However, Sony have joined Panasonic and LG in providing TVs to the UK market with satellite tuners (DVB-S) built in, using the “Freesat” service and brand name as a vehicle. This allows customers who are still out of digital TV coverage through their aerial to pick up digital channels, and also allows reception of the BBC HD and ITV HD channels. Of course, the satellite capability is an additional extra: these TVs do also feature digital terrestrial tuners for receiving “Freeview” channels.
So, if you’re looking for a modestly sized display with a Satellite tuner built in, how does the KDL-32V5810 do? Let’s find out.
The back of the display features 2 HDMI inputs (there are another two on the side), 2 SCART terminals, Component video inputs, and a PC RGB (“VGA”) input. As well as the remaining HDMIs, the side features a LAN input, a USB input, and also Composite video and stereo audio jacks. Of course, the back panel also features inputs to the tuners, one for an aerial and one for a satellite dish.
Menus and Set up
Like almost all recent Sony products above a certain level, the KDL-32V5810 is using the company’s Xross Media Bar menu system. This stacks options in rows and columns and will be familiar to anyone who’s used a Playstation 3. Unlike the all-powerful PS3, the relative glitziness of the XMB interface causes the menus on this humble television to react somewhat slowly. Although it’s easy enough to use and won’t be irritating to all but the most impatient users, I don’t feel that it’s worthwhile or impressive enough to justify the slight delay.
With that said, all of the menu options are clearly laid out and users will be able to acquaint themselves with commonly used options quickly. The “Picture” menu contains the expected controls such as Backlight, Brightness, Contrast, Colour, and Sharpness. There’s also a temporal averaging filter (“Noise Reduction”) which will reduce analogue background noise, “MPEG Noise Reduction” (which I don’t recommend using as overcompressed video is simply beyond in-TV repair), and a “Film Mode” option which controls how film content inside an Interlaced TV signal is converted to the Progressive LCD panel.
Next, there is a screen of “Advanced Settings”. “Black Corrector” allows you to change the Black Level of the image just as the Brightness control does, the “Adv. Contrast Enhancer” fluctuates gamma and backlight on-the-fly to try to create a punchier, richer image, and there are also “Auto Light Limiter”, “Clear White”, and “Live Colour” controls. The only one of these I left enabled was “Gamma” (more on this in the calibration section, below). There is also a “White Balance” screen which allows calibration of the display’s Greyscale. Sadly, there is no Colour Management System here; the “Live Colour” control affects all six Primary and Secondary colours at once, in much the same way as the “Colour” control on the previous screen.
Sony’s Applicast is also present, meaning that the user can choose from a variety of online “widgets” to sit beside their TV picture – for example, an analogue clock, news on new Sony products, or a calendar.
Measured Results Out of the BoxRecent BRAVIA displays have a feature which I’m a fan of: a little orange button on the remote marked “THEATRE”. When pressed, the THEATRE mode button is supposed to apply a set of picture settings which result in a picture with professional Greyscale and Colour characteristics. The purpose of this is to watch video content the way it was intended to be watched, without the television adding its own abstracted characteristics into the picture. In this regard, it’s somewhat similar to the THX picture preset found on some competing displays.
Of course, having this as a button seems to suggest that high picture quality settings should only be chosen in select circumstances. This is not the case: these same picture settings should be used 100% of the time, because all professionally produced film and TV content is mastered in accordance to these same standards.
After enabling this mode, I noted that the Advanced Contrast Enhancer feature was enabled on its Low setting. I turned this to OFF to avoid light fluctuation. I also noted that the mode, by default, has Sharpness set at 3, which is just a tiny bit too edgy with some content, so I set this to 0. With test patterns, I also noted that the Brightness could be raised by 3 clicks in order to reveal a little more shadow detail. Contrast, too, had to be lowered slightly to avoid discolouration in the brightest parts of the image. With these adjustments made, I attached a measuring device to the TV to assess its Greyscale and Colour performance.
The previous measurements were for Greyscale, but what about for the individual colours in the image? The measurements here revealed that the KDL-32V5810 was having difficulty in fully saturating Red, Green, and Yellow. For viewers used to entirely accurate images, this deficiency will probably be somewhat apparent. Keep in mind also that since this is an LCD TV, the colours will further desaturate when the TV is viewed from the sides rather than straight on. The luminance of the colours (top right) was also too low, which further adds to this effect.
