Sony Bravia KDL20S4000

Colourful bedroom TV

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Sony Bravia KDL20S4000
  • Sony Bravia KDL20S4000
  • Sony Bravia KDL20S4000
  • Sony Bravia KDL20S4000
  • Expert Rating

    3.75 / 5

Pros

  • Cute design, great colour reproduction, good HD playback

Cons

  • Blacks can be cloudy, some lack of detail in dark areas

Bottom Line

A strong contender for a place in your kitchen or bedroom, or just as a backup TV, the Sony KDL20S4000 is a 20in 720p panel that offers good image quality for both HD and SD playback. It isn't perfect, but considering the size, price tag and target market it does a solid job.

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All the talk these days is about massive flat panel TVs for living rooms or personal theatres. 100Hz, 1080p and 24p playback are the order of the day. It's easy to forget that there is another market for TVs: secondary units for the kitchen or bedroom that don’t need the same goliath designs and fancy features as their larger siblings.

The Sony KDL20S4000 fits firmly into this category. Featuring a mildly funky design and available in a variety of colours, this unit is clearly designed with fun in mind. However, that isn’t to say it can’t perform. While it is ‘only’ 720p rather than the more fashionable 1080p, this resolution is more than adequate for the 20in screen size and the image quality is fairly impressive — if not astounding.

With a native resolution of 1366x768 the panel is capable of rendering high-definition footage nicely, and it can even adequately downscale 1080p sources. During our HD tests everything looked impressive with excellent colour accuracy. The images were a little softer than on some competing units. That isn’t to say they lacked clarity, however; all the detail and crispness you’ve come to expect from HD footage was evident here.

Noise was also extremely well controlled. One of our favourite HD test films is Transformers, which is well mastered on the whole but has some sections that suffer from a little graininess. It was kept to a minimum on the KDL20S4000, however.

The only really disappointing thing was contrast and black depth. Blacks were noticeably cloudy during testing and there were some uniformity issues along the edges of the screen. We also found detail was a little obscured in dark areas during our film tests, which may bother image quality purists. The TV has several modes, including standard and cinema; flicking between the two didn’t seem to remedy the issue.

In our standard-definition tests the KDL20S4000 performed adequately. It produced a slightly grainier picture than normal with some minor scaling artefacts, but the overall clarity was good and colour balance was once again excellent. Due to the small screen size any aberrations aren’t as readily noticeable and thus the unit should be perfect for the occasional DVD before bed.

With a response time of 8ms we found this TV coped well with fast motion. There was a small amount of ghosting, but unless you’re regularly watching sports it shouldn’t be noticeable. The unit is also 24p capable, which is a boon for movie lovers and helps produce a smoother image.

We also tested PC connectivity via the D-sub port and were pleased with the result. Our DisplayMate Video Edition tests revealed the usual flickering and interference associated with a VGA connection; aside from this everything was well rendered, with the desktop taking up the entire screen and looking crisp.

Despite the KDL20S4000 being a small display it is well equipped in terms of connectivity. It has three HDMI ports, two component ports and a smattering of other analog connections.

Aesthetically this unit is a little unusual. It has a rounded, colourful look that makes it appear more like a toy than a display device. Some may not appreciate this as it doesn’t really fit with a sleek and modern style, but we enjoyed the originality.

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

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