Further good news concerns the 37V4000’s colours, as believable skin tones rub shoulders with rich, dynamic greens, reds and blues without anything looking plasticky or forced.
It’s true to say that more expensive Sony sets deliver a slightly more expansive colour range than the 37V4000. But compared more fairly with other £500 or so 37in LCD TVs, this Sony’s colours are nothing short of excellent. What’s more, this colour refinement even extends into dark scenes, as a very impressive black level response enables the screen to portray dark hues with an authority that’s rare indeed at the entry-level end of the market.
Again I should stress that the 37V4000’s black levels aren’t as deep or greyness-free as those of Sony’s premium Z4500 models; there’s certainly a little less shadow detail on show, for instance. But the difference is far less pronounced than you’d expect given the vast gulf between the prices of the V4000 and Z4500 ranges.
It’s well worth stating, too, that thankfully our 37V4000 review sample didn’t suffer at all with the nasty backlight pooling problem witnessed on not one but two different members of Sony’s W4500 series.
The only real issue I have with the 37V4000’s pictures, given how little it costs, is a slight tendency to exaggerate MPEG block noise in poor-quality standard definition digital broadcasts. You can limit this via the TV’s noise reduction option, and by making sure the backlight is set no higher than six while the contrast is no higher than 80. But it’s certainly not something you can ever completely escape.
Enabling me to finish the review on a high note, though, is the 37V4000’s audio. This sounds nearly as powerful, dynamic, open, and clean as that produced by the Z4500 range, and has comfortably enough breathing room to expand to meet the challenge of a decent action movie. In other words, it beats the puny, bass-free, thin-as-paper soundstages produced by most budget TVs to a broken and bloodied pulp.
Sony has done its level best to impress us lately with groundbreaking features, fancy operating systems, arch designs and madcap marketing campaigns. Yet the first of Sony’s current TVs to unequivocally make our day turns out to be an entry-level model deemed so ‘cheap and cheerful’ that Sony seems almost embarrassed to be selling it. Now if that’s not the very definition of AV irony, I don’t know what is.