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Sony KLV-21SG2 review: Sony KLV-21SG2

The KLV-21SG2 isn't a wide-screen display, but this 21-inch LCD flat panel has a higher native resolution than many of its similarly sized brethren, and it can even accept HD signals. Read the review to get the full skinny.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Headphones, Bluetooth speakers, mobile accessories, Apple, Sony, Bose, e-readers, Amazon, glasses, ski gear, iPhone cases, gaming accessories, sports tech, portable audio, interviews, audiophile gear, PC speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
3 min read
Sony's 21-inch WEGA LCD TV
Non-wide-screen 20-inch LCD TVs are among the more popular models on the market because they're relatively inexpensive and can display a full 20-inch standard-definition image with no nasty black bars on either side. Their big drawback is that most budget 20-inchers offer only 640x480 resolution and can't accept an HDTV signal. That means that in a few years, when you may want to go the HDTV route, you'll be out of luck.

Sony's answer to those looking for a transition LCD TV is its 21-inch KLV-21SG2, a higher-resolution 4:3 set that can accept a high-def feed and display it in letterbox format on the set's 1,024x768 (XGA)-resolution screen. That's a nice option, but as one might expect, you'll have to pay extra for that versatility; this model has a list price of $1,699.


Sony KLV-21SG2

The Good

Sleek design; high resolution; relatively accurate color decoding; anamorphic squeeze.

The Bad

No PC connectivity or DVI input; fairly expensive; so-so black-level performance.

The Bottom Line

This non-wide-screen 21-inch LCD is designed to display standard-definition TV, but it can also accept high-def, giving it some futureproofing.

Cosmetically, the Sony KLV-21SG2 does look more high-end than your average 4:3 LCD, with a brushed-aluminum bezel on the top and the bottom of the screen. Like most other LCD TVs, it comes equipped with its own tilt/swivel stand. The included remote is elegant and simple to use. For better or worse, there's no built-in handle on the back to make toting the 23.15-pound set from room to room easier. Integrated (nonremovable) speakers adorn the sides of the KLV-21SG2's screen, and an optional wall-mount unit, the SU-W210, is available.

The TV's connectivity options are adequate for this type of set, yet limited in comparison to many we've seen. You get one set of component-video connections and two S-Video inputs (one on the rear, one on the side), but any sort of computer connectivity is missing. There's also no digital input (DVI or HDMI), so if you do hook HD up to this TV, you'll have to relegate DVD to an S-Video input. For those who have a Sony digital camera, the company includes a Memory Stick slot that allows you to display your photos on the TV.

Convenience features include a robust suite of picture-setting controls and the standard parental-control and closed-caption options. You can choose from three preset program palettes (Vivid, Standard, and Pro) and three preset color temperatures (Cool, Neutral, and Warm). For movies, we found that the best preset was the Pro setting with a Warm color temperature.

We also appreciated the vertical-compression feature, which enables the set to take advantage of its high resolution and display all the detail of anamorphic "enhanced for wide-screen" DVDs. Plenty of detail was evident during our screening of X-Men, but other aspects of image quality were less ideal. In the dark concentration-camp scene at the beginning, we noticed some light leakage along the top of the screen, and the depth of the blacks wasn't very good (the black was about as dark as that on the Dell W2600). On the plus side, the image appeared crisp and clean, without much false contouring or video noise. The following scene in Rogue's house helped showcase the set's relatively accurate levels of red; Rogue's skin appeared less ruddy than on the Dell, though still not as accurate as on the Sony KD-34XBR960.

HDTV looked highly detailed on the small screen, thanks again to the SG2's high native resolution. Compared to the Dell, however, we did notice more crawling dots of video noise in one overhead shot of an Arctic ice field, and we saw fewer fine details, such as clearly defined smaller rocks in a streambed, on the less expensive Sony.

Summing up, if you're looking for a small flat-panel set that will be good for viewing standard-definition TV but also has the ability to display HDTV when you decide to upgrade, the Sony KLV-21SG2 is a reasonable option. Just remember that the HD image will be about only the equivalent of what an 18-inch wide-screen TV produces. If you're not so interested in HD on a screen this small, the Sharp LC-20B4U-S is a good alternative.

Before color temp (30/100) 7,355/7,963K Poor
After color temp N/A N/A
Before grayscale variation +/- 1,291K Poor
After grayscale variation N/A N/A
Overscan 5% Average
Color decoder error: red +5% Good
Color decoder error: green -20% Poor
DC restoration Gray pattern stable Average
2:3 pull-down, 24fps Y Good
Defeatable edge enhancement N Poor

Sony KLV-21SG2

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 7