Skip to main content

Sony KDL-32CX523 review

The Sony KDL-32CX523 will give you the latest features on a budget, if you don't mind how it looks Tested at £450

Our Verdict

A feature-packed budget set that only gives away a smidge in performance


  • Great value in terms of features
  • sound isn’t bad
  • good tuner
  • subtle, detailed pictures


  • We aren’t too keen on this Sony’s gloomy picture
  • nul points for style

Sony is master of the myriad model launch. The CX range is the entry-level series for 2011 – though from the styling you’d be forgiven for being unsure.

It says a lot that this chassis, thicker and more cumbersome than the most, it had some staff here asking whether it was definitely a new model. If it’s style you’re after, this isn’t the one.

A bit of a hefty beast
Part of this relative bulk can be explained by the backlight. It’s not an LED screen, instead using a traditional CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamp) backlight to bring the LCD panel to life.

This tech requires more space compared with tiny LEDs (and also uses more power). Claimed contrast levels are different too, with the KDL-32CX523’s dynamic contrast being described as ‘high’ on Sony’s spec sheet, as opposed to ‘mega’ on the EX Series.

Yes, really. Marketing guff aside, you’ll have to make do with a stand that doesn’t tilt like the Sony KDL-32EX524, and a slightly different remote control.

Plenty of the same features and functions are here, however: Freeview HD, four HDMI inputs, Bravia Internet Video and USB recording, to take a handful.

Slick Xross Media Bar interface

Sony’s new Xross Media Bar-derived user interface is also here, and we think once you familiarise yourself with the way it works, it’s a subtle upgrade – not least as you can easier keep an eye on what you’re watching thanks to picture-in-picture.

Without wanting to labour the comparison, the picture character is similar on both these sets, but this less-expensive model gives a little away in places. For the lower price, though, there’s plenty to like.

Broadcast TV proves clean and easy to watch thanks to a relaxed colour palette that trades dynamic excitement for subtlety. It’s a little softer than the best here, but decent nonetheless.

Switch to disc-based stuff and we can’t help thinking the Sony could do with a kick up its chunky backside.

Bright colours aren’t bright enough, whites don’t look too crisp and clean… it’s as if there’s a layer across the screen that can’t quite be removed, no matter how we adjust the picture processing or attempt to boost the brightness, backlight or contrast.

Good Blu-ray performance
The Monsters Blu-ray shows the CX523 is capable. There’s impressive insight and decent black levels, while Sony’s motion processing is smoother than a James Bond chat-up line.

The Qriocity service isn’t working at the time of writing, but our previous experiences have been positive: impressive picture performance, not least from HD content.

Sonically the CX523 is better than your average, too, avoiding harshness with a well-rounded delivery.

This set will almost certainly be available even cheaper – and it’s one of the best budget options, not least if the streaming appeals. But it’s not quite the all-conquering Sony we expected.

See all our TV Best Buys

Follow whathifi on Twitter

Join whathifi on Facebook


View All

General Information

Product SeriesCX
Product LineBRAVIA
Product NameSony KDL-32CX523
Product ModelKDL-32CX523
Manufacturer Website Address
Brand NameSony
Product TypeLCD TV
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Manufacturer Part NumberKDL32CX523BU


Total Number of HDMI Ports4

Energy and Performance

Energy Efficiency ClassC
Standby Power Consumption250 mW
Viewable Screen Size81 cm (31.9")
Energy Consumption per Year107 kWh
Maximum Resolution1920 x 1080
Operating Power Consumption112 W

Physical Characteristics

Depth with Stand23 cm
Weight with Stand Approximate11.40 kg
Width with Stand79.9 cm
Weight Approximate8.70 kg
Height with Stand53.2 cm
Width79.9 cm
Depth7 cm
Height50.2 cm
Dimensions50.2 cm (H): 79.9 cm (W): 7 cm (D)

Technical Information

FeaturesPicture and Picture (PAP)
Aspect Ratio16:9
Backlight TechnologyCCFL
Internet AccessYes
Smart TVYes
PC StreamingYes
Electronic Program GuideYes
Curved ScreenNo
Screen Size81.3 cm (32")

Network and Communication



RMS Output Power20 W
Sound SystemSurround Sound


Digital TunerDVB-C (MPEG4)
Video Signal StandardHDTV
Scan Format1080p
Number of Tuners1
Standard Refresh Rate50 Hz


DLNA CertifiedYes
Package Contents
  • Remote Control
  • 2 x AAA Batteries
  • AC Power Cable