capsule review

Sony Bravia KDL-V32XBR1

At a Glance
  • Sony KDL-V32XBR1 32" LCD TV (16:9, 1366x768, 1300:1, HDTV)

    TechHive Rating

    Rich sound, easy-to-understand menus, and a sturdy remote are this premium model's best points.

Sony Bravia KDL-V32XBR1
Artwork: Rick Rizner, Chris Manners

The Sony Bravia KDL-V32XBR1 offers some interesting, high-end features that help explain its high price ($2700 on 3/24/06). However, its image quality, though generally good, falls short of what you see on some less expensive LCD TVs.

In our image-quality tests, the KDL-V32XBR1 generally performed well. Compared to its competitive set at time of testing, it received a score of Good in most image quality categories. Vivid color in our standard-definition TV tests earned it a rating of Very Good in that category. It also did well in the bright lights test, though not as well as the Samsung LN-S3251D did. However, the Sony also showed some weaknesses when tested at defaults. Jurors complained of dark screens and orange or yellow tints on the Sony high-definition TV tests; in that HDTV category, it barely eked out a rating of Good. The KDL-V32XBR1 trailed most other recently tested TVs in our HDTV, DVD, color quality, and detail categories. However, its built-in speakers produced full, rich sound--especially on its TruSurround XT setting--from our DVD of Seabiscuit.

The KDL-V32XBR1's many inputs are well labeled, and thanks to a smoothly swiveling base, even the ones on the back are easy to reach. It's one of the few recently reviewed LCD TVs that includes a CableCard slot, which means you won't need to mess with a set-top box from your TV provider. One particularly nifty feature for owners of Sony cameras: You can browse or slide-show Memory Stick contents on the TV. There's even a button on the remote for it.

The remote is an attractive, long, pleasantly metallic device. Its battery compartment closes with a thumbscrew, so it's unlikely to pop open if dropped. You won't have to crawl under the furniture in pursuit of runaway AA batteries.

A nice touch is the way the Freeze button works: It splits the screen into two smaller windows against a black background, freezing the picture in one window while letting the video continue in another.

I found the screen controls a little hard to activate, due to cryptic markings on the remote, but the actual screens made sense. The menus look very TV-like, as opposed to those of the Vizio L32HDTV, which resemble a desktop monitor's on-screen display menu. The Sony's three screen modes are Vivid, Standard, and the configurable Custom; to lessen the color issues detailed above, Custom settings will probably be the most comfortable. Vivid lives up to its name, and although it makes natural flesh tones look harsh, it could be useful for watching animation or playing games.

The chief attraction of the Sony Bravia KDL-V32XBR1 is its well-conceived physical design. Details like the CableCard slot and the neatly secured remote battery compartment make this a TV that would be easy to live with. And if you have use for the more unusual features, such as the Memory Stick input, the Sony Bravia KDL-V32XBR1 may be well worth your money. However, other recently tested TVs, such as the Samsung LN-S3251D and the Vizio L32HDTV mentioned above, delivered better image quality for a lower financial outlay.

Physical design and high-end features, including rich sound, recommend this Sony Bravia, but for the price (at time of review), its image quality could be better.

Laura Blackwell

This story, "Sony Bravia KDL-V32XBR1" was originally published by PCWorld.

To comment on this article and other TechHive content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    Rich sound, easy-to-understand menus, and a sturdy remote are this premium model's best points.

    Pros

    • Prominent, well-labeled inputs
    • CableCard slot

    Cons

    • So-so image quality on HDTV content
    • Pricey
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.