Tailor-made for the kitchen table or a bedroom dresser, Sony's 21-inch KLV-21SR2 ($1,500 list) boasts a sleek design, an above-average picture, and an anamorphic squeeze mode for 16:9 DVDs. Since this Sony's screen has a 4:3 aspect ratio, however, it's better suited for regular TV; DVD aficionados will want a 16:9 screen. The KLV-21SR2 has good looks and a sharp picture, but since it lacks the ability to display computer or high-definition signals, its price does seem a bit steep compared to that of lower-resolution 20-inch models such as the Sharp LC 20B4U-S and the Samsung LTP2045.
The Sony KLV-21SR2's sleek, silver plastic frame flaunts a Sony badge and a fine-mesh speaker grille below the screen. A column of buttons along the right side of the set (hidden from view by the lip of the display's face) let you power up the LCD, change channels, adjust the volume, and access the menu. On the left side, there's a 1/8-inch headphone jack.
You can hang the nearly five-inch-deep, 20-pound KLV-21SR2 from a wall with the optional bracket ($349) or set it upon the included solid round base. The removable back panel is designed to hide the tangle of A/V cables, although in practice we couldn't completely fit our component cable trunk into the tight space behind the set, leaving the back panel slightly ajar. Thick, Monster-style interconnects defeat the set's slick cable-management system.
The nonbacklit remote can control your cable box, your DVD, or your VCR. We like the large volume and channel rockers toward the bottom of the wand, but the crucial TV/Video toggle is lost in a cluster of buttons below the menu control.
While this 21-inch LCD has a native resolution of 1,280x768--potentially enough pixels to convey lots of high-def detail--it will accept only standard-definition 480i and 480p signals. HDTV fans and those who want their LCD TV to double as a computer monitor should look for another set. Sony's step-up , for example, can handle high-def.
Surprisingly, the KLV-21SR2 lacks picture-in-picture, although you can preview favorite channels in an inset window, freeze the main image (handy for when you need to jot down the 800 number for the latest Ginsu knives), and punch up the audio with a simulated surround-sound mode. While you can't actually save picture settings for each input, you can tweak the settings for the set's three picture presets (Vivid, Standard, and Pro), then assign them to any of the three inputs. There's also an anamorphic squeeze mode for use with enhanced-for-wide-screen DVDs--a great addition that allowed us to enjoy full-resolution wide-screen images on this 4:3 set.
Hidden behind that removable panel is a decent set of connections, including a component-video input, two composite inputs, two S-Video inputs, a VHF/UHF connector, two audio-ins, and a fixed/variable audio out.
The KLV-21SR2 racked up some decent results in our Labs tests and will be perfectly serviceable for everyday viewing. The worst issue was the amount of red push (see the geek box for more), which isn't unusual with Sony TVs. We were able to improve the picture considerably after switching to the Warm color temperature setting and tweaking the brightness, contrast, and color settings, although we couldn't completely remove the reddish tinge from skin tones.
The set's 2:3 pull-down detection performed well, rendering the tricky bridges and canoes from the opening scene of Star Trek: Insurrection without any jagged edges. We were also impressed by the set's ability to display black. For instance, the star fields during the asteroid belt chase in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones looked suitably dark compared to those types of scenes on other flat-panel LCDs we've tested (though certainly not as deep as on a good DLP, plasma, or CRT set). We saw a fair amount of shadow detail during the dark, foggy scenes in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, although we detected traces of false contouring.
The KLV-21SR2's anamorphic squeeze mode and high resolution preserved all of the sharpness of DVDs, whereas 20-inch 640x480 LCDs cannot. That extra sharpness and high style may be worth the premium to some folks but not to people who just want a flat-screen 20-something-inch television.
|Before color temp (20/80)||7,915/8,170K||Average|
|After color temp||N/A|
|Before grayscale variation||+/- 1,344K||Poor|
|After grayscale variation||N/A|
|Color decoder error: red||15%||Poor|
|Color decoder error: green||0%||Good|
|DC restoration||Gray patterns stable||Average|
|2:3 pull-down, 24fps||Y||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Y||Good|
Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.