First impressions of the 37EX403’s pictures, though, are rather mixed. For instance, while the set is certainly capable of producing enjoyable levels of detail and crispness from HD sources, especially Blu-rays, this sharpness reduces during action scenes on account of clear signs of the motion blur we’d worried about in the previous paragraph.
To be clear, this blur isn’t really excessive; there are certainly other budget sets out there that suffer from it more. But we’ve seen better, and when it’s at its worst (particularly for the first few minutes after you turn the TV on from cold), it can certainly be distracting.
A couple of other disappointments find the 37EX403 losing contrast and colour saturation very obviously if you have to watch it from any real angle, expanses of colour occasionally looking rather over-smooth and short of subtlety, and peak whites occasionally looking bleached. These latter two issues are as a result, we would guess, of the 37EX403 not being able to reproduce as wide a range of colours as some rival screens, and some crushing at the brightest end of the spectrum.
The 37EX403 performs decently at the dark end of the spectrum too, producing a deeper and more convincing black colour than many of its budget CCFL LCD peers. It’s certainly not perfect; there’s a gentle grey wash over dark scenes, and shadow detailing is sometimes in short supply. But dark scenes don’t highlight significant backlight inconsistencies and are always watchable and credible. And that’s an achievement in itself on a sub-£500 LCD TV, despite the fact that Samsung’s similarly specified LCD sets get a few notches deeper still with their black levels.
The 37EX403’s sound rates – like its pictures, overall – as above average without being exciting. There’s just enough bass around to stop action scenes sounding unbalanced, and just enough headroom in the general mid-range and power handling to stop movies sounding too compressed and thin. Though the fact that the 37EX403’s audio performance can be classed as above average frankly says less about its own talents than it does about the generally dire state of audio on slim TVs.
There’s nothing particularly special about the 37EX403’s performance. Once it’s warmed up it’s above average, maybe even nudging good in places. But what makes it a potentially successful TV is its combination of a very aggressive price for a Sony compared with some class-leading multimedia features, particularly where online functionality is concerned. Assuming multimedia and online features don’t leave you cold, of course!