Top critical review
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Great picture, awful sound
on September 16, 2012
We purchased this TV to fit into an entertainment armoire that we bought many years ago. The case size makes it a perfect fit, and with its swiveling stand, I can position it optimally.
The most important thing to me in a TV is the picture - and that's where this model excels. It has amazing contrast for an LCD TV, although much of this is due to the better capabilities of the LED backlight. it's impressive compared to many other flat screen TVs I've seen, including the 37" Sharp Aquos it replaces - with much better range of viewing angles and far greater detail. The Bravia also does an amazing job with standard definition TV, which is another area where the Sharp fell flat. Although it looks a little fuzzy here and there, you just don't see the same kind of pixelation I noticed in other HDTVs. Finally, this TV comes out of the box with little need for fine tuning. It will ask you whether it's being setup in a home or retail environment and configure the picture accordingly. I spent hours setting up the Sharp with different calibration tools - I didn't find this to be necessary with the Bravia.
This TV comes equipped with a plethora of connectivity options, which is important to me since we have a variety of devices connected (Blu-Ray, VCR, Wii, WDTV Live, etc) and with its swiveling stand, it's easy to reach the ports. Although I would have preferred the basic controls on the top of the unit, like the Sharp, they are not terribly difficult to access along the back of the right side of the set.
The picture alone makes this TV worth the money. But I'm deducting two stars for the other half of the AV experience - the sound.
I realize that modern flat panel TVs, particularly the super-thin LED variety, don't have a whole lot of room for decent speakers. However, the speakers in this TV are just unacceptable. Volume is not the problem. These speakers simply can not come close to touching the range and depth of other TVs I've used, and particularly the Sharp that it replaced. They are just stunningly bad - and I am far from an "audiophile". The sound reminds me of a cheap clock radio. Yes, you can hear it and keep up with what is displayed on the screen, but it's almost monotone, lacks any kind of depth and if there's any kind of music in the background, forget about distinguishing voices. Even my wife, who is not particularly detail oriented when it comes to technology, could notice how tinny it was.
I'm not sure why this is the case as this TV does have a bit of a "bump out" for the speakers at the bottom/back of the unit. They just don't face the right way (forward) and are of poor quality. I guess Sony expects most buyers to opt for a home theater system. I have never felt the need to buy one before I purchased this TV. Now that I have, I'm glad I did - but it does stink to have to use a universal remote (Harmony 670), rather than the intuitive remote that came with my Verizon FIOS service. I plan to experiment with the Audio Return Channel and BRAVIA Sync features of the Sony HT-CT150 that I bought to compliment the TV, but haven't gotten around to getting long enough HDMI cables to accomplish this.
I'm not really going to get into the "smart" or "Internet connected" capabilities of this TV, as they are rendered mostly redundant by those built into my Sony Blu-Ray player. To be frank, I wouldn't judge a TV based on that criteria, since there's a variety of much better options available via tiny set-top boxes that can be had for less than $100 and are sure to be much more readily up-to-date in terms of the ever-changing services available on the Internet.
So in short, this is an excellent TV if you plan on using it with or buying an audio system for it. If you're not, be sure to experience it in person to decide whether you can live with the poor audio.