the presence of three HDMIs when we might have hoped for four. But these HDMIs are at least built to the latest v1.3 standard, and are supported by a plethora of rather handy multimedia goodies that include a USB 2.0 input, a DLNA Ethernet port, and a Digital Media Port.
Looking at these three multimedia jacks in turn, the USB can handle JPEGs and MP3 audio files from USB storage devices (including USB camcorders and digital cameras). The Ethernet port enables you to jack the TV into your PC network for playback of JPG and MP3 files stored on a computer. And the Digital Media Port enables you to play back audio or video files from a connected portable media player via a suitable adaptor (no adaptors are included as standard, in case you were wondering).
Arriving as it does immediately after Samsung's 50PSA756, it's a pity the 52W4500 doesn't support wireless connection with your PCs. But then at least you don't have to worry about trying to get any wireless connections to actually work!
The 52W4500 is similar to the 50PSA756 in another way, though, namely its provision of a selection of built-in paintings and photographs so that you can use the TV as an electronic ‘picture frame' when you're not watching it.
There are only nine preloaded images - considerably less than you get with the Samsung. But they're nicely varied content-wise, and you get more flexibility about how they're presented, with zooming and cropping options, adjustable slideshow speed, adjustable slideshow image transition effects, and finally the option to have music play while the slideshow takes place.
The 52W4500 is arguably better placed to work as a ‘picture frame' than the Samsung, too, on account of its use of LCD rather than plasma technology. After all, LCD doesn't suffer from any significant screen burn issues.