The design isn’t particularly special, in my opinion. Like the V5500 model, you’re really just talking about a glossy piano black bezel, with a little dash of style being added by a shiny strip of plastic separating the bezel from an angled-up speaker strip along the bottom edge. To be fair to Sony, though, the W5500 is, at least, very robustly built.
It’s also excellently connected. There are four HDMIs, for a start. But where the set really excels is with its multimedia support, as a D-Sub PC port is joined by a USB port capable of playing music, JPEG and video files from USB storage devices; and an Ethernet port via which you can access files stored on your PC.
What’s more, as with the 40V5500, this Ethernet port can also give you Internet access – or rather, access to Sony’s ring-fenced online experience. As noted in the V5500 review, this so-called AppliCast system is currently rather limited, comprising just a small selection of material – a few photos, access to RSS news feeds, a World Clock and an onscreen calculator – set up by Sony’s own ‘widget’-style system. There’s no third party content on the scale of the YouTube, Yahoo, Flickr or Picasa support found on various other online TV systems right now.
The upside to the strictly controlled content of the AppliCast experience is that it helps make the system easy to use, easy on the eye, and fast and fluid in operation.
The main feature difference between the W5500 range and the V5500 range is the introduction on the W5500s of a 100Hz engine. This joins forces with Sony’s MotionFlow frame interpolation system to counter LCD’s usual problems with retaining resolution and avoiding judder when showing moving objects.
Other notable picture tricks include Sony’s 24p True Cinema mode for enhanced Blu-ray playback; Sony’s Live Colour engine designed to deliver – and I quote – ‘optimal colour purity’; the same Bravia Engine 3 video processing system that so impressed us on the 40V5500; and a variety of ‘Eco’ features, such as the increasingly common light sensor feature (which adjusts the picture in relation to the light levels in your room), and an ‘off’ timer that kicks in if the TV is left idle for a predetermined length of time. The Eco features, incidentally, are all placed under a specific Eco menu header within Sony’s mostly good double-axis onscreen menu system.