This means the 32CX523’s online features include Facebook, Twitter, Skype (via an added camera/mic accessory), as well as the reams of video content that has become BIV’s trademark. Including such key services as the BBC iPlayer, the Demand 5 Channel 5 catch up service, a Sky News headlines feed, LoveFilm, and Sony’s own Qriocity movie subscription platform and archive of free classic Sony TV series, BIV is the online service that to us seems to deliver the most satisfying roster of content for a typical family TV.
We’re not done with the 32CX523’s multimedia talents yet, though. For the set also sports a duo of USB ports, able to play the same sort of file formats handled by the LAN port. Even more remarkably, the USBs can be used to record programmes from the Freeview HD tuner to USB HDDs, as well as making the TV Wi-Fi ready if you add an optional USB dongle.
Other connections of the 32CX523 include four HDMIs and a D-Sub PC port, meaning its connections really are simply beyond reproach for a £350 TV. Impressive stuff.
Given how extensive the 32CX523’s multimedia talents are, though, it’s not particularly surprising to find that its picture technologies are rather thinner on the ground. It still manages a full HD resolution, but its refresh rate is limited to 50Hz, and there’s nothing obvious going on in terms of advanced motion processing.
You do, however, get three different noise reduction processors, plus there’s an ‘Advanced’ picture submenu, which contains such fine-tuning tools as a multi-level black level booster, various settings for the TV’s dynamic contrast facilities, gamma adjustments, access to Sony’s Live Colour processing system, and the ability to adjust the gain and bias of the red, green and blue colour elements as part of a white balance adjustment.
All in, aside from looking a bit of a plain jane thanks to its rather plasticky and unusually broad bezel, there’s precious little about the 32CX523’s specifications that shouts ‘budget TV’. And for the most part, this is pleasingly true of the 32CX523’s picture quality too.
For instance, it struck us right away that the 32CX523’s black level response is much better than that of the vast majority of small, cheap LCD TVs. Dark scenes don’t suffer with the usual overt grey ‘veil’ hanging over them, and even better, unlike its bigger 40in brother, the Sony 40CX523, black level depth looks almost the same all across the screen, even right into the corners. This makes for a really great start to the 32CX523’s picture campaign.
As is often the case where a set has a good black level response, the 32CX523 also serves up a likable palette of colours. Tones pretty much across the board – with the slight exception of some slightly pallid greens – look credible and engaging, with decent vibrancy levels and respectable if not exactly stellar levels of blend subtlety.