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Sony KDL-L5000 review: Sony KDL-L5000

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The Sony's picture quality can't quite match the best we've tested in this class, but it does come close. Its strengths include relatively deep blacks with good shadow detail; however, its issues with color reproduction and uniformity show it could definitely stand for improvement.

TV settings: Sony KDL-32L5000

Our calibration of the Sony was preceded by engaging the Cinema preset and Warm color temperature mode. Color temperature was a bit blue by default, especially in darker areas, but we were able to improve it significantly using the built-in controls. The results were among the best we've seen for an entry-level HDTV, with a relatively linear grayscale. Its gamma was off, mainly in brighter areas (2.44 overall versus the 2.2 standard), but otherwise we can't complain.

We compared the Sony to a few other entry-level LCDs we had on-hand, including the LG 32LH20, Panasonic TC-32LX1, the Samsung LN32B360, the Sharp LC-32D47U, the Toshiba 32AV502U, the Vizio VO302E, and the Westinghouse SK-32H640G. We also employed our trusty Pioneer PRO-111FD as a reference--obviously, it shouldn't be compared with any of these LCDs. Our Blu-ray of choice for most of the image quality tests in this comparison was the superb-looking "Baraka" played at 1080i (to ensure full compatibility) from our Sony PlayStation3.

Black level: The Sony was among the better sets in our lineup when it came to producing a deep shade of black. It tied with the Sharp set and fell short of the Toshiba and Samsung sets, but it surpassed the Vizio by a bit and the LG, Panasonic and Westinghouse by wider margins. The difference was most visible, as usual, in darker scenes, such as the beginning of Chapter 19 when the camera pushes toward the Varanasi sunrise--the shadowed pillars and arches in the foreground appeared relatively inky and realistic on the Sony.

Details in shadows were also relatively good, and areas like the forges and shadowed ovens in Chapter 17 appeared quite realistic compared to most of the other displays.

Color accuracy: The KDL-L5000 was a mixed bag in this area. We appreciated its relatively even grayscale, which led to relatively consistent color in all brightness areas, but nonetheless in program material many midbright areas still betrayed a hint of greenish tinge. The effect was visible in areas like the faces of the subway riders in Chapter 11 and the gray walls of the concentration camp buildings in Chapter 17. Definition in brighter areas also appeared slightly flatter than some of the other sets.

Primary and secondary colors were very good, however, as seen in the green foliage in Chapter 4 and vibrant dresses in Chapter 7, which also showed off the KDL-L5000's solid saturation. Another point in the Sony's favor: dark areas stayed away from the bluish tinge that plagues so many LCDs. Its color stayed true even in difficult black and near-black scenes, beating all of the others in our comparison.

Video processing: The Sony doesn't perform much overt processing, such as the dejudder seen on higher-end LCDs, and since it has 720p resolution our motion resolution test isn't valid. We expect the KDL-L5000 would perform about the same in that test as other 60Hz displays, and as usual, we didn't notice any motion blur in our viewing.

We appreciate the set's lack of the kinds of moire artifacts we saw in 1080i mode on the Toshiba, the Westinghouse, and the Sharp. Like the other models in our comparison, the Sony set properly deinterlaced both film- and video-based sources, according to our test.

Uniformity: Unlike most of the other small LCDs in our comparison, the KDL-L5000 portrayed a brighter spot in the upper right corner, which was visible in black areas like the letterbox bars and the eclipse in Chapter 20, for example. Off-angle, the Sony's picture was about the same as the Samsung and Toshiba, and kept its color and black level fidelity better than the other sets.

Bright lighting: Like most matte-screened LCDs, the Sony performed well under bright lights, attenuating ambient light admirably. It was no better or worse than any of the other sets in our lineup, which all have similar screens.

Standard definition: With standard-definition sources, the Sony was an average performer. It delivered every line of the DVD format, but some details in the grass and stone bridge on our test disk looked a bit softer than on the other displays. It eliminated jaggies from moving diagonal lines and a waving American flag better than many, including the Sharp, Westinghouse, and Toshiba. Its noise reduction also performed well, removing motes and video "snow" from lower quality sources. The Sony TV engaged 2:3 pull-down detection quickly and effectively.

PC: The Sony made an excellent PC monitor, albeit a relatively low-resolution one. It fully resolved 1,360x768-pixel sources via both HDMI and VGA, showing crisp text with no edge enhancement in both cases.

Before color temp (20/80) 7319/6836 Average
After color temp 6343/6403 Average
Before grayscale variation 511 Average
After grayscale variation 98 Good
Color of red (x/y) 0.633/0.331 Good
Color of green 0.281/0.604 Good
Color of blue 0.148/0.052 Good
Overscan 3.0% Average
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-L5000 series, but we did test the 32-inch model. For more information, refer to the review of the Sony KDL-32L5000.

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