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Happily the 20S2020 also has the colour capability to do justice to the extra vibrancy of the HD feed. Vibrant hues look extremely rich and bright, without being sullied by dot or edge noise, while subtler hues, including skin tones, all look impressively natural. There’s a pleasing degree of subtlety in the presentation of colour blends too.
Next to impress is the TV’s black level. We usually find small LCD TVs distinctly lacking in this department, greying over dark picture areas and making dark scenes look flat. But with the 20S2020, black parts of the picture are generally free of greyness, and even manage a fair degree of the sort of subtle shadow detailing that gives dark scenes depth.
That good claimed response time of 8ms also seems to pay dividends in the way motion-packed scenes are only slightly afflicted by LCD’s tendency to smear motion. This means that even a full-tilt Locust in Gears of War on the Xbox 360 retains the bulk of its definition.
Elsewhere we find edges looking sharp and free of jaggedness, and impressively little video noise. Even the MPEG decoder noise so common on digital tuner broadcasts seems well handled, leaving us with really no serious complaints about the 20S2020’s pictures at all.
The 20S2020 also delivers a sound performance that wouldn’t seem out of place on a much larger TV. BBE’s new VIVA system is particularly good, helping the TV’s speakers produce a soundstage packed with subtle treble details; surprisingly rich in bass; able to open up to meet an action sequence; and able to go good and loud without distorting.
There’s no doubt that upwards of £450 is a fairly steep price to pay for a 20in LCD TV when you can get one or two 26in models for around the same money these days. But whereas those cheapo 26in models tend to sacrifice performance quality for price, Sony has defiantly chosen to go for broke in performance terms, producing in the process quite possibly the finest 20in LCD picture performance yet. Which all boils down to yet more AV proof of the age-old maxim that if you want the best, you usually have to pay for it.