Making matters worse is the way that black levels reduce further if you're sat at any sort of angle to the TV. Also, the on-board dynamic contrast system is slightly hyperactive, causing visible jumps in the image's overall brightness.
The KDL-37S5500's pictures also suffer due to the lack of 100Hz processing. Fast-moving objects look slightly blurred and smeary.
On the upside, when not troubled by motion blur, high-definition pictures look quite crisp, while standard-definition pictures are upscaled to the screen's 1080p resolution adroitly by the Bravia Engine 2 system, so that they look sharper without suffering badly from noise.
Colours are richly saturated too, and mostly natural in tone. Plus, for all our concerns about the KDL-37S5500's black levels, there's no major evidence of Sony's frequent backlight-inconsistency issue, whereby some parts of the picture look brighter than others.
It's back to bad news with the KDL-37S5500's audio, though. The built-in speakers are consistently incompetent with any sort of explosion or high-octane action scene, succumbing to humming and vibrational interference. The best you can say about the KDL-37S5500's sound is that it's solid enough with undemanding daytime TV fare, such as Cash in the Attic or the diabolically horrendous Loose Women.
Sadly, the Bravia KDL-37S5500 isn't the answer to cash-strapped Sony fans' prayers. It's not an unmitigated disaster, but its performance falls so far short of that of Sony's V5500 range that you'd be well advised to spend an extra £100 or so and go for a V-series model instead.
Edited by Charles Kloet