Sony WEGA KV-32HV600 review: Sony WEGA KV-32HV600

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The Good Handsome design; 1080i display capability; DRC with reverse 3:2 pull-down; 16:9 Enhanced mode; Memory Stick input.

The Bad Expensive for a 32-inch set; relatively small 16:9 image.

The Bottom Line There are cheaper sets, and there are 16:9 sets, but among 4:3 direct-view HDTVs, this 32-incher sets a high standard.

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8.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8

The Sony KV-32HV600 is a Hi-Scan Trinitron WEGA TV with a 4:3 aspect ratio and 1080i HDTV capability. As the company's top-of-the-line 32-inch set, it's also the smallest Sony screen that allows progressive-scan DVD and HDTV display. A completely flat tube, numerous performance and convenience features, and a very good picture make it one of the top 32-inch TVs available, hands down. Just don't expect a TV this nice for a bargain price. The flat-tube KV-32HV600 sits inside Sony's handsome new Arc cabinet. The silver case surrounds a black interior frame, which gives a modern look but still lets the image contrast against the dark edges. Speakers built into the left and right side panels curve toward the sitting position, a design that will improve the way the sound field envelops the viewer.

The remote has a lot of functionality and can be navigated with little effort. And we love the ease of the Sony menu system; it's intuitive and direct, and setup windows don't block the screen you're trying to work on. This set is loaded with features. Let's start with the basics. It can display 1080i when mated to an outboard HDTV tuner, and it converts the less common 720p HDTV format to 1080i. For non-HDTV source material, it includes Digital Reality Creation (DRC) Multifunction. DRC converts the signal to a higher scan rate; the options are Interlaced, Progressive, or CineMotion. Interlaced converts input sources to 960i. Progressive converts them to 480p, and CineMotion converts to 480p and adds Reverse 3:2 pull-down to help eliminate artifacts created in the transfer of film to video.

Custom palette settings let you optimize the DRC processing, depending on the quality of your input, and save them in three memory slots. To look its best, a weak cable signal or videotape requires a different DRC setting than a DVD.

Video performance enhancements include three selectable color temperatures (neutral, cool, and warm) and ClearEdge scan-velocity modulation that can be set to low, high, or off. A 10-bit 3D comb filter is on hand for cleaning up composite video sources. There are four total picture presets, and each can save a set of adjustments for color, contrast, and so on. Unfortunately, the presets are not directly associated with the TV's inputs.

Like all high-end Sony 4:3 TVs, the KV-32HV600 has the 16:9 Enhanced feature. It displays the full vertical resolution of anamorphic DVD movie material, placing letterbox bars above and below the image.

A TwinView two-tuner, picture-in-picture (PIP) mode lets you view a second program in a side-by-side arrangement or make one window bigger than the other. Inputs include three composite, two S-Video (one front), two component video, and two RF. Sony also offers a DVI-HDTV input, a multipin connection that delivers encrypted, uncompressed HD video to the set. Finally, if you use Memory Stick, this set has a front input to make viewing the JPEG images from your camcorder or digital camera a breeze. We checked the color temperatures in both the pro and warm picture modes, and warm proved better, coming fairly close to the 6500 Kelvin standard. We achieved the correct range for light output before calibration. After making adjustments with the test patterns on the Video Essentials disc, we saw that the set was still oversaturating the reds somewhat. Happily, the KV-32HV600 has internal color-decoder adjustments, so the red push can be corrected by a professional calibration.

Switching to movie material, we noted that The Scorpion King provided a good color test, with an array of flesh tones and desert browns and reds. The image looked very sharp and clean, with good detail right down into the dark corners. Monsters, Inc. in the 16:9 Enhanced mode looked sharp and quite stable. Colors popped without bleeding, and Sulley's blue fur had great dimensionality.

We did notice some artifacts in the CineMotion setting, where the Reverse 3:2 pull-down was not cleaning up everything. We recommend you use a good progressive-scan DVD player for optimum performance.

Overall, the Sony KV-32HV600 performed extremely well. It looks very good at its factory settings and can look even better after a postpurchase video calibration. The only downside is that even though it's ready for HD scan rates, its 4:3 screen is not the ideal shape for HDTV or wide-screen movies--the set's 16:9 image measures only about 29 inches diagonally. Hard-core DVD aficionados will probably opt for a 30-inch wide-screen set such as the somewhat less expensive Samsung TXM3098WHF, but folks who watch more regular TV programming than DVDs will appreciate the 32HV600's substantially larger 4:3 picture.

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