Down the Line: Sharp flat-panel LCD
CNET editors check out Sharp's extensive lineup of 2007 HDTVs, including a few models we've reviewed.
We've reviewed three models from Sharp's 2007 flat-panel LCD lineup lineup so far this year: the , the , and the LC-32D43U. If those model numbers don't mean much to you, don't worry. We'll take you through the company's extensive 2007 LCD lineup from least to most expensive, and when we don't have actual reviews we'll provide our take on step-up features and how the models relate to one another.
The main 2007 entry-level series of Sharp's widescreen flat-panel LCD lineup--we'll ignore the company's non-widescreen sets for this article--is the LC-D43U series, but we're also including the slightly less expensive LC-D42U series, available only at select distributors including Costco, because it's basically identical and should deliver the same picture quality. In fact, the only difference between the two series is the presence of a little piece of shiny trim under the bezel on the D43.
We reviewed the 32-inch member of the D43U series, model LC-32D43U, and found a lot of things to like, including solid black-level performance and surprisingly accurate color, which had long been a weakness of Sharp LCDs. We expect the 26- and 37-inch models to perform similarly, but the larger ones have slightly better contrast ratio specs and so may perform differently. In terms of features, all have the standard LCD native resolution of 1,366x768 and two HDMI inputs, while their exteriors incorporate glossy black frames and understated silver borders and speaker grilles.
- 1,366x768 native resolution on all models
- Two HDMI inputs
- Bottom-mounted speakers
Sharp's least expensive lineup of big-screen 1080p HDTVs, the LC-60CU series includes TVs sized at 46 and 52 inches. We haven't reviewed these models, so we can't say for sure whether they exhibit the same kinds of backlight uniformity issues we witnessed on the LC-52D92U (see below), but we do expect them to deliver the same excellent black-level performance that we've seen from recent high-end Sharp LCDs. The 1,920x1,080 pixel array, which Sharp calls "full HD 1080p," allows these sets to display every detail of 1080i and 1080p content (more info). The visibility of this extra detail depends on many factors, however, including seating distance, and if you sit a normal distance from the set--say about 7 feet away from the 46-inch model--you'll probably have a hard time appreciating the extra resolution. Aside from the extra resolution, the feature set of this series is quite similar to that of the LC-D43U series above.
- 1080p native resolution
Sandwiched somewhere in the midst of Sharp's 1080p big-screen lineup are a couple of smaller sets, at 32 and 37 inches, said to be designed for gaming. We reviewed the LC-32GP1U and weren't too impressed by gaming-friendliness--it was hard to tell exactly how it was a better gaming TV than any other--but we did like a couple of its other characteristics. Nonetheless it's hard to justify spending this much on a 32-inch LCD, because even if it does have 1080p resolution, it's mighty hard to appreciate at this tiny screen size. Then again, it does make a pretty nice computer monitor. In addition to the game mode, this series includes three HDMI inputs and a DVI input for PC-friendliness.
- Three HDMI inputs
- DVI input
- Game mode
The step-up to the LC-60CU series includes the same pair of screen sizes, 46 and 52 inches, and while we haven't reviewed these sets, we expect them to perform similarly to the LC-52D92U that we did review, along with thefrom 2006. In other words, we expect these sets to have similar backlight uniformity issues. Feature-wise, they add a third HDMI input over the step-down big-screen LCDs, as well as 120Hz frame-rate conversion. Not to be confused with true 120Hz refresh rates, found on some other 2007 LCDs, 120Hz frame-rate conversion didn't seem to do much in our tests of the LC-52D92U. Unlike that model, the sets in this series lack a DVI input, making do with a VGA-style RGB input.
- 120Hz frame-rate conversion
As we mentioned above, we've taken a long look at the 52-inch model in this series, and generally liked what we saw--especially its black-level performance, which produced a deeper shade of black than just about any other TV we've tested. There was one unusual picture flaw, however, which stemmed from the uneven backlight and kept these high-end LCDs out of the elite pack (see review for details). Compared to the D82U series, these flagship D92U models include a DVI input for PC connection, as well as a slick, detachable speaker, in case you just want to use an external sound system. They also claim a higher contrast ratio spec, but not having directly compared these sets to the D82U series, we can't confirm how much that affects picture quality.
- DVI input
- Detachable speaker
This is just a single model, not part of any series, and its extremely high price (around $10,000) and large screen size (65 inches) definitely set it apart from the pack. We don't plan to review this model, but if you're spending that kind of cash you probably don't want to hear anything bad about it anyway.
- 65-inch screen
We'll update this article when we review more Sharp LCDs or if the company announces any new 2007 models.