Pictures also look pleasingly free of noise for such a cheap model. Dot noise is hardly present at all, in either HD or standard def mode, and MPEG noise in standard def sources can be very effectively suppressed with the provided MPEG noise reduction system without causing significant unwanted side effects.
Best of all, motion blur isn’t at all excessive for a 50Hz low-end TV. Naturally there’s a little more resolution loss as objects cross the screen than you would see with a good plasma set or an LCD TV with a faster natural refresh rate and/or potentially a scanning backlight. But this ‘blurring’ is not truly severe, even when watching sports. It’s actually less troubling than it was on the recently reviewed – and edge-lit – Sony 37EX524. This means HD pictures generally look pleasingly sharp and detailed for such a relatively small TV.
Also worth mentioning is how engagingly natural pictures look, arguably as a result of the very lack of heavy duty video processing we potentially raised as a weakness earlier. The only place where video processing is clearly having a (generally very positive) effect is with standard definition, which is upscaled to the panel’s full HD resolution nicely by the onboard Sony X-Reality processors, suppressing noise and adding a touch of sharpness to non-HD Freeview proceedings.
As with the recently reviewed Sony 37EX524, the 32CX523’s post-calibration pictures aren’t the most punchy or bright, and you can get more insight into both shadow details and colour tones if you spend substantially more. But otherwise, aside from the relatively minor motion blur and slightly faded green tone issues already discussed, the 32CX523 is actually an excellent performer for its money.
It’s a solid gaming option too, as it turns out, with its input lag being measured at a very respectable 34ms on average – not a high enough figure to significantly upset your gaming ‘skillz’.
It doesn’t even sound bad – which is really surprising for the budget TV market. There’s a pleasingly open and detailed tone to the set’s audio that’s capable of delivering subtleties in your average Blu-ray soundtrack that are usually lost when piped through TV speakers. It also avoids the flat feeling and overwhelmed vocals that accompany action scenes on most flat TVs.
To be clear, we’re talking relative to other affordable flat TVs here; clearly the level of audio finesse is no match for anything you might hear from even the most half-baked of external speaker systems. But in the small, flat TV world, anything that sounds better than utterly rubbish has to count as a decent success.
The 32CX523 might lack the ‘sexiness’ in design and technology terms of an edge LED TV, but its CCFL LCD engine and excellent online features still make it a superbly good value second or even main room TV.
Score in detail
Image Quality 8
Sound Quality 8
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