When it comes to picture adjustments, the most interesting discoveries are black level correction, MPEG noise reduction for smoothing out digital broadcasts, a Live Colour system intended to boost colour saturations, plus gamma and peak white tweaks.
If we’re honest, we haven’t been particularly blown away by Sony’s recent LCD output. They’ve been good, sure, but certainly not spectacular. So it’s a big relief to find the 32S2010 managing a quantum leap forward over anything Sony has achieved before.
Improvement one comes with colours, which now largely avoid any of the curious toning issues seen on previous Sony sets in favour of a palette that’s as natural and wide-ranging as it is vibrant and rich.
Black levels are much better too. So where previous Sony sets have tended to force you to watch dark scenes through a layer of greyness, the 32S2010 delivers blacks that actually look black. This immediately gives the picture much more punch and scale – especially as the black areas also contain noticeably more subtle shadow detail information.
Hats off, too, to the 32S2010’s sharpness. With HD it’s a revelation, as the Bravia Engine does a terrific job of transferring all the lovely fine detail information and clarity of both 720p and 1080i HD feeds onto its screen. In fact, we’ve never seen graphically detailed games like Fight Night 3 on our resident Xbox 360 look better.
A tough, motion-packed HD combination of the England vs Sri Lanka test match on Sky HD and Burnout Revenge on our Xbox 360 reveals the set to have unusually good motion handling properties for an LCD TV too.
Yet more good news comes with the 32S2010’s adaptability, as it proves capable of handling standard definition without anything like such a significant drop-off in quality as we find with many LCD rivals. And SPVA works a treat, making the TV genuinely watchable from a much wider angle than was previously possible.
The 32S2010 does have a couple of niggles. First, black levels could still be improved further in terms of both depth and subtlety. And second, the set occasionally emphasises noise inherent to weaker digital broadcasts.
While we’re moaning, we’d also have appreciated a bit more bass in the set’s audio performance. But as with the pictures, this one audio flaw is pretty easy to forgive considering how many audio things it gets right, such as unusually clear vocals, an open mid range, sweet trebles, and a generally punchy presentation that’s free of harshness or distortion.
Sony has finally delivered an LCD TV that lives up to the reputation of what recent polls suggest is still the world’s most trusted brand…