Sony's extensive LCD lineup includes a range of higher-end models, but the KDL-V5100 is not among them. This is Sony's least expensive series of 2009 HDTVs to include 120Hz processing, and it lacks the interactive extras and design complexities of its step-up brethren. It does include nearly all of the picture-related control on those models, however, and its overall image quality is just as good. Naturally you'll still pay premium compared with bargain brands, but the solid performance and well-rounded, essential features of the V5100 series makes it one of Sony's most compelling values.
We actually prefer the V5100's smaller remote to the many-buttoned clicker included on Sony's higher-end models. The central cursor is plenty prominent and surrounded by four buttons that are difficult to confuse--one of which is the important "wide" key for aspect ratio control. A cluster of keys at the top of the remote can command other gear that's compatible with the HDMI-CEC control-over-HDMI scheme, but the remote can't control other devices via infrared.
Sony's relatively entry-level KDL-V5100 series exhibited very good picture quality for the price, and in some ways it bested the company's significantly more expensive, albeit feature-laden, XBR9 model (in fact, the two received the same score in this subcategory). We appreciated its relatively deep black levels and accurate color in bright areas, but wished for better color accuracy in dark scenes and improved uniformity across the screen. Sony also falls short of Samsung in its dejudder implementation.