The front of the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 has a strange matte bezel that then changes to glossy at the edge, making it look a bit like a picture frame.
Most of the ports are found on the back, towards the right when facing the back or just around the left edge when facing the front.
On the left side you'll find another grouping of ports, for easy access.
On the right side are the on-tv controls.
The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000's stand is a simple plastic slab that doesn't rotate, nothing special here.
The on tv controls are found on the right side of the television.
The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000's remote is relatively small, with large buttons and is easy to hold. Unfortunately the volume and channel buttons are placed far away from the directional pad, which is a problem.
In The Box*(6.0)*
The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 ships with a manual, remote control and batteries, not that we were expecting any extras in a lower-end HDTV like this. You do need to put together the stand and screen, but this is a relatively simple affair requiring only one person.
The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 is not a particularly attractive HDTV. We didn't like the fact that the bezel goes from matte to glossy, while the lines seem harsh. This just doesn't look like a lot of thought went into aesthetics, which probably isn't surprising for a $500 television.
It's rare for a television to come out of the box ready to give you the best picture, as such we take the time to calibrate our HDTVs before testing them. For our calibration process we use DisplayMate software, which is the same software used by many television manufacturers.
With the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 we found we needed to make only some minor adjustments from the standard Cinema mode. We turned down the picture and brightness controls a little and turned off the Noise Reduction and Cinemotion options. We also turned the sharpness down to zero.
Although our calibration settings are not perfect for every situation, they are a good place to start if you want to try and fiddle with your HDTV, and it's a lot cheaper than paying someone to come to your home and professionaly calibrate your television. You should also note that our calibration settings are focused on achieving the best picture accuracy, which means we are willing to give up things like brightness for the sake of color accuracy, for example. Our complete calibrated settings for the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 are listed below.
As with most HDTVs the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 offers several preset video modes. As we mentioned above we used the Cinema mode as the starting place for our calibration process. The KDL-32L5000 also offers a Vivid and Standard mode, below are what Sony says these modes are for.
We measured the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000's black level at 0.14 candelas per meter squared (cd/m2). This is significantly better than our average black level of 0.23 cd/m2, as of this writing. Below you can see the KDL-32L5000's black level compared to three other HDTVs.
You can see that the KDL-32L5000 holds up well, with a black level the same as the Samsung LN32A450 and significantly better than the JVC LT-32J300. It's not quite up to the standards of the Sony KDL-46W4100, but that television put up one of the best black levels we've seen from an LCD television. The KDL-32L5000 isn't the best black level we've ever seen, but it's certainly good.
The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000's peak brightness was measured at 288.84 cd/m2. This is right about average for an HDTV, and it should be plenty bright for most viewing situations. We have seen significantly better peak brightness from other HDTVs, however, as you can see below.
You'll note that the KDL-32L5000's peak brightness was about the same as the other Sony model, while the JVC and Samsung models were significantly brighter. Still, you should note that in most viewing situations you won't need as much brightness as even the KDL-32L5000 is capable of.
Contrast is the ratio of peak brightness to black level, which for the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 works out to 2063:1. This is above average and should give your eye plenty of contrast on the display. We have seen better, for example you can see below that the Sony KDL-46W4100 put up a significantly better contrast ratio, thanks to the lower black level of that HDTV. We have also seen much worse, however, as you can see from the contrast ratio of the JVC LT-32J300.
In this test we look for variation in the black level as black represents less of the display. This is important because you don't want your black level to rise significantly if there's only a small amount of black on the screen as this ruins your contrast ratio. Thankfully the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 did very well in this test, with the black level bouncing between 0.13 and 0.16 cd/m2 as the screen went from 100% black down to 5% black. What this means is that you can expect to get deep blacks even when the screen is mostly taken up by brighter colors.
This is the opposite of our tunnel contrast score, here we look at how well the peak brightness hold up as the amount of white on the display is reduced. The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 did very well in this test, with the peak brightness staying constant from 100% white to 5% white.
Here we look at how uniform the display is by looking at an all white and all black screen. The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 did a good job here, with a uniform center in both white and black screens. We did notice some dimming in the corners and along the edges of the white screen, and some more noticeable lighter areas on the black screen, but overall the performance was good.
