If you're considering a smaller TV we believe there's little reason to get one with an LED backlight or 1080p resolution. Sony's KDL-BX300 series is the company's least expensive for 2010, and it offers neither feature. It also lacks the USB port of the Samsung LN32C350 we compared it with, but otherwise their feature sets and picture quality are nearly a match--although we believe the Sony has a slight edge in the latter category. We can't tell you whether the BX300 is substantially better than even cheaper off-brand sets, but if you're looking for a solid name-brand bedroom TV, the BX300 qualifies.
Series information: We performed a hands-on evaluation of the 32-inch KDL-32BX300, but this review also applies to the smaller 22-inch KDL-22BX300. The two have identical specs and should provide very similar picture quality.
|Sony KDL-22BX300||22 inches|
|Sony KDL-32BX300 (reviewed)||32 inches|
|Panel depth||3.7 inches||Bezel width||2 inches|
|Single-plane face||No||Swivel stand||No|
Sony's little KDL-BX300 TV is one of the more stylish, albeit understated, lower-end LCDs you'll see. It has a basic, squared-off look with little adornment to the glossy black frame, which sits relatively low atop the matching stand. Sony hid the speakers, making the panel relatively thick.
|Remote size (LxW)||8.7x2 inches||Remote screen||N/A|
|Total keys||41||Backlit keys||0|
|Other IR devices controlled||No||RF control of TV||No|
|Shortcut menu||Yes||Onscreen explanations||No|
Again the BX300 goes a cut above most entry-level models, this time with its solid remote. The medium-size clicker can control other HDMI-CEC-compatible gear, but not via infrared. Its ergonomics are excellent, centered around the big thumbpad, and the overall feel is a cut above the Samsung LNC350 series.
Sony's menus aren't quite as extensive as Samsung's, but very good for a basic TV. You have to scroll a lot in the main picture menu, but on the other hand we liked that the full-screen menu makes many functions visible at once. A convenient Tools menu provides some shortcuts, but it's nearly as long as the main menu. We liked the ability to mark certain inputs as favorites, and, if you have an antenna or direct cable connection, to also mark favorite channels.
|Display technology||LCD||LED backlight||N/A|
|3D compatible||No||3D glasses included||N/A|
|Screen finish||Matte||Refresh rate(s)||60Hz|
|Dejudder (smooth) processing||No||1080p/24-compatible||Yes|
|Internet connection||No||Wireless HDMI/AV connection||No|
As an entry-level TV the Sony offers the minimum of extras. It has a native resolution of 720p, and at this screen size there's little reason for more pixels, aside from utility as a PC monitor. Its lack of an LED backlight isn't much of a hindrance in our view either; power use for this small TV is relatively minor anyway.
|Adjustable picture modes||9||Independent memories per input||Yes|
|Dejudder presets||0||Fine dejudder control||N/A|
|Aspect ratio modes -- HD||3||Aspect ratio modes -- SD||4|
|Color temperature presets||4||Fine color temperature control||2 points|
|Gamma presets||7||Color management system||No|
There's little to complain about here. Between the extensive number of picture modes (nine out of ten of which are adjustable and independent per input, the tenth being Auto) and solid selection of advanced settings, including fine color temperature, tweakers should find everything they need to adjust the Sony's picture. We liked the big Theater button on the remote, which puts the TV into Cinema mode without having to dive into the menus. We do wish the Scene and General presets were integrated into one menu, as opposed to broken out somewhat arbitrarily, but that's not a big deal.
|Power saver mode||Yes||Ambient light sensor||No|
|Picture-in-picture||No||Onscreen user manual||No|
Sony's Eco menu allows three levels of Energy Saving, each of which limits the backlight's maximum level. The Picture Off mode is a nice touch, as are a pair of autoshutoff doodads, although we'd like to see an ambient light sensor too.
|HDMI inputs||2 back||Component video inputs||2 back|
|Composite video input(s)||1 back (shared)||S-video input(s)||0|
|VGA-style PC input(s)||1||RF input(s)||1|
|AV output(s)||1 audio only||Digital audio output||1 optical|
|USB port||1 back (service only)||Ethernet (LAN) port||No|
A pair of HDMI inputs is standard for this level, and the lack of front or side-panel jacks isn't unusual either. We appreciate the second component video input, especially since one is shared with composite video. The USB port is for service updates only, not for any digital media.
