Design & Features
We made short work in putting the EX520's table-top stand together, but note that the HDTV's final assembly isn't the most stable given its fair amount of panel wobble. Aesthetically, it exhibits similar looks to last year's EX500 series, framed by a glossy black bezel and a gun-metal gray strip below. Depth-wise, the 29.5mm thin EX520 is visibly slimmer than the EX500, credit to its edge-mounted LED backlights. The TV's matte screen with its lesser reflections is another welcome incentive. Sony has integrated an ambient light sensor with this particular iteration, and a presence sensor that can also be found on higher end models such as the EX720. Although this TV is WiFi-ready, you'll still require the optional and rather pricey UWA-BR100 wireless LAN adapter ($149) to enjoy its wireless perks.
In the connectivity department, Sony has engineered an ample collection of AV jacks. Looking at its back panel, we spied three HDMI ports, an Ethernet slot (for firmware updates and BRAVIA Internet features) and the usual analog inputs. And that includes two composite and one component terminals. Audiophiles might prefer to tap its optical outlet, which is also present in the EX520. Further west, the side strip revealed two USB slots for media playback, as well as VGA, RCA audio and headphone outlets. We'd love to try out Sony's new Remote Keyboard feature, but unfortunately, the update is only available from April onwards. As for the remote, nothing much has changed since we last handled a BRAVIA, with Sony's signature concave design making yet another appearance.
Followers of Sony's BRAVIA line should know that the Xross Media Bar interface has been a regular feature on Sony's tellies and PlayStation franchise over numerous generations. However, Sony has since ditched the familiar user interface for an updated GUI on the EX520. In short, main icons are laid out along the lower half of the screen, while sub-menu items are displayed on the right. After giving it a brief once over, Sony's recent implementation had our vote over the former given its added preview screen and concise layout. Presets are rather limited, with only Standard, Vivid and Custom selections found under the Picture tab. Or so we thought, for tucked away under System Settings are more picture presets to be had, such as Cinema, Photo, Animation and so forth.
Being equipped for the Internet, it's no surprise that the EX520 is pre-installed with a widget platform featuring a range of video streaming sites such as YouTube and DailyMotion. Apart from that, the TV also brandishes a built-in web browser. But be warned, for it can be a pain to use. Besides its sluggish operation, the browser also has a tendency to crash whenever we attempted to load a Flash-based website. While the TV's streaming applications were relatively responsive, we'd recommend shelving the integrated browser for good. As for media playback, the EX520 handled common formats such as MPEG4 and AVI files well, including most Xvid codecs, but failed to detect the MKV container.