We measured the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000's gamma at 2.83. Our ideal gamma is between 2.1 and 2.2, so the KDL-32L5000's gamma was significantly above this. What this means is the television will be more aggressive when moving from light to dark, which can obscure some details on the display. Below you can see a graph of the KDL-32L5000's gamma performance.
The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 is a 720p HDTV, meaning it displays 720 lines from top to bottom in a progressive manner. Unfortunately content comes in several different flavors, and in this section we look at how well the KDL-32L5000 handles content in different formats.
This is the format used by standard definition content, with 480 lines from top to bottom. The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 had a 3% overscan all around the edges, which means 3% of the scene is cut off at every edge. Apart from that the KDL-32L5000 did a good job with 480p content, with no problems with legibility or resolution.
1080i has 1080 lines from top to bottom, however there are two sets of 540 lines that are interlaces, which is where the 'i' comes from. 1080i content is usually what you get from broadcast HD, since only half the signal needs to be sent at once. The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 had a 2% overscan with 1080i content, so 2% of the scene is cut off at all sides. We also noticed that the legibility went down significantly, with a higher font size required before you could read text on the screen. Wa also noticed several problems with moire patterns. These are problems that appear in various patterns and are the result of a processing problem with the HDTV. Specifically we noticed several different cross-hatch patterns appear that shouldn't be there.
1080p also has 1080 lines from top to bottom, but unlike 1080i all of those lines appear at once, or progressively. We saw almost exactly the same problems with 1080p content as we had with 1080i content on the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000. There was a 2% overscan on all sides and significant problems with legibility and moire patterns. The problems we saw with both 1080i and 1080p content indicates that the KDL-32L5000 is having some obvious problems processing these signals.
All light emitting bodies give off light at a certain temperature, for example stars can range from blue to red. The same is true for an HDTV. Most important is that this color temperature stay constant across the range from light to dark. Variations in the color temperature can cause the television to cast a bluish or yellowish hue on scenes, depending on how dark or bright they are, something that you want to avoid. Below you can see the graph of the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000's color temperature across the greyscale from light to dark.
You can see that although the color temperature doesn't deviate a lot across most of the range, it does deviate enough to be visible for a significant portion of the darker end. This means that with darker scenes on the KDL-32L5000 you'll see a yellowish cast.
Here we look at the response of red green and blue from the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000. These three colors are important because all colors on the television are created by mixing these three together. Below you can see the color curves for each graphed against intensity, which can be thought of as brightness.
Two things that we look for are smooth, slightly concave curves and a steady increase all the way from left to right. This is exactly what we see from the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000, with no significant plateauing that we see from some HDTVs. This means that you will continue to see visible changes in color all the way from the darkest to the brightest versions of these colors.
We also look for artifacts in photos caused by difficulty dealing with colors. The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 showed no significant problems here, with only some minor false contouring when making fine gradiations.
Every television must meet a standard for how colors are displayed on the screen. This color gamut, which can be thought of as a map of colors, are suposed to ensure that the red you see in a particular movie is the same on every television. The international standard that HDTVs must match is known as Rec.709. In this test we look at the KDL-32L5000's color gamut to see how well it matches this standard. Below you can see a graph of the standard against the KDL-32L5000's performance.
You can see that the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 does a reasonable job matching the standard in reds and blues, but shows some obvious error in the greens. This is actually significantly better than most HDTVs, this is an area where televisions don't generally perform well. As such the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000's score is actually above average. For those who are geeky enough to care the exact measured color coordinates can be found in the table below.
The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 did not do a very good job with motion smoothness. We noticed significant blurring in faces, with details very difficult to make out with a moving face. We also noticed significant blurring with moving objects. The KDL-32L5000 is an entry-level HDTV that lacks the 120Hz refresh rate that more expensive HDTVs use to reduce motion blur, so it's not surprising to see these results.
We saw significant artifacting with moving objects on the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000. Artficats are things that appear that should not be there. With the KDL-32L5000 we saw bright areas on moving objects and a very significant rolling shutter effect. The latter was even more pronounced when viewing 1080i content, which is the standard of HD that is used by broadcasters.
