Sony V5810 (KDL-32V5810) LCD TV Review

Sony adds value to its LCD line in the form of Freesat.

by AVForums
TV Review

Sony V5810 (KDL-32V5810) LCD TV Review
SRP: £599.00

Introduction

It’s been a while since I checked out a Sony LCD TV, but in for review, we have the Sony BRAVIA KDL-32V5810 display. In the flooded LCD TV market, differentiating between sets based on features is increasingly difficult, considering that almost all are equipped with 1920x1080p panels and a serviceable number of HDMI inputs.

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.

Styling

There was a time where Sony’s LCD designs were either highly distinctive (at worst) or downright snazzy, depending on your viewpoint. It’s not unfair to say that the original V-Series BRAVIAs, which launched in Summer 2005, were what caused the TV market to shift from the then-fashionable silver to sleek black. Sadly, today’s Sony displays have little in the looks department to set themselves out from the competition. The KDL-32V5810 is somewhat plainly styled with a slightly chunky gloss black bezel, the bottom of which is home to a plastic stippled speaker area. The only slightly distinctive feature is a strip of silver which runs from left to right below the SONY logo.

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

When you first turn the TV on, you’re given the option of tuning satellite, digital terrestrial, and analogue terrestrial channels. I chose to only scan for satellite channels, and I chose to use the Freesat service (you can opt out and scan for any satellite channels you like, but you’ll lose the Freesat Programme Guide). Doing so asks for your postcode, which is why I’m including this notice in the review: if you’re like me and you live in Scotland, it’s probably in your best interests to enter an English postcode here, otherwise you’ll be denied access to ITV HD. I imagine this is some sort of silly public service broadcasting conflict of interests, but thanks to satellite, it doesn’t have to concern us. Of course, you’ll lose local variants of BBC and ITV, but I don't suppose anyone will really mind.

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.

Features

The standout feature of the KDL-32V5810 is clearly the satellite tuner, but additionally, the display is DNLA certified and can therefore pull in images and music from your home network. Sony’s “Picture Frame” mode is also on-board: this feature was originally introduced on televisions which were styled in a way that bore similarity to hanging picture frames, and is presented slightly out of context here, but regardless, it will display one of nine preinstalled wallpaper-like images on the TV in a slide-show arrangement. You can, of course, insert your own USB device and have the TV show your own snapshots.

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.

Test Results

Measured Results Out of the Box

Recent 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.

Take a look at the RGB Level Tracking chart (top, centre) and you’ll notice that the Blue line is floating at around the 105% mark, which shows us that although the Theatre mode button has produced an almost correct Greyscale, there is still a slight excess of blue. (A perfect RGB Level Tracking Chart would have completely straight Red, Green and Blue lines, all at 100%). With this said, this is really not a bad result at all, and shouldn’t prove distracting for the majority of viewers. Of course, Sony has provided White Balance (Greyscale) controls in the TV’s Picture Menu, which allows us to use a measuring device to offset this slight blue tint later.

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.

Calibrated Results



After a short time adjusting the White Balance controls, the KDL-32V5810 was tracking Greyscale almost flawlessly. The largest error measured (bottom left of the chart) is just over 1.5, making it all but invisible. Many of the other measurements indicate errors of around 0.5 or less! This is absolutely excellent performance.

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 Processing

When 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 Performance

In 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 Consumption

Using 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.

Picture Quality

Image quality from the KDL-32V5810 is, on the whole, good for a CCFL-backlit LCD display. Like all LCDs, the motion resolution is not perfect and the image characteristics shift when the screen is viewed from the sides. In terms of black level, the display is one of the better LCDs I’ve seen lately, although this is leagues behind the better Plasma displays - although with this said, there are almost no Plasma displays to be had at this screen size, so I won’t dwell on this comparison.

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.

Verdict

6
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

The Good

  • 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

The Bad

  • 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

Sony’s introduction of Freesat-capable displays adds a good amount of value to the BRAVIA LCD lineup. Normally, I would find it hard to specifically recommend Sony’s implementations of the SPVA LCD panel type over Samsung’s, now that that company has upped its game in its previously lacking video processing and accuracy departments. However, Sony’s inclusion of user-accessible calibration controls (although lacking) and the Theatre mode button, coupled with the satellite tuner, mean that the KDL-32V5810 will find an audience despite its imperfections.

Scores

Sound Quality

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.
6

Smart Features

.
.
.
7

Ease Of Use

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.
.
.
6

Build Quality

.
.
.
.
6

Value for Money

.
.
.
.
6

Verdict

.
.
.
.
6

Picture Quality

.
.
.
7

Video Processing

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.
.
7

Greyscale Accuracy

.
.
8

Colour Accuracy

.
.
.
7

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

.
.
.
.
6

Screen Uniformity

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.
.
.
6
6
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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