It seems weird to be reviewing a budget TV from Sony. After all, only a few years ago, we used to talk about the Sony tax -- the extra you paid just to have the company's badge on the front of your TV. Times have changed, though, and Sony is now pricing its TVs aggressively throughout its entire range.
The 32-inch, 1080p KDL-32CX523 LCD TV is especially affordable -- you can pick it up online for around £400. Despite the low price, it packs in plenty of goodies, including impressive support for online services, such as BBC iPlayer.
The KDL-32CX523 lacks an LED backlight, so the chassis is relatively chunky, at 70mm thick. It's also pretty much entirely made out of hard plastic, so it doesn't have the premium feel of some of Sony's higher-end models. It still feels like it's bolted together well, though.
Viewed from the front, it's quite a handsome set, and its angular lines look clean and classy. The bezel around the screen is quite thick for a modern telly, though.
Many manufacturers skimp on connectivity options on their budget models, but that's not the case here. With four HDMI ports, a set of component inputs, Scart and composite connections, as well as a VGA socket, you won't struggle to find ports to hook your AV kit up to. The CX523 also sports two USB ports, as well as an Ethernet socket.
Sony has recently rejigged its TV user interface, moving away from the XrossMediaBar system that it has employed for the past few years. Hitting the 'home' button on the remote now pulls up a rotating line of icons at the bottom of the screen that you can cycle through to access the features you want.
The interface no longer obscures the current channel you're watching, but instead resizes it into a large, windowed box in the top left of the screen. The new interface isn't as immediate as, say, the one found on Samsung's latest sets, but it is faster to use than the older XrossMediaBar system.
The KDL-32CX523 has a Freeview HD tuner, so you can use the set to view hi-def services from the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV without the need for an external set-top box.
But Freeview isn't your only gateway to free content. The set's Internet features also give you access to a wide range of online media, including the BBC's iPlayer service, as well as Demand 5, YouTube and Dailymotion.
In fact, in terms of video content, Sony's Internet platform is one of the best out there at the moment. As well as online video, the TV also has apps for a number of social-networking sites, including Facebook, Twitter and Picasa. If you buy the optional webcam, you can even use the TV to make video calls over Skype.