FOR Detailed and exciting picture; easy to use; great price AGAINST Thin sound; rivals offer more features and/or apps
If you’re looking for a good 32in TV on a budget, buy the Sony KDL32WD603. It really is that simple. It has an HD Ready resolution, a Freeview HD tuner, wi-fi, and even comes with Netflix and BBC iplayer. More importantly, picture quality is superb for the money.
With stunning Ultra HD 4K around, it seems odd to be praising an HD Ready picture. But the Sony KDL32WD603 delivers such a natural, detailed and well-balanced image for its price that we find ourselves enjoying the TV without counting pixels. The relatively small screen size no doubt helps too.
Play Mad Max: Fury Road on Blu-ray (admirably downscaled to fit the Sony’s resolution) and you get a sense of the angry heat of the wasteland, and the rough texture of sand.
While it’s not quite as crisply focused as a Full HD screen such as the LG 32LH604V, there is an abundance of detail. Strands of hair are distinguishable, wrinkles on people’s faces look natural and the textures of clothes are easily conveyed by the Sony’s talented screen.
However, it’s the black depth, and the accompanying intensity of anything bright against it, that earns the Sony its five stars. Blacks are deep and solid, but they don’t swallow up details as they do on the LG. And, unlike on the Panasonic TX32DS500B, they remain consistent throughout dark and daylight scenes.
Colours are beautifully balanced: blue skies look as believable as a well-worn red shirt. The KDL32WD603 doesn’t try to gloss over any detail or shade to make it look more appealing, it just delivers the picture as naturally as possible.
That same appealing character comes through when watching re-runs of Friends on Freeview HD and, apart from a softening around the edges, the picture remains a stable and entertaining watch.
While there’s not much to complain about with picture quality, there’s little heft to the Sony’s sound, which puts the focus on the bright top end. A good amount of detail still keeps us listening, though, as voices cut through sound effects and convey plenty of expression.
We have heard better, more fullbodied sound from rival 32in TVS such as the LG 32LH604V and the Panasonic 58 TX32DS500B, and would consider pairing the Sony with a soundbar or a pair of budget powered speakers for a bigger and more enveloping sound.
Slim and lean sounding
Sony has kept things simple with two HDMI inputs, two USB ports, and an optical output available on the back. One more HDMI input would be good though, especially for juggling Blu-ray/dvd player, games console and Sky box.
You’ll find Netflix and BBC iplayer on the Sony, but no Amazon Instant Video, which is a shame. Unlike Panasonic’s TX32DS500B (£300), Sony doesn’t include all the UK TV catch-up services – there’s no ITV Hub or All 4, but you do get iplayer and Demand 5.
Connecting to your home’s network takes seconds, whether you’re using the wired ethernet connection or Sony’s built-in wi-fi. Both methods prove stable when watching Youtube videos.
It may be only be a 32in HD Ready screen, but this budget Sony is a smartlooking set. It’s a slim flatscreen TV for starters, which makes it stand out against the chunky sets at this budget price. The Sony’s build quality feels a notch above that of LG and Panasonic too.
The slim black bezel surrounding the screen isn’t intrusive, and the sturdy stand is easy to slot in. On the other hand, that slimness does go some way to explaining why the Sony’s sound quality is on the lean side.
What warms us further to this Sony is how easy it is to use. The simple interface may not be as visually exciting as LG’S WEBOS, but it just works. There are no hiccups or lags, scrolling through the TV guide is quick and smooth, and the remote works responsively with the TV.
One small niggle: you can’t tweak picture settings while watching iplayer (trying to access the home menu automatically exits any app on screen). But when there’s so much we like about the Sony KDL32WD603, that’s a minor complaint. It’s a lovely TV and its picture quality is so good we didn’t notice we were watching an HD Ready TV.
If you’re looking for a small TV on a budget – this is the one you want.
Deep, intense blacks highlight beautifully balanced colours and earn this 32in Sony TV the full five stars