"Never wear brown in town" might be sensible fashion advice for the streets, but Sony has pulled the remarkably similar shade of "mocha" from its locker for its latest small Bravia. This 20-inch LCD TV’s "glossy mocha" finish might not be to everyone’s taste, but given the latest interior design trends it’s probably not going to disrupt your home’s harmony as much as that 50in gloss black plasma you’ve been considering.
OK, it’s so small that it’s really not in competition with serious big screen TVs, but the KDL-20B4050 is keen to tour your home. Fitted with a moulded-in carry handle, this set’s carefully weighted base (which does away with the need for a separate desktop spider stand) helps create more room for its speakers, which point in the viewer’s direction. It’s a remarkably well-designed telly – even the attached power cable can be stored in the TV's frame itself.
It may be Bravia by name, but the KDL-20B4050's nature is slightly different. Its reliance on old-fashioned onscreen menus suggest that the KDL-20B4050 doesn't enjoy the finer trappings of bigger TVs further up the ever-popular range of Bravia LCD TVs, although Sony’s "Bravia Engine" picture processing is on board.
Also available as a 23-incher, this TV is best seen as an attractive addition to a kitchen, office or bedroom. The latter possibility is boosted by its HD-Ready 1366 x 786 pixel resolution and the appearance on its rear of a single HDMI input, which immediately flags it up as a screen for owners of the latest games consoles. There’s also a set of Component video inputs, two Scarts, a PC input and all the usual lesser video and audio gubbins.
The KDL-20B4050’s built-in digital Freeview TV tuner is likely to perform its main duties. The software that accompanies it is rather basic, showing around a dozen channels' TV schedules at any one time, but it does the job. Picture quality is excellent: the small screen helps, of course, but there’s a vibrancy of colour and clean solidity that’s rare. We have seen more precise performances with Freeview, but not often.
It’s far too small to consider attaching to a SkyHD or Freesat box, but the KDL-20B4050’s offline high-def future is assured. Using a Blu-ray player, the detail on show is impressive despite the small screen. Again, there is some blur as objects pass quickly across the camera, and also a degree of judder to Blu-ray discs, but it’s far less noticeable or distracting at this size than on a 40-inch LCD TV.
If you do use it as a screen for a Blu-ray player, there’s a bonus in the shape of Bravia Theatre Sync. It lets the TV remote control operate any new Blu-ray or DVD player connected via the HDMI socket.
Endowed with reasonably high contrast, there’s good depth to pictures while colour is another of Sony’s strong points that is once again present on the KDL-20B4050. It’s certainly better able to handle HD games than most 20-inch TVs.
Audio is also ably handled, with the set’s Virtual Dolby Surround particularly impressive for such a tiddler of a TV.
Designed with both style and practicality in mind, the picture quality of Sony’s KDL-20B4050 is nothing special when compared to other Bravias – but when compared to the competition at this size, it’s a mighty tempting telly.