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Sony KV-36XBR250

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      16.11.2000 17:11
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      It's no exaggeration to state that when Sony introduced the first of its range of Trinitron WEGA sets a couple of years ago, it moved the goalposts in terms of TV design and picture quality. Since then everyone else has been struggling to keep up. The KV-32FX60U is the company's second generation WEGA Trinitron set, and boasts many of the hallmarks of its predecessor. The only significant difference is that it's more competitively priced. Of the three sets on test here, the Sony is probably the least attractive. The layout is fairly familiar, in that it boasts a selection of AV inputs under a flap at the front of the set and a pair of speakers by the sides of the screen. The twist is that it also has a series of basic controls at the top of the set. Round the back is the usual assortment of Scart and aerial sockets, but this TV also has a pair of phono audio outputs for hooking the set up to a hi-fi. The remote control is stylish. It features a tracker-ball, not unlike a PC mouse, which you use to dip in and out of the menus. It's a little intimidating to use at first, but you get used to it very quickly. The handset also operates Sony VCRs. The set-up system is incredible. It works like lightning to pull in all the available stations in a matter of seconds. There are also several useful initial set-up options that are worth investigating, namely picture geometry control (very useful if you're hooking the set-up to a Sony PlayStation) and picture rotation. One other useful feature is that when you adjust one of the settings, the on-screen menus shrink into a corner of the screen so you can actually see what's happening on screen. Very handy if you're experimenting with the range of picture options that are on this set. In addition to the usual suspects - colour, contrast, etc - the TV boasts AI which adjusts the set's contrast to suit the ambient lighting conditions in your room, and noise reduction whic
      h works to clean up poor terrestrial pictures. There is also a choice of three digital modes. 'Normal' delivers 100Hz picture processing, which significantly reduces image flicker. 'Digital+' adds more flicker reduction to 100Hz processing, and 'Advanced Digital+' offers motion smoothing. There are less audio options. The set boasts Nicam Stereo, not a surround sound system, which can be tailored to suit individual taste via a graphic equalizer. Also on board is a reasonably useful pseudo surround mode that Sony has christened 'Space'. Other facilities include a sleep timer, parental lock and a host of Smartlink-associated functions that features the neat option of one-button recording of an on-screen image if the set is a similarly endowed VCR. Picture format options include the usual selection of modes. However, there's no Panorama style mode, which stretches the side of a 4:3 image and leaves the centre untouched. Instead, you get Smart which blows up the picture lopping off sections at the top and bottom. Picture quality is superb. The set delivers both rich and colourful images from both analogue and digital TV sources. Its only slight bugbear is that there is a little more smearing on digital pictures than there is on the Panasonic set. None of the three digital picture options really improve this malaise. However, images are crisp and clear right up to the very edges of the screen. You can also see a sharp picture no matter which angle you look at the set from. The sound is pretty good with a generous output and a built-in subwoofer adds dollops of bass.

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