Sony definitely seems to be savvier than most at figuring out what multimedia features are really useful on a TV. With its Bravia Internet Video service, for instance, Sony has twigged that what most people really want from an online TV service is streamed video and audio, not loads of half-baked games and infotainment widgets.
And recently Sony has also also realised relatively quickly that many modern households really want a second-room TV to be able to access their own or Internet-sourced multimedia content easily.
The 26in KDL-26EX320 delivers on both these fronts, boasting a full iteration of Sony’s Bravia Internet Video service as well as built-in Wi-Fi and full DLNA PC compatibility. What’s more, it does so for under £300, a potentially seriously attractive price when you consider that the Panasonic L24E3B we tested recently - which offered no online features at all and is 2in smaller - costs more.
To underline its value proposition, the 26EX320 also joins the Panasonic L24E3B in using edge LED lighting to illuminate its screen rather than the ‘basic’ CCFL engine we might have expected.
However, surprise surprise, the 26EX320’s focus on multimedia has led to compromises in other areas of its specification. First and most surprisingly, the screen is only ‘HD Ready’ rather than full HD, meaning it’s got a native pixel count of 1,366x768 rather than 1,920x1,080. So most HD material you watch on it will have to be downscaled to the screen’s resolution.
The other major compromise finds the 26EX320 not sporting a Freeview HD tuner. Instead you just get a standard definition one. This is perhaps more understandable than the screen not having a full HD resolution given the context of the TV’s low price. But it might still upset a few ‘enthusiast’ punters, and it would to our minds certainly preclude the 26EX320 from being a main living room TV.
It’s worth adding that the 26EX320 only has a standard 50Hz refresh rate; there’s no 100Hz or higher engine to potentially reduce motion blur and judder.
This is not to say that the TV is a total video processing wash out, though. For it benefits from Sony’s new X-Reality system, which adds enhanced noise reduction and colour processing benefits over and above the previous Bravia Engine system. Please note, though, that the 26EX320 gets the standard X-Reality system, not the X-Reality Pro system with its advanced processing for ‘souping up’ video streamed from the Internet.
Delving still deeper into the 26EX320’s feature list, the TV can play back video, photo and music files from a USB storage device via its single USB slot (so you’re not ‘restricted’ to streaming files from a DLNA PC or the Internet). You can also record from the built-in tuner to a connected USB HDD - though with this in mind, it’s a pity that the set only has one USB rather than two.