Casting an eye down the 37V4000’s remaining specifications reveals some good news and some bad news. The good news is a claimed contrast ratio of 22,000:1 that looks pretty high for such an affordable TV. The bad news is a non-Full HD native resolution of 1,366 x 768, and an apparent lack of support for the ‘pure’ 1080p/24 feeds now delivered by pretty much any Blu-ray player you care to mention.
A quick double check of this with my resident Blu-ray player – itself a Sony model – proves that the 37V4000 will indeed not handle 1080p/24 material. Instead, when the Blu-ray player’s output is set to ‘automatic’, the handshake between the TV and the Blu-ray player results in a 1080i/60 playback mode being selected.
The combination of the mere HD Ready resolution and lack of 1080p/24 support will doubtless alarm many AV enthusiasts. But even though I count myself as just such an enthusiast, I’d say that neither issue need be the end of the world provided the TV’s ‘engine’ does a good enough job of both handling motion and downscaling the UK’s predominantly 1,920 x 1,080 HD sources to the 1,366 x 768 pixel count.
So let’s start our tests by looking specifically at these two issues. When it comes to the downscaling, the news is very good. For the 37V4000 manages to ‘resize’ Full HD Blu-rays and broadcasts remarkably well for such an affordable set, delivering bags of fine detail and sharpness, without seemingly any of the common colour noise or general image softness side effects associated with the downscaling process.
Obviously a really good Full HD set can deliver HD images with even more delicious detailing and a little more subtlety when it comes to fine colour gradations than the 37V4000. But that doesn’t alter the fact that, to put it as inelegantly as possible, the 37V4000’s HD pictures not only look HD, but impressively HD. Indeed, I’ve seen many full HD TVs reproduce HD material less effectively than this Sony.
Actually, the surprising sharpness of the 37V4000’s HD images offers up a clue to its motion handling performance, too. For I’m mightily relieved to say that there’s far less trouble with LCD’s traditional blurring and smearing issues than I’d expected. In fact, I was scarcely troubled by blurring at all during HD viewing, and seldom felt truly distracted by it with standard def either – even after watching all sorts of tough-to-handle footie and cricket coverage.
As is quite often the case where a relatively low-spec TV avoids motion blur, there does seem a price to pay in the form of some gentle judder, especially with movie sources. But the key word here is ‘gentle’; even the most action-packed of Blu-rays still plays through onto the screen with in emphatically watchable fashion. In fact, I would even anticipate that some people will find the Sony’s marginal judder to look more natural than the ‘liquid smoothness’ delivered by some high-spec rival TVs.