Sony KDL-22E5300 £400
1st Aug 2009 | 15:00
Is this Sony 22" LCD TV more than just a fancy design?
The smaller TVs get, the more homogenised they tend to be, but Sony's 22E5300 doesn't just break the mould, it pummels it into oblivion.
Right away the 22E5300 looks different with its neckless desktop stand and additional black 'frame' around the main glossy white bezel.
This design approach is also entirely appropriate given that the TV carries Sony's Picture Frame mode. This ramps down the running power so that you can use the TV to show your favourite photos when you're not watching it.
Further Picture Frame support comes from a USB port capable of playing JPEG photos (as well as MP3 audio and MPEG1 video files), and an Ethernet port you can use to download images from Sony's otherwise rather limited Applicast online service.
Finding online functions on such a small mainstream TV is unprecedented, but the 22E5300 doesn't stop there. For you can also use its Ethernet port to access content stored on a connected PC.
The pleasant surprises continue with the discovery that the 22E5300 carries an ambitious four HDMIs, and Sony's latest Bravia Engine 3 video processing system that's performed well on Sony's big TVs.
The icing on the specification cake comes from a claimed contrast ratio of 80,000:1. This is a huge figure for the sub-26in market, raising hopes of a truly cinematic performance level. Hopes that are emphatically realised as it turns out.
The contrast claims, for instance, give rise to far and away the most contrast-rich pictures we've seen on a small TV, as bright, clean whites co-exist with deep, natural, detail-packed black levels to stunningly dynamic effect.
Meanwhile, a terrifically vibrant and expressive colour palette avoids almost all the strident tones that can be found on many a small screen.
The 22E5300 suffers relatively little with LCD's motion blur problems, too, while its Bravia Engine 3 system does a great job of upscaling standard definition to the screen's HD Ready resolution. The set even manages to put out sound that's quite enjoyable, thanks to a combination of high clarity, potent volume levels and an almost complete lack of distortion.
If we were to be ridiculously picky, we could wish for a touch more crispness to the 22E5300's high-definition presentation, a wider effective viewing angle, and slightly more bass grunt to the soundstage.
In the great scheme of things, though, these are trivial issues, and don't remotely obscure the fact that Sony's 22E5300 is a set that finally introduces some genuine premium quality and features to the frequently rather bland and harsh sounding small-screen market.
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