If you're looking to invest in a decent TV, anything made by Sony usually makes for a worthy investment (yes, it may be a generalisation, but in my experience it is true). In particular, the 'Bravia' range consistently includes televisions which offer a decent picture and impressive clarity of sound. Today i'm looking at the Bravia KDL-37P3020 - a 37" LCD wonder which currently costs £349 from Amazon.
Design, Features, & Appearance
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Bearing in mind that the KDL-37P3020 is now a few years old, it does perhaps look a little dated - the charcoal grey screen surround is a little thicker than those seen on the current crop of LCD TVs, and the screen itself is similarly less glossy. The television comes complete with a stand, but it can also be wall mounted if required via a (rather pricey) £68 bracket. Round the back there are two HDMI inputs, two SCART inputs and also a Component input. It should be pointed out straight away that the KDL-37P3020 is merely "HD Ready" rather than full HD - this means that its resolution maxes out at 720p (1366 x 768) rather than at 1080p. Personally, I don't find this to be much of an issue, as UK Freeview HD TV is currently only broadcast at 720p, and similarly many PS3 games use the same resolution.
Picture, Audio, & Remote
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Performance-wise, the TV delivers the goods across the board with a stunning picture quality when viewing 720p HD content. Colours are natural, and the contrast ratio of 1800:1 allows a visual depth with impressive black levels. Just as importantly there's a fluidity of movement, although the TV doesn't support a 24hz mode (widely used in blu-ray playback to achieve a cinematic feel). The inbuilt Freeview tuner similarly returns good results, although here you will need to fiddle with the picture settings to the best out of it - by default, the sharpness levels are a little low, and the contrast is too high.
The audio output is generally clear, and there are a number of sound modes to tinker with including BBE ViVA HD3D, and Virtual Dolby Digital. That said, I rarely use the TV's speakers (20 Watt), as I have the sound channeled through my home cinema system. The remote is slim-line and straightforward, requiring two AA batteries to operate. it's generally comfortable to hold and all of the buttons are in easily accessible locations. In terms of the TV's downsides, the Freeview Electronic Program Guide isn't especially well presented, and not that intuitive - I believe the newer Bravia's have had an EPG visual overhaul to freshen up the interface. That said, it's not essential to use the KDL-37P3020's EPG, as many of you will be bypassing it via your Sky+ or Freeview / Freesat set-top box's own guide.
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Even though it's a few years old, The KDL-37P3020 is an excellent product for the price - when it was first released it was sold in many places for £599, so £349 feels like a definite bargain. On the whole, the TV features a great picture (if set up correctly), and it's very reliable. The most impressive aspect of the set is probably it's ability to render beautiful colours and tones, and when watching a film (whether it be via Blu-ray, DVD, or simply Freeview), the picture is displayed with a cinematic quality. Yes, the telly looks *a little* dated, but it's a pleasure to watch and simple to set up - recommended.
Technical Bits and Pieces
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Dimensions (WxDxH): 90.6 cm x 12.6 cm x 61.1 cm - without stand
Resolution: 1366 x 768 (720p)
Input Video Formats: 480p, 720p, 1080i, 576i, 576p
Video Interface: Component, composite, HDMI, S-Video, SCART
Technology: TFT active matrix
LCD Backlight Technology: Wide Color Gamut-CCFL
Progressive Scan: Yes
Sound Effects: BBE ViVA HD3D, Virtual Dolby Digital
Stereo Reception System: NICAM