3:2 Pulldown & 24fps*(7.50)*
Traditionally movies are filmed at 24 frames per second (fps). Here we look at how well the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 handles such content. First off the KDL-32L5000 is able to handle native 24fps content from a DVD or Blu-Ray player. Movies that come in over broadcast or cable connections don't come in at 24fps, as such HDTVs need to go through a process called 3:2 pulldown to convert the content so it looks right. The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 did a decent job of doing this processing, with only some minor problems appearing in our test patterns. In particular we noticed some slight flickering in certain patterns and a minor crawling effect. Neither of these should significantly upset your viewing experience.
We measured the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000's effective viewing angle at 26 degrees from center, for a total viewing angle of 52 degrees. What this means is that the contrast ratio for the television fell below 50% at 26 degrees off center. We also looked at how well colors held up across viewing angles, and were generally pleased as we noticed no significant solarization fading of colors.
Still, the KDL-32L5000's viewing angle isn't particularly good, the average viewing angle for HDTVs is almost 40 degrees off center. It isn't the worst we've seen either. For example the Samsung LN32A450 had a viewing angle of only 19 degrees, while the Sony KDL-46W4100's viewing angle was a very poor 15 degrees.
The practical result for viewers is that this HDTV isn't a good choice for a room where you're going to want to be able to view it from oblique angles. If you're sitting directly in front of it, or just off center, you'll be ok. Beyond that you'll get a washed out picture.
The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 has a very reflective display that does not do a good job of diffusing light. The small display size exacerbates this problem, as light shined on the screen creates an obvious halo that takes up a large portion of the display and is very distracting. This is particularly noticeable when watching content that has dark scenes. We recommend you be very careful about where you place lighting in relation to the KDL-32L5000.
As with most HDTVs the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 offers a variety of different video processing options. These are supposed to address specific situations you might face by introducing new picture processing algorithms. Generally we turn these features off when we calibrate as they tend to do more harm than good, but in this section we look at each one to see if actually does anything, often they do not. As you can see below the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 offers two options, and both of them actually did some good.
Ergonomics & Durability*(6.9)*
The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000's remote is identical to the one we saw on the Sony KDL-52V5100. This is generally good as the remote is well designed. It's not too large or heavy, with a textured back that lets you hold onto it better and a comfortable indentation for your forefinger on the back when you hold it with your thumb on the directional pad. The balance is good, thanks to the light weight, so as you shift your hand along it's length you don't feel unbalanced at any point. The buttons are soft plastic with good key travel, although the tactile feedback could have been better. One big drawback is that there's no backlight on the remote, so if you're watching in the dark you better know exactly where the buttons you want are.
Button Layout & Use*(5.5)*
Unfortunately the button layout on the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000's remote is not as good as it's overall design. The biggest problems is that the directional pad is separated from the volume and channel buttons by almost half the length of the remote. This requires you to shift your hand down in order to access these important buttons, which is very annoying. The buttons are large and well-labeled, however, and we were able to control the HDTV from a good range of angles.
Programming & Flexibility*(1.0)*
The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 does not work as a universal remote, however it does support Sony's proprietary Bravia Sync technology. This allows you to use the remote to control other Sony devices, which is great if you happen to own a Sony-only home theatre setup. For most people, however, this isn't very convenient, as such we're only awarding a point for this functionality.
The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 has ports on both the left side of the television and on the back just around the left side. On the back of the television you will two HDMI ports, along with an analog audio input dedicated to the HDMI ports. Above these you will find a VGA input for a computer, along with a 3.5mm input for computer audio. There are also two Component video inputs, each with associated analog audio inputs, one of which also does double duty as a second composite input if you wish. Finally you'll find the antenna/cable RF input, which supports both analog and digital signals.
On the left side you will find another HDMI port, S-video port and composite video input with associated analog audio input.
Overall the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 offers an excellent selection of input ports, especially for an entry-level HDTV. Theres a good mix of modern HDMI ports and legacy Composite and Component inputs, and you should find all the connections you need for an extensive home theatre setup.
As is typical the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 offers two output ports, both found on the back. First up is a digital audio output, and just below that you'll find an analog audio out.
The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 doesn't offer any additional connectivity options.
Unlike more expensive HDTVs the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 doesn't offer any media connectivity options like a memory card reader or USB port.
The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000's ports are very well placed. The ports on the left side are easy to reach, and even the ones on the back are placed just around the left side so you don't have to reach all the way to the middle of the back to get at connections. Unfortunately the HDTV doesn't have a swiveling base for easier access, but on the other hand the television is small enough that you can easily move it to access ports.
