Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Sony 32CX523

Summary

Our Score

9/10

User Score

Pros

  • Great value
  • Excellent online services
  • Good pictures for the money

Cons

  • Uninspiring build quality
  • A little motion blur
  • Not particularly easy to use

Review Price £349.95

Key Features: 32in TV with CCFL LCD backlight; Bravia Internet Video functionality; Freeview HD tuner; DLNA PC compatibility; Multimedia playback from USB

Manufacturer: Sony

A bizarre situation seems to have developed in the TV world whereby if a screen doesn’t have some sort of LED-based lighting, it’s somehow considered old-fashioned and boring.

So far as we’re concerned, though, this view doesn’t make any sense at all. Yes, sure, edge LED lighting can shave a few centimetres off a TV’s depth. And yes, the rear of the non-LED, CCFL-lit Sony KDL-32EX523 we’re looking at today sticks out much further on its rear than the vast majority of 32in TVs these days. But does this really matter given that most of us actually look at the front of our TVs rather than the back?

It also seems plausible, we guess, to suggest that having a variety of light sources illuminating a picture, as in edge LED’s case, rather than just one seen in CCFL backlighting could open the door to both greater brightness and better contrast, due to the former system’s potential for light level localisation. However, while many edge LED TVs are indeed very bright, this brightness more often than not causes some significant issues so far as contrast and backlight consistency are concerned. Evidence so far suggests that it’s easier to diffuse a centrally mounted single CCFL backlight evenly across a screen than trying to diffuse evenly a series of different lights positioned around the edge of the screen.
Sony 32CX523
It’s also the case that CCFL LCD TVs seem are increasingly being positioned as the ‘budget’ options in TV brands’ ranges. So despite potentially at least matching edge LED TVs in performance terms, CCFL TVs can be significantly cheaper.

The 32CX523, for instance, can be yours for under £350 - a price which would look attractive even if it was only attached to a ‘b-list’ branded product, never mind a TV from a brand as long-standing and still widely trusted (cue a volley of comments stating the opposite!) as Sony.

What’s more, it quickly becomes apparent that aside from the CCFL lighting, there’s actually not much about the 32CX523 that marks it out as an obviously cheap TV.

For a start, it has a Freeview HD tuner built in. But even more surprising at £350 is the discovery that the 32CX523’s LAN port - which is obligatory on any Freeview HD TV - also serves as a portal to both content stored on a DLNA-enabled PC and Sony’s Bravia Internet Video (BIV) online platform.

These are both superb finds for the 32CX523’s money, with the DLNA support extending to video as well as music and photo file formats (excluding MKV packages), and the BIV stuff turning out to be a fully-fledged version of the platform. No features have been stripped out, as you find with Samsung’s cheaper Smart TVs.

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