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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Overview

Corner detail

Stand detail

Side view

Back panel inputs

Side inputs

Remote

Home menu

Video playback menu

Scene select menu

Main picture menu

Motionflow options

Advanced picture settings

White balance control

Eco menu

Picture quality

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.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Two-tone gray and black separates the frame of the KDL-EX500 from the all-glossy-black pack.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The matching stand base supports a low-profile, swiveling stalk.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
At 4 inches deep, the EX500 pinches two extra inches compared to its LED counterpart.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Sony evenly divides the four HDMI ports between back and side.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The second pair of HDMI is along the side, along with a USB port for video, photos, and music.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
We liked the ergonomic layout of the remote, but backlighting goes missing.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Hitting the Home button on the remote brings up two choices, the top three of which require you to insert a USB drive.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The Sony's picture presets are represented, in part, by a number of generally user-adjustable Scene modes.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Once you dig past the Home menu you're presented with the basic Settings, which offer lots of options at a glance.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The Sony EX500 doesn't have the extensive dejudder options of Samsung or LG, restricting its processing to two presets.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
A few advanced controls are available on the EX500, but not as many as on some of the competition.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
We did appreciate the ability to tweak white balance settings via the standard two-point control.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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