Overall we found the Sony plenty "good enough" for an entry-level TV, with no game-breaking defects and a couple of surprisingly good qualities, namely bright-area color accuracy and screen uniformity. The latter puts it above the Samsung C350 in our book, although not far enough to break the numeric tie between the two in this subcategory. We can't speculate as to how the BX300 compares with even less expensive no-name models, unfortunately, but on its own merits it's a fine entry-level TV.
Sony's little TV offers a fairly accurate picture in the Cinema setting, although its average gamma was a bit dark (2.38) and its light output a bit high at 51 ftl. Our calibration modified the former number to an even 2.2--excellent--and the latter to our target of 40. No controls were available to adjust the imperfect green and magenta, however. For our image quality tests we checked out "I Am Legend" on Blu-ray.
Black level: The Sony showed a slightly lighter shade of black than the Samsung B350, but neither was very dark, as expected, compared with larger, higher-end models like the Samsung C630. We noticed the difference in areas like the letterbox bars and black areas from Chapter 3 and 4, for example, when Neville shutters his house for the night. On the other hand, details in shadows were solid, showing up better than on the C630 in areas like his pants and gun as he curls up in the bathtub.
Color accuracy: Although neither smaller TV could touch the Samsung C630 in this area, the Sony appeared a bit more accurate in bright areas than the Samsung C350, and very good overall in terms of grayscale accuracy. We appreciated its color in skin tones, for example, like the face of Ethan in the kitchen in Chapter 18; it appeared neither too pale nor too flushed, and closer to our reference than on the Samsung.
One quibble was the slightly bluish green, visible for example in the grass of the plants in Chapter 2. The Sony's worst problem, however, was the extremely blue tint to black and near-black areas, which was much more evident than on the Samsung C350.
Video processing: We were surprised when this little TV handled 1080p/24 sources properly, delivering the proper cadence in our test with the helicopter flyover from Chapter 7. Motion resolution was what we'd expect for a 60Hz TV, coming in between 300 and 400 lines. The set did properly deinterlace 1080i film- and video-based content.
Uniformity: Unlike the Samsung 32-incher, the Sony's screen was more uniform overall, with no overly bright corners. Off-angle the image washed out more quickly than on the larger Samsung, and about the same as the 32-incher, but wasn't terrible for an entry-level LCD.
Bright lighting: Like most low-buck LCDs the KDL-32BX300 performed very well in bright lighting thanks to its matte screen, reducing the visibility of reflections and preserving black levels relatively well. It matched the Samsung C350 in this area.
Standard definition: With standard-def sources the TV performed well. It delivered every line of the DVD format and details were visibly sharper than on the Samsung. Jaggies in moving lines were kept to a minimum, and noise reduction functioned well. In CineMotion's Auto setting the set engaged 2:3 pull-down effectively.
PC: With both VGA and HDMI PC sources the TV did well, resolving every line of 1360x768 with minimal edge enhancement and no overscan. Of course a 1080p TV could provide more detail, but given the set's native resolution, PC performance was fine.
|Before color temp (20/80)||6419/6418||Good|
|After color temp||6499/6388||Good|
|Before grayscale variation||103||Good|
|After grayscale variation||112||Average|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.64/0.327||Good|
|Color of green||0.266/0.585||Average|
|Color of blue||0.147/0.06||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Y||Good|
|480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps||Pass||Good|
|1080i video resolution||Pass||Good|
|1080i film resolution||Pass||Good|
Power consumption: We did not test the power consumption of this size in the Sony KDL-BX300 series, but we did test the 32-inch model. For more information, refer to the review of the Sony KDL-32BX300.
Read more about how we test TVs.