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Sony KDL-37V5500 review

It's a capable set, without doubt, but once again we see the limitations of Sony's backlighting Tested at £700.00

Our Verdict

A capable TV, but it can’t quite match the best for all-round performance

For

  • Full HD spec alongside a wealth of other features
  • stylish design and easy to use
  • good tuner, good sound
  • fine HD images

Against

  • Blotchy backlight is visible
  • not the last word in detail

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

A capable TV, but it can’t quite match the best for all-round performance

Pros

  • + Full HD spec alongside a wealth of other features
  • + stylish design and easy to use
  • + good tuner, good sound
  • + fine HD images

Cons

  • - Blotchy backlight is visible
  • - not the last word in detail

Oh sweet Lord, Sony. Here we go again with one of the stories that last year dominated our TV reviews, was the talk of our Forums and impacted on our Awards: backlighting clouding.

The problem, as it has been before with Sony sets, is that the backlight is uneven. This reveals itself in blotches of light on the screen when it should otherwise be black – and at times there are even visible lighter patches when watching video content.

So, once more, we must say exercise caution when considering this Sony model.

The silver lining
That not inconsiderable clouding problem aside, this Sony ticks all the specification boxes.

The V5500 sits in the middle of Sony's long lineup of TVs, but still packs in four HDMI inputs, DLNA connectivity, Applicast technology for viewing selected online content and a USB input.

That's a fair amount for your £700 – or less if you shop around.

This set is fairly easy on the eye, as is usual for Sony, while the familiar remote control is intuitive and thoughtfully organised. Switch on, and the XrossMediaBar makes for a smooth navigation experience, so we're soon enjoying the set in action.

Punchy, sharp pictures
Watching off-air content from the digital TV tuner the picture is punchy and sharp. BBC HD's content looks superb from a Sky HD box while standard definition content is handled confidently avoiding any noise, instability or motion issues.

It's more good news when we send some Blu-ray content. The gripping District 9 shows the ‘V5500 capable of solid black levels that still uncover sometimes hidden details from gloomy corners, while brighter scenes show clean, fresh whites and punchy colours.

The set does a fine job of delivering smooth but realistic motion, too. It's all topped off by full-bodied, expansive sound.

See all our TV Best Buys

So what's wrong? Well, there's that backlight unevenness which does shine through in light scenes at times and more obviously in dimly-lit scenes.

Also, it doesn't quite match the best around for probing insight and the subsequent sense of three-dimensionality that comes with it.

So yet again (in recent memory) it's qualified praise for what is at times an excellent Sony LCD TV.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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