Sony Bravia LED TV 26 Inch
After trying and testing the various options in the internal menu, for watching films, we found the best settings were ‘Custom’ mode with colour temperature at ‘Warm 1’ and ‘Gamma’ at -1. With these settings, you can enjoy relatively accurate (if not perfect) colours (the average Delta E is just under 3.4), above-average contrast (2900:1), a well-balanced gamma and a near-perfect colour temperature.
For standard definition sources (DVD, SD TV channels, etc.), the image can look a little soft, but boosting the sharpness setting corrects this. Plus, if you have one of the latest generation games consoles, it’ll do a much better job of of DVD upscaling than this TV.
How We Test TVs
Sony is replacing 2011’s EX320 with a new small-sized Edge LED TV—the EX553 (EX550 in mainland Europe), available with a 22-inch or 26-inch screen. This small, occasional TV is a handy second telly for a kitchen or bedroom, and comes with Wi-Fi connectivity, Sony’s Internet TV services for access to TV and movies on demand, as well as all kinds of apps in the Sony Entertainment Network.
In design terms, the EX553 is basically a small version of the HX753. The screen can now be tilted 6° backwards and is mounted on a new stand consisting of two slim metal feet. The only difference between this model and the HX753 is that the stand doesn’t swivel.
Anyone who’s tired of black electronics will be pleased to hear that Sony will be selling the EX553 in both black and white.
Like other Sony 2012 TVs, the EX553 can be piloted with the remote control supplied (which is smaller and has more rounded edges than last year’s Sony remotes) or with the Sony Media Remote application for smartphones and tablets running iOS or Android.
Sony’s web-connected services have improved thanks to the Sony Entertainment Network and its various channels, but the built-in media player is still no match from the kind of systems used in LG and Samsung TVs. It can’t, for example, play HD movie files or MKV files as standard. So, in the end, the USB port is only really useful for connecting an external hard drive or USB flash drive for recording TV shows (live TV can also be controlled).
2D Image Quality
Matte screen keeps glare and reflections at bay
After adjusting a few settings in the internal menu (see inset), picture quality is more than acceptable.
Left: a 1080p image downscaled to 720p. Right: a 1080p images displayed perfectly.
The only major downside of this TV is its screen resolution, as Sony has used 1366 x 768 pixel HD instead of 1920 x 1080 pixel Full HD. Images from Full HD content like Blu-ray discs are therefore downscaled so that they can be displayed on this lower-resolution screen. This in turn causes the image to lose sharpness, as you can see from our 1080p test image above.
Ghosting is a little on the high side too. We measured a ghosting time of 16 ms while most TVs on the market usually score under 12 ms. In other words, ghost images trailing behind moving objects will be slightly more noticeable in this TV, and there’s unfortunately no motion interpolation mode on hand to reduce that.
Another disappointment is the slightly high input lag. With a minimum 66 ms and some peaks at 99 ms (that’s 4 to 6 frames of lag), gamers will be at a disadvantage when using this TV.
This TV screen has pretty good viewing angles. They’re about on par with IPS screens (as used in LG, and some Philips TVs), which set the standard for LCD TVs. However, it’s still no match for plasma technology.
There were no clouding issues on the model we tested. The screen therefore displayed a consistent black over the whole panel, which isn’t something we see often in TVs with Edge LED backlighting.
The audio in Sony’s 2012 TV range doesn’t look like it’s up to much! At 85 dB (Dolby’s recommended setting for watching films), the EX553 has real problems with the lowest (bass) and highest frequencies, just like the HX753. In fact, only mediums are reproduced effectively. You can improve things by switching the volume down to 20 or 40 out of 100 (the settings recommended by Sony’s engineers), but you may find that a bit too quiet—especially if there’s even the slightest level of background noise. We’d therefore recommend you hook up an external speaker kit—even an entry-level kit would help!
As is often the way, we can end this TV review on a positive note as, thanks to the LED backlighting, the Sony EX553 keeps power use in check. We measured 39 watts drawn from the socket with the TV on, which makes 209 W/m² for the 26-inch screen. On standby things get even better, as the EX553 uses less than 1 watt of power.