Along with the Samsung LE32B650, this Sony is a survivor of June 2009's 32in Supertest. Last time out, it made off with the test win with words like 'formidable' ringing in the air. Like the Samsung, it's slipped a little in the pecking order. Unlike the Samsung, it retains a vice-like grip on five stars.
The 32V5500's got plenty going on: DNLA networking, 1920 x 1080 resolution, and a fistful of digital and analogue connectivity including a USB 2.0 socket all make for good reading.
It's a tidy, smart looker with the usual Sony virtues of impeccable ergonomics – the Xrossbar on-screen menus are a step on from most other interfaces – and pride of ownership to the fore. A recently less usual Sony virtue of even, uniform backlighting is also apparent in our review sample.
Bright, crisp Freeview images
An area where Sony TVs are much improved in the past 12 months or so is TV reception. The 32V5500 delivers crisp, bright and colourful Freeview pictures with only minimal noise in the most trying scenes and commendably stable edge definition.
Motion tracking, an area where Sony screens of all sizes have often led the way, is again excellent here.
All of this is also apparent when the Sony is upscaling DVD pictures. Sharp and well defined, with clean contrasts and smooth movement, the 32V5500 is particularly adroit with skin-tones and textures – no flaw in complexion goes unnoticed. Deep black tones are convincing, too, though these could carry a little more detail.
Excellent with Blu-ray discs
Best of all, naturally enough, are 1080p/24fps images, and when showing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix the Sony's superbly poised colour palette, bright whites and murky blacks make for an immersive experience even at this modest screen size.
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Detail, edge definition and fast motion handling gild an already-commendable performance.
The sound the 32V5500 makes is a bit of a letdown, as the noise of a flatscreen so often is. The Sony fights shy of the shrillness of which less capable designs are so fond, but it's strangely boneless and hollow.
Where it really counts, though, the Sony's got it in spades. Even if your shortlist is so short there are only two screens on it, this needs to be one of them
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