The audio quality from the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000's built-in speakers was unimpressive. The audio was clear, conversation was easy to understand for example. Unfortunately the audio was also very flat, when watching our standard movie scene big sounds just didn't have the impact we've seen on other HDTVs. Unlike most televisions the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 also lacks a simulated surround sound feature, although these generally don't do a great job so we're not to concerned about the lack. The bottom line is that if you want good audio quality you should go out and purchase even a cheap set of surround sound speakers.
The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000's menu interface doesn't use the fancy crossbar interface that we see on higher-end Sony HDTVs, for which we can only be thankful. Instead you have a simple tabbed interface, with five top level menus arrayed on the left side, and options for each appearing to the right. The top-level menus are picture, sound, screen, channel, parental lock and setup, which is fairly self-explanatory. Sub menus and adjustments cause the larger menu to dissapear and give you just a small version at the lower right hand corner, which lets you see what the effect of the adjustment is on the picture, a nice touch.
The picture menu offers all the basics, including picture, brightness, color temperature and sharpness. There's also and advanced settings menu with options for white balance that allow you to adjust gain and bias for red, green and blue, a nice feature for those who like to fine tune their picture. It lacks the gamma controls that we see on some higher-end HDTVs, however.
Overall the menu system is simple and easy to navigate. Our biggest complaint is that there is no on-screen explanation for the items you have selected, so you'll need the manual to figure out what some of the esoteric options do. That's a small price to pay for the improved usability over the other Sony HDTV menus we've seen, however.
The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000's manual does a good job. It's a simple paper booklet with both a table of contents in the front and an index in the back. There are tabs along the edge of the pages to help you quickly flip through and find the section you're looking through, and the section headers are large and easy to find as well. We would have liked to see a bit larger font used, but it's not as small as some manuals we've seen. The diagrams and photos are easy to read, although they too could have been a bit larger.
The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 is a 720p HDTV, which means it isn't able to display every pixel of the highest quality HD content available, it does still qualify as a high definition HDTV, however. It's also able to play back higher quality 1080i/p content by downscaling it to fit on the display. It's also able to play back standard definition content. The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 does support 24fps content, but it doesn't support a wider color gamut as you see on some higher-end Sony televisions.
The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 doesn't have any way to play back photos without connecting another device.
Music & Video Playback*(0.0)*
As with photos the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 lacks any media connectivity features to play back music or video.
The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 cannot connect directly to the internet for streaming media playback.
The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 does not have any additional built-in media features like a DVD or Blu-Ray player.
The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 does a very good job with power consumption, drawing an average of 62.6 Watts in our testing. This power draw was with the backlight turned down to a level of 6, and otherwise all settings in our calibrated positions. We turn the backlight down because we try and run every HDTV with a screen brightness of 200 cd/m2, so that our results are comparable. Under these conditions, and with average TV usage, the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 would cost only $12.22 per year to operate. Below are our three testing scenarios with power draw and cost per year.
The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000's performance in this test was exemplarary, even for a 32-inch HDTV, which you would obviously expect to draw less power than it's larger counterparts. You can see below that the KDL-32L5000 put up the best annual cost amongst our comparison HDTVs, including two other 32-inch models.
The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 is available for $550, while the JVC LT-32J300 is available for around $600, so the price difference between the two isn't huge. Both are 32-inch LCD televisions and are the low end of their manufacturer's lineups. As you might expect there are tradeoffs for both televisions, which you can see in more detail below. Frankly this is a hard choice as the JVC has slightly better performance overall, but the Sony far outstrips it in terms of black levels and contrast ratio. On the other hand the JVC also supports full 1080p high definition, while the Sony has a lower resolution display. This one is a push, depending on what's more important to you, resolution or contrast ratio.
Blacks & Whites
The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 is the clear winner in this area, with a much better black level that produces a huge difference in contrast ratio, despite the JVC LT-32J300's better peak brightness.
This is a mixed bag. The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 had slightly worse color temperature performance, but it produces more accurate colors than the JVC LT-32J300 and the color gamut more closely matches the international standard.
This is a clear win for the JVC LT-32J300, as it did a better job with both motion blur and motion artifacting. In particular the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 had a very annoying rolling shutter effect that was much less of an issue on the JVC model.
The Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 had a slightly better viewing angle, although neither was a big winner here. The JVC did have a much less reflective display, however.
The two models offer almost identical connectivity options, with the big difference being the addition of USB port on the JVC LT-32J300, which an be used for viewing photos but not music or videos.
The JVC LT-32J300 has a couple of additional benefits over the KDL-32L5000. We mentioned the improved resolution above, with the LT-32J300 having a full 1920 x 1080 resolution while the KDL-32L5000 has a lower resolution of 1366 x 768. The JVC also has better speakers built in so if you're not willing to spend money on extra speakers that might be a consideration.
The Samsung LN32A450 is a 32-inch LCD that has the same 720p resolution as the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000. The LN32A450 matches or exceeds the KDL-32L5000's performance almost across the board, and at a price only $50 above the Sony we have to consider it the better value. It is an older model, however, so it may not be available for much longer.
Blacks & Whites
Both televisions did very well in this area, with identical black levels and very similar contrast ratios. This shouldn't be an area of concern for either HDTV. We do need to mention that the Samsung LN32A450's gamma curve more closely matched our ideal, which means it makes smoother transitions from dark to light.
The Samsung LN32A450 did significantly better in color temperature stability, which means you won't have any worries about a blue or yellow cast to your content, something that we can't say about the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000. Both televisions produced accurate colors, with a slight edge to the Samsung, while the KDL-32L5000 did slightly better matching the industry standard color gamut, although neither was a paragon.
Both televisions struggled in this area, not surprising for entry-level HDTVs. We noticed significant motion blur on both the Samsung LN32A450 and the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000. The LN32A450 did do significantly better with motion artifacting, but better isn't necessarily good and it remains below average in this area.
Both televisions performed poorly in this area, with very narrow viewing angles and reflective displays, although the Samsung LN32A450 did perform a bit better in the latter.
There are no huge differences here as both televisions sport 3 HDMI ports and stay similar all the way down. The Samsung LN32A450 does offer a 3.5mm headphone jack, which the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 lacks.
We found the audio quality on the Samsung LN32A450 to be significantly better than the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000's.
The Sony KDL-46W4100 is a significant step up from the KDL-32L5000 in a variety of ways. First of all you have a much larger display at 46 inches versus 32 inches and also a higher resolution, 1080p versus 720p. You also have better black and contrast performance and much better motion performance. Surprisingly, however, the connectivity features of the two HDTVs are very similar. You will pay extra for those upgrades, however, as the Sony KDL-46W4100 retails for around $1,300, more than twice the KDL-32L5000's price of $550. Which one is the better value really depends on how big an HDTV you want.
Blacks & Whites
Both HDTVs do well in this area, but the Sony KDL-46W4100 does enough better to make a significant difference. The big change is a much lower black level, which also produces a wider contrast ratio than the KDL-32L5000.
Although the Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000's performance in this area was reasonable, the Sony KDL-46W4100 again one up's it with a rock solid color temperature and better color accuracty, although it's color gamut was a bit worse.
You really see the improvement in motion that can come from a 120Hz refresh rate here as the Sony KDL-46W4100 blew away the KDL-32L5000 in both motion blur and artifacting. If you watch a lot of action movies picking up a television with 120Hz refresh rate like the KDL-46W4100 makes a big difference.
Both televisions performed poorly here, but the Sony KDL-46W4100 performed particularly poorly. You really need to be sitting right in front of the KDL-46W4100 as it has a viewing angle of only 15 degrees from center, while the KDL-32L5000's viewing angle is over 10 degrees wider.
Given that the Sony KDL-46W4100 is more than twice the price of the KDL-32L5000 we're surprised to see that the connectivity features are very similar, although you do get an extra HDMI port and an extra composite input, which is important if you have a lot of devices in your home theatre setup.
Audio quality on the Sony KDL-46W4100 was significantly better than the KDL-32L5000.
Sony's L5000/L4000 series is at the low end of their lineup, and you can see this from the sizes offered as the 32-inch KDL-32L5000 is the largest of the three televisions offered, with a 26 and 22 inch option also available. All three models offer 3 HDMI inputs and 720p resolution.
Meet the tester
Alex Mekelburg is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.
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