Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is by tradition a shopping-fest where all the stores slash their prices and shoppers stampede for bargains. Not to be left out, I hightailed it down to join the throngs at Best Buy to stock up on some new kit.
First in the cart was a new TV – a Sony Bravia 26“ HDTV LCD Flat Panel TV. I don’t have a High Definition (HD) cable service yet and for best results you obviously need the signal to be HD, but it works well with an analog signal and for DVD playback. In fact the picture quality is better than my previous Sony Trinitron for analog cable TV.
One thing which I learned when shopping for tvs is not to judge each television by the quality of the picture you see in the store. Evidently the signal to each of those sets is split up to eight times, so it’s not representative of what you’ll see in your living room. In fact the image on the Sony Bravia in the store was far worse than a JVC sitting next to it. I was tempted by the JVC on that basis but opted to trust the store assistant, and am glad I did.
First impressions of the set are good. It was surprisingly easy to set up using its auto-set up program. One frustration was that the Bravia requires its own co-axial cable connection, but doesn’t come with a signal splitter or an additional co-ax cable. This necessitated a second, rather irritated trip back to the store. This is par for the course when setting up new AV kit, I have found, but from a customer perspective it would be better if the manufacturers included more cables rather than grinching them. The additional cost would be more than offset by increased customer satisfaction.
The set has a good design and looks modern without being too showy. The remote is fairly easy to understand. The Bravia has a WEGA-gate feature which is a central menu where you can configure settings, favorite channels and set up new inputs, such as camcorder or games console. It also has a number of needless features like freeze frame, and channel jump which don’t add much value.
Being a flat screen, the set is also extremely light, which means you can mount it on the wall and maneuver it around your home without much difficulty. The same can’t be said of my Sony ‘Beast’ Trinitron which takes two people to even adjust the positioning.
The sound is good but perhaps on the quiet side. There’s not much stereo effect since the speakers are positioned along the bottom of the set rather than at either side. This keeps the set small but compromises the sound. It does have surround-sound capability for those interested or for larger living spaces.
Overall this is a good tv, with a clear screen, easy set up, elegant and modern design and a wide range of picture configuration options. The one downside is the sound which is a little flat. I’d shop around since I’ve found the prices range quite a bit, but it’s certainly one to consider alongside Samsung and Sharp which are the other leaders in this space at the moment.