Videophiles may notice that the display’s Gamma (that is, the equal distribution of brightness inbetween dark and light) is quite flat, but is a tiny bit too high at around 0-60% brightness (and I do mean, “a tiny bit”). The measurements pictured were actually taken with the Gamma control at +1 – the default “Normal” setting resulted in the opposite scenario, that is, more accurate tracking in darker areas but lessened accuracy in brighter ones. However, because the “+1” setting improved Greyscale performance, I chose this as my final setting.
Unfortunately, the KDL-32V5810 has no Colour Management controls. This means that, although slight improvements have been made to colour reproduction, these are incidental and are a knock-on effect from the above Greyscale calibration. Granted, colour has improved slightly overall, but Cyan in particular is a tiny bit more off-hue than it was BEFORE the calibration. Sadly, there is nothing that can be done to bring a better result here, because we only have a single “Colour” control to work with. Come on, Sony: many other LCD manufacturers are offering a Colour Management System now. This is a feature we hope to see on future Sony displays.
Video ProcessingWhen it comes to handling Standard Definition content – which still makes up a decreasing, but still large amount of viewing material – the KDL-32V5810 did a good job overall. Most importantly for film lovers, the display correctly detects and processes the PAL 2-2 film cadence. This means that when the TV is fed material from European Digital TV, or a non-upconverting DVD player, then it will produce a picture that is free of jaggies (so long as the “Film Mode” option is enabled). For those keeping tabs, the NTSC 2-2 and 3-2 candences also passed the tests.
On top of this, the quality of the scaling (the upconversion from SD to HD) was excellent. Fine details (if there are any in the source you’re watching, that is) are retained wonderfully and are rendered crisply, without excessive ringing (assuming the Sharpness control is set correctly).
For Video camera content (such as sporting events, soap operas, etc), the situation is less favourable. The KDL-32V5810 performed poorly in the diagonal interpolation tests from the HQV Benchmark test disc, revealing a large amount of jagginess on moving steep edges. This is less of a problem with real-world content, which is frequently much softer than the patterns on the disc and therefore doesn’t reveal the problem to the same extent, but it is there. This is one aspect of Sony displays’ performance that I would like to see improved upon later.
In conclusion, the KDL-32V5810 performs very well with standard-def Film content, and acceptably with Video content.
Gaming PerformanceIn its calibrated picture mode, the KDL-32V5810 had an input lag measurement of around 60ms, which is unusually high. Pressing OPTION on the remote and selecting Scene Select, followed by “GAME” enables “Game Mode”, which cuts the figure to around 40ms. Neither of these figures are especially good, and personally, I find 40ms too high a delay for completely immersive gaming. With this said, many modern games feature a slower pace, anyway, and these should still be enjoyable on this display.
Energy ConsumptionUsing my own calibrated settings, the KDL-32V5810 consumed approximately 80w at all times. Since this is a CCFL-backlit LCD display rather than a locally dimmed LED LCD or Plasma, the energy consumption is constant and depends on the brightness setting of the Backlight lamps, rather than being affected by the on-screen images.
Unlike a previous 32” Sony display I reviewed, the KDL-32V5810 does not have any stand-out motion problems, beyond the uniform LCD motion blur. Some of last year’s displays featured an unusually high amount of trailing around black outlines in the picture, but this appears to have been resolved now. Also, unlike side-lit LED LCD displays I’ve seen lately, the uniformity of the KDL-32V5810’s picture was also very good for an LCD. There were no visible patches of the screen that stood out as being brighter or darker than the rest.
The solid out of the box Greyscale performance (which becomes essentially perfect after calibration) went a long way in making images look natural, even if the colour performance was slightly lacking. The slightly undersaturated Red and Green primary colours, coupled with the average contrast performance (once again: this is what to expect from an LCD) meant that image didn’t appear quite as rich as better displays, but it was still very watchable.
- Theatre mode button produces somewhat accurate video with minimal effort
- After full calibration, Greyscale accuracy is outstanding
- Built-in Freesat tuner reduces additional bulk and cabling, still an unusual feature
- Handling of standard-def Film material is good
- No stand-out panel uniformity or motion smearing issues, beyond those expected with LCD
- Lack of colour management system is a missed opportunity
- Diagonal interpolation (smoothing of jaggies in video material) is poor
Sony V5810 (KDL-32V5810) LCD TV Review
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