Sony Bravia KDL-EX524 40in LED TV
Internet telly for the rest of us
Review Sony’s KDL-EX524 is a well-equipped flatscreen for those of us with scant regard for the third dimension. Resolutely 2D, this Freeview HD 40-incher with 32- and 37-inch alternatives, instead tempts with features like Internet connectivity, media streaming and USB HDD recording. It’s also relatively affordable.
Slimline LED casts a net: Sony's Bravia KDL-EX524
First impressions are good. The TV is light but well-built, with a subtle two-tone finish. Connectivity is equally pleasing. It has three rear-placed HDMI inputs, plus Scart, component with stereo audio, Ethernet and digital optical out.
There are no side-mounted inputs, instead you’ll find extra connectivity facing sideways from the backplate; there’s a fourth HDMI, two USBs, a PC mini D-Sub and a CI slot. Wi-Fi isn’t integrated, but Sony sells a dongle for the job.
Once tuned in, it quickly becomes apparent that Sony has refreshed the Bravia user interface. The longstanding XcrossMediaBar – first introduced on the PS3 before spreading to pretty much everything else in the Sony portfolio – has given way to a new bar at the bottom of the screen. Now, live TV continues in a minimised window while you navigate.
No more XMB: revamped user interface for navigation
The EX524’s key draw is net connectivity. I’ve always liked the depth of the brand’s Bravia Internet Video portal, and now I like its presentation too. A tiled grid gives quick access to the Qriocity music and video on demand service, along with the BBC iPlayer, Demand 5, LoveFilm, YouTube, Daily Motion and other BIV regulars.
Naturally, the set streams media, but compatibility is not comprehensive. I doubt that I’m alone in being frustrated by Sony’s ongoing refusal to support MKV content. On the plus side, AVIs, AVCHD and MPEG4 files all play, as do MP3, WMA and WAV. The set’s audio file presentation is stylish, with album art featured on-screen.
Those with a spare external USB hard drive are encouraged to rope it in for PVR duties. The TV will need to format the drive first, in the process locking any content it records to the host TV. Still, as a timeshift overflow – when your regular recorder is tied up – this feature is rather handy.
Picture quality is good, albeit with caveats. The EX524 has a convincing black level and colour reproduction that’s deliciously ripe. However, motion resolution is limited.
As the TV does not feature Sony’s Motionflow framerate booster, it’s unable to display moving resolution at Full HD. I measured motion detail at no more than 650 lines. For improved clarity, you’ll need to step up to the brand’s more expensive EX723 and EX724 models. On the plus side, there are no motion artefacts to speak of – nearly always a side-effect of 100Hz-200Hz picture processing.
The edge-lit LED screen has the advantage of being more energy efficient than backlit models. Sony rates its average power consumption at a penny-saving 65W (jumping to 113W if you use the Vivid picture setting), with 0.3W in standby. Indeed, this is enough to earn it an A-Rating with the new Euro Energy Efficiency stickering system.
Decent picture and good functionality too
Overall, I’d rate the 40EX524 as a stylish, everyman telly with a forward looking feature roster. As such, it bodes well for other screens in Sony’s 2011 line. While more demanding users should look up the Sony range for better picture quality, I suspect regular folk will find plenty to like here. ®
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