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Sony KDL-EX500 series (photos)

The Sony KDL-EX500 LCD TV incorporates respectable image quality with essential features at a wallet-friendly price.

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David Katzmaier
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1 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Overview

Of the four Sony LCD TVs we've reviewed this year so far, the KDL-EX500 is both the least expensive and the most impressive for the money. It lacks the thin chassis of its LED-based brothers, along with the eye-catching Monolithic design of the company's flagship models. It even lacks an Ethernet port for Internet extras, along with many of the more advanced picture controls found on competing models in this price range. What it doesn't lack, however, is solid picture quality for an LCD, comparing well to both competing CCFL-backlit models and the edge-lit LEDs that cost much more. Among mainstream LCD TVs the Sony KDL-EX500 is a very good value.
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Corner detail

Two-tone gray and black separates the frame of the KDL-EX500 from the all-glossy-black pack.
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Stand detail

The matching stand base supports a low-profile, swiveling stalk.
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Side view

At 4 inches deep, the EX500 pinches two extra inches compared to its LED counterpart.
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Back panel inputs

Sony evenly divides the four HDMI ports between back and side.
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Side inputs

The second pair of HDMI is along the side, along with a USB port for video, photos, and music.
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Remote

We liked the ergonomic layout of the remote, but backlighting goes missing.
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Home menu

Hitting the Home button on the remote brings up two choices, the top three of which require you to insert a USB drive.
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Video playback menu

The ability to play back files stored on a USB drive is nice, but the Sony lacks the DLNA home network streaming found on competing Samsung models.
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Scene select menu

The Sony's picture presets are represented, in part, by a number of generally user-adjustable Scene modes.
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Main picture menu

Once you dig past the Home menu you're presented with the basic Settings, which offer lots of options at a glance.
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Motionflow options

The Sony EX500 doesn't have the extensive dejudder options of Samsung or LG, restricting its processing to two presets.
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Advanced picture settings

A few advanced controls are available on the EX500, but not as many as on some of the competition.
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White balance control

We did appreciate the ability to tweak white balance settings via the standard two-point control.
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Eco menu

Sony's Eco menu offers the usual power-saving options, which limit maximum light output and allow the picture to be turned off completely, bringing power use down to just 23 watts.
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Picture quality

The image quality of the KDL-EX500 series was impressive overall for an LCD, with superior uniformity and similar black level and color performance compared to edge-lit LED-based varieties. The accuracy of its color, particularly grayscale, was a strength, while video processing and slightly lighter blacks were a slight weakness compared to some competing non-LED models. We also appreciated the matte screen in brighter environments.

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