Sony KDL-37EX401 review

Decent on paper it may be, but this Sony LCD just can't cut the mustard, and there's far better out there Tested at £440.00

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Our Verdict

Decent on paper and impressive at first glance, this cheap Sony is quickly let down by clumsy and unnatural pictures

For

  • Cheap for a Sony
  • looks decent
  • sharp, punchy pictures
  • XMB is quick to operate

Against

  • Limited features
  • weak motion
  • overemphasis of edges
  • unsubtle contrast

Though it's not perfect, Sony does have a reputation for building some of the best tellies around.

So much so, in fact, that it could be tempting, when perusing the shelves of your local Tesco superstore or browsing through Amazon on your PC, to spot the KDL-37EX401 and think ‘blimey, that's a bit cheap, but it's a Sony so it's got to be good.'

That, though, would be a mistake: the EX401 isn't horrible – but it's not that great.

No internet options
First impressions aren't bad, mind. From a distance the 'EX401 looks almost identical to its more expensive siblings.

A closer inspection reveals the materials to be a bit cheaper and more basic, but this is a perfectly stylish unit. The remote is similar, too, but without the ‘Internet Video' or ‘Exit' buttons.

The first of those buttons is telling: the EX401 has to do without Sony's suite of internet goodies; and firmware updates need to be downloaded manually from Sony, and put on a USB stick that you then plug into the telly.

This set also does without Freeview HD, and, while Sony's XMB is present (and it's especially quick and fluid on this set), individual menus are fairly basic and they refuse to get out of the way as you adjust options, making picture calibration far fussier than it should be.

Initially impressive
Once you've made the effort, though, the Sony rewards you with a picture that, at least initially, is rather impressive.

Play Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on Blu-ray and there's the kind of punch and boldness to the image that sees it really pop from the screen. That sounds like a great thing, doesn't it?

There is a sense, though, that the EX401 is overdoing it slightly, that it's overemphasising edges and over-exposing colours, so although the Blu-ray performance initially impresses, it begins to look a bit unrealistic over time.

And that's without discussing the motion handling, which is weak even by the standards of 50Hz TVs.

Switch to a DVD or the standard-definition Freeview tuner, and those niggles become bigger problems.

Again, images initially look sharp, but that's because every edge is overemphasised, as though the initial pencil line has been traced over with a big, thick felt-tip.

Decent sound, but clumsy images
It's clumsy with contrast, too, offering deep blacks and bright whites, but very little in between, and that results in an inability to realistically portray gradients in shade or skin tones.

What is true, though, is that this 'EX401 does sound pretty decent by flatscreen standards. It doesn't dig up the finest details, nor has it great weight, but it is fairly clear, direct and punchy.

Unfortunately that's not nearly enough to make up for the clumsy, unnatural, in-your-face picture or the number of features it lacks next to its cheaper competitors.

This is one Sony that should definitely be left on the shelf.

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Specifications

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Interfaces-Ports

HDMIYes
VGAYes
USBYes
Total Number of HDMI Ports4

Physical Characteristics

Depth with Stand25.1 cm
Weight with Stand Approximate13.60 kg
Width with Stand92.1 cm
Weight Approximate11.60 kg
Height with Stand59.9 cm
Width92.1 cm
VESA Mount Standard300 x 300
Depth9.8 cm
Height56.4 cm
ColourBlack
Dimensions56.4 cm (H): 92.1 cm (W): 9.8 cm (D)

Technical Information

FeaturesChannel Labeling, Auto Program, Ambient Lighting, Favorite Channel Selection, Teletext, Picture and Picture (PAP), Picture in Picture, Sleep Timer, Child Lock
Aspect Ratio16:9
Backlight TechnologyCCFL
Electronic Program GuideYes
Screen Size94 cm (37")

General Information

Product LineBRAVIA
Product NameSony KDL-37EX401
Product ModelKDL-37EX401
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.sony.co.uk
Brand NameSony
Product TypeLCD TV
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Manufacturer Part NumberKDL37EX401U

Audio

RMS Output Power20 W
Sound SystemDolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Surround Sound

Energy and Performance

Standby Power Consumption100 mW
Maximum Resolution1920 x 1080
Operating Power Consumption149 W

Video

Digital TunerDVB-C (MPEG2), DVB-T (MPEG2)
Video Signal StandardHDTV
Scan Format1080p

Miscellaneous

DLNA CertifiedYes
Package Contents
  • BRAVIA KDL-37EX401 LCD TV
  • Operating Instruction
  • Table-Top Stand
  • Remote Control