The Sony brand commands a fair bit of premium when it comes to its displays. This is mostly for a good reason too, because its offerings are known to deliver that extra edge in terms of engineering and therefore, quality and performance as well. The BRAVIA KDL-W650A aims to achieve the same. This 32" full HD LED-backlit LCD incorporating smart TV features is priced at Rs 45,000, which is about 2.5 grand dearer than the LG 32LS5700 and a grand more than the Samsung UA32ES5600R—both of which offer a similar set of features. In fact, for the same amount of money you can get the LG 32LA6130, which incorporates all these bells and whistles while also adding 3D functionality. Is it really worth the premium or would you be better off with LG's 3D-capable smart TV alternative instead? Well, that's what we're here to figure out.
Aesthetics and build quality
The TV looks gorgeous with its flat and minimalistic brushed metal bezel. The huge chromed plastic block with a sizeable Sony logo and the white status LED light at bottom may seem uncharacteristic, but it goes well with the delicate looking stand, which is also chromed all the way. The stand is surprisingly sturdy and wobble resistant than TVs that are dearer by a whole digit. Build quality is top notch as expected, which can be seen in its blend of high quality metal and plastics all around. This is pretty much evident from the lack of backlight bleed, which is a sign of good panel/bevel tolerances and quality backlight diffuser construction. The screen itself is glossy to allow smoother and lively colours, while also incorporating anti-glare properties that can let you get away with stronger ambient lighting.
The TV looks quite impressive
Remote control and connectivity
The remote control may look cluttered, but it's at least neatly segregated into zones and includes buttons of different shapes, sizes and orientation to make operation quick and intuitive even in a dark room. No, it isn't backlit though. The KDL-W650A hugely disappoints on the connectivity front. You just get two HDMI ports and one each of USB, composite, component and digital as well as analogue audio outputs. This can be a deal breaker for those who want to, say, connect more than just their HDTV set-top boxes and DVD/Blu-ray players. Unfortunately, that's almost all of those who would want to spend Rs 45,000 on a TV.
Performance: Out of the box
Having said that, the TV's raison d'être isn't supposed to be such bells and whistles. What one expects from such TV is a performance that stands out among its 32" LED-backlit peers. This is a layman-friendly TV that looks good right out of the box. After quickly turning off all the wanton image enhancements, I didn't even have to adjust the brightness, colour and contrast settings to get the desired image quality. The best part is that the TV impressed me thoroughly in my display test suite without calibration. The black levels and white saturation as well as gradient swatches and gamma levels were spot on sans calibration. We used Sun Direct HD for checking DTH programming.
Once I calibrated the TV with Datacolor's Spyder colorimeter, the whites and colours were noticeably better. However, the lack of true individual RGB colour adjustment prevents the calibrated image quality from being ported to other non-PC devices such as Blu-ray players, consoles and set-top boxes. The TV could display all black as well as white saturation levels with consummate ease. This is surprisingly good for a 32" TV, thereby justifying its premium. The colour gradient impressed just as much, with a great degree of separation being apparent even in the hard-to-discern areas of the colour swatches.
The stand is surprisinly sturdy and wobble free
UI and Smart TV
The UI is one of the best I have seen. It's minimalist, intuitive and quite fast as well as lag-free. This makes one wonder what's the point of plonking quad-core processors in the comparatively more laggy Samsung 2013 Smart TVs. The Smart TV features include the standard YouTube/Skype apps and Internet browsing, in addition to USB playback that can manage to play all sorts of popular video and audio formats as long as they aren't FLAC. The TV also includes MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link), which allows you to share video and audio content as well as screens between the TV and compatible mobile devices with the help of a cable—unfortunately, the cable hasn't been bundled.
Verdict and price in India
The Sony BRAVIA KDL-W650A LED TV may seem expensive, but it has the quality and performance to back it up. The build quality is spot on, while this also happens to be one of the rare LED/LCD TVs that manages to provide decent sound quality. The image fidelity too defies the price and the size of the TV, with excellent showing in movies and games alike. The smart TV features may not be as elaborate as those found in the more expensive variety, but have been put together well and woven around a pleasing UI. If you don't mind spending a premium on quality, this TV thoroughly justifies its asking price.
The TV may not be the slimmest, but it makes up for that with raw performance
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