Coloured TVs are in, and so if the basic black on offer doesn't suit you then the KDL32V4000 is also available in a choice of red or white. Colour options aside, however, the V series is cosmetically identical to the W series we've seen previously. This means you get a glossy finish, with a — to our eyes at least — strange-looking perspex hole at the bottom. It looks kind of like a shower screen, but the only thing you can see behind it is the skinny stand and maybe a couple of cords.
After sticking with the same remote control design for at least the last three years, it was refreshing to see that the company has decided on a new model with this range. It's simpler than previous models, with big, friendly number buttons, but some functionality is lost. Especially now that most functions require use of the new "Home" button to access.
The V4000's main feature as a 32-inch television is its ability to display a native 1920x1080 image. Of course, depending on the size of your living space this may or may not be useful. Unless you're sitting right on top of the screen we dare anyone to point out the differences between a 720p and a 1080p image — provided the unit uses a good scaler, of course.
Apart from the resolution, much of the rest of the "Features" list appears to be window dressing, unfortunately. We appreciated the XMB (Xross Media Bar) on the PlayStation 3, and on the V4000 it makes things easier to use than most TV menus. However, we dispute the manufacturer's claim that it features "3D graphics" — this ain't no Second Life, it's 2D kids!
The TV will also accept the company's proprietary Digital Media Port for people who want to pony up more money for an iPod dock that plays through their TV.
As a performer, the V4000 was a mixed bag. In fact, it reminded us in a lot of ways of the KDL46W3100 we saw last year. Black levels are even better this time around, and colour — one of Sony's strengths — is vivid though not gaudy. As a full-high def picture, static scenes are gorgeous, with lots of detail. It's only when things start moving that the trouble starts.
Like the old W series, it's on free-to-air where most of the problems lie. We had real trouble getting a coherent picture out of that old daytime chestnut, M*A*S*H*. The picture smeared terribly, with lots of mosquito noise and a lack of image depth. Even HD content suffered from occasional smearing, and no tweaking of the noise reduction controls could eliminate it. This ghosting problem also carried over to Blu-ray viewing, though more occasional — eg, while watching MI3 there was a faint trace of motion blur during the bridge scene.
But the problems didn't end there, all of the picture presets had their own issues. For example, "Standard" mode was over-sharpened which emphasised noise, while Cinema mode was too dark as the backlight was turned all the way down, making the picture appear soft. Vivid, of course, was as obnoxious as usual.
But it wasn't all bad news, and with the right settings this television can shine. Turn the backlight up a little and the Cinema mode is perfectly watchable, with good colours and detail. Though we had some problems with some Blu-ray replay, the new Batman Begins disc looked strikingly good. Black levels and detail were spot-on.
Where we had intermittent issues with FTA and Blu-ray, there were no such problems with DVD. The Kong's Last Stand scene atop the Empire State looked fantastic, and there was very little judder as the biplanes circle around the building for the first time.
Sound is excellent, too, and in fact it's the best speaker system we've heard in a while. Voices are a little throaty but bass is full and treble has bite. It certainly shows invisible speaker systems what for.
While there's definitely attention to detail in the design of this unit sometimes it goes a little far: for instance, the mute icon moves around screen to prevent burn-in even. However, this is a little unnecessary as LCDs don't suffer from this problem, and Sony hasn't even produced a plasma that might need this feature in years.
If you're a productivity fiend, or even just addicted to gossip sites, then the TVs computer capabilities will be right up your alley. Using an HDMI connector, we found text in particular to be ultra-sharp at the default 1920x1080. We didn't even have to play with overscan or other options due to the TV's true 1:1 mapping.