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I have been resisting switching over to digital television since it first appeared. And as far as I was concerned, the TFT televisions were to be avoided until all the niggling problems were ironed out. After getting back to (almost) normal after my heart attack, I decided it was time to "bite the bullet" and get a TFT. A 32-inch model would be about the best size for our lounge so that's what I opted for and, being a Sony fanatic, Sony it had to be. Our last Sony (CRT) television had been with us for 10 years or more and had never given any problems and the same can be said for our Sony video recorder.
I was surprised to find out that receiving digital was not without it problems. Firstly, you cannot record one channel and watch another, but I am digressing here from the actual TV Enter the Sony Bravia. KDL-32S2010.
First of all, I think the set is very attractive and it's 32-inches of screen fills the front of the set. The speakers are underneath, and not on the sides as they are on many other brands that make it more compact and fit in a smaller space.
Picture & Screen
The picture and colours are truly superb, even on analogue. What I have done is plugged my video and DVD recorders into NTL from which we still receive an analogue signal, and the TV is connected to our roof aerial from which we get digital Freeview broadcasts and analogue terrestrial television - best of both worlds until 2009, when the analogue signal is finally turned off.
There are 5 settings for the screen mode.
1. Smart which adjusts to wide screen for wide screen broadcasts or simulated wide screen for standard 4:3 picture broadcasts.
2. Conventional screen size, where the 4.:3 picture comes through as it is with a black bar down each side.
3. Wide - will show everything is wide and stretches the 4:3 picture (tend to put weight on people).
4. Zoom - this is well to zoom into the picture.
5. 14:9 broadcasts which as in 4:3 shows black borders in the picture. I tend to leave mine in no 1 position (Smart).
Through the speakers comes Dolby surround sound - which is really excellent. A friend of mine owns a Samsung set and one thing I noticed was the tinny sound his made in comparison to ours. The Sony really excels in this area. So realistic is this sound that quite often I find myself almost getting out of my chair to answer the telephone or front door bell, when in fact, it has come from the TV. And turn the base up and you have a beautiful rich sound - great for watching music programs/DVDs. Even though I have the set connected to my surround-sound hi-fi system, I find that I rarely use it because the internal speakers of this set are so good.
On the sound menu, which you can call up on the handset by pressing a button marked "Menu" or "Tools Menu" you can alter the target inputs, which means you can set your sound preferences for "viewing only" or for "all". You can set it to "Dynamic" which enhances treble and base, "Standard" which Sony recommends for general home entertainment, or "Custom" where you can play around with base, treble, balance etc and then store your preferred settings.
What I found quite good to play with was the Surround Sound settings. The surround sound is referred to as "TruSurround XT", then you have "Simulated Stereo" that gives mono broadcasts a surround-sound like effect - and I got to admit, it really makes a difference to older movies and programs. Another little feature is referred to as BBE that gives your sound even more impact.
Apart from the Main Menu on the handset, you have the Tools Menu. From this menu you can adjust Power Saving - this is used to reduce power consumption of the TV when switched on, or you can select "Picture Off" when for instance, you want to listen to digital radio stations when there is no need for a picture at all. You can also set up your subtitles if required, your Digital Favourites (for quick access), set an Auto Clock, Sleep Timer and Volume.
You can also access the picture and sound menu (discussed earlier) from here.
Provides usual adjustments on colour, contrast, brightness, then
Picture Mode in which you can select "Vivid" for enhanced picture contrast and sharpness - which I found is a little too brilliant for the home, so I keep mine set to "Standard" but it's a matter of personal choice. Then you have "Custom" mode where you can adjust the picture to personal preferences and store them.
You can also adjust Backlight and something that is called Colour Temperature - something I like messing about with "Cool" gives the white colours a blue tint, "Neutral" a neutral tint, "Warm 1" gives white colours a red tint, "Warm 2" gives them a redder tint.
The in-built digital tuner kicks in the first time you plug the TV in after asking if you to press "OK" on the handset when you are ready for it to search and install channels. Once you press OK, you don't have to do anything else but wait until both analogue (whilst it is still available here in Cardiff) and digital channels are tuned in and then you can just start watching the TV. You can however, change the analogue broadcast stations to different numbers on the handset, but the Freeview digital ones are set to certain channel numbers. This can be verified if you look in any TV magazine and newspapers that will have the channel number written in.
At the side of the aerial socket is a slot for a CAM module (CAM stands for Conditional Access Module) - this is a small card you can insert to access pay per view services, generally known as Top-up TV. There are more details about this on the Top-up TV website - they are changing their service though - for details see http://www.topuptv.com
The TV is fully HD (High Definition) ready and there is a socket in the back for connecting HD Satellite box, DVD etc. There are two scart sockets, one of which has something called "Smartlink" - this is for a video or DVD recorder that also has Smartlink. This is so the TV can record to the DVD when the TV is either switched on or in Standby mode. But you can't watch a different channel whilst it is doing this. But that's the way digital is. You need two separate tuners to do that - but there are digi-boxes available that do this - I got one of those on my Christmas present list.
We have our DVD recorder connected to the Smart Link and our video recorder connected to the standard scart connector. To use the Smart Link, there is a timer in the TV menu which when activated will switch on our DVD recorder to record without having to set it's own timer.
In the timer menu, there is also a "reminder" selection which will turn the set to the correct station automatically when the selected programs starts broadcasting - it doesn't matter which channel you are watching at the time - a little warning comes up on the screen to remind you that a "timer event" is about to start, and then it will switch channels.
There is another component input for camcorders etc.which has an S-Video socket and composite video socket and stereo in sockets.
There are other sockets for headphones and phono outputs for connecting hi-fi speakers and/surround-sound speakers or amplifiers.
Overall, I am extremely pleased with my Sony Bravia purchase and would have no hesitation in recommending this set. Both the instruction book and handset is really easy to understand.
Digital broadcasting I feel though, still has its bugs. From time to time, the picture will freeze - I have been told they all do this. And there are times when the TV will switch itself into standby and "reboot" like a computer (only much quicker about 10 seconds) and this tends to be when the broadcast freezes.
One last thing: I came rather close to buying one of these sets on line, but changed my mind and bought from our local branch of Comet. In the event of something going wrong with equipment costing near a grand, I prefer people I can talk face-to-face with - to me it's worth the extra couple of hundred and a failed set can be simply put in the car and taken back to the store. One that's been shipped, has to be shipped back with all the expense and time involved.
Thanks for reading