Sharp has long been a leader in LCD products, and the company is at the heart of heated competition between LCD and plasma for your big-screen flat-panel dollars. In LCD's favor, the price vs. size gap is narrowing rapidly, although it's nowhere near parity yet: you'll still pay a hefty premium for a big-screen LCD. At 45 inches diagonal, the Sharp LC-45GX6U is one of the largest direct-view LCD TVs money can buy, and its native 1080p resolution bests that of every plasma currently on the market. However, resolution is only one ingredient in picture quality, and while the big Sharp does some things well, it has too many performance issues to earn our full recommendation. For now, at least, like-size plasmas such as Panasonic's trump this Sharp in both image quality and value.
Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.In terms of appearance and industrial design, the LC-45GX6U is quite impressive. Its outer frame is finished in a metallic gray, darker than the silver typical of some sets, and a black bezel surrounds the outer edge of the screen. The black strip lends to the beauty of the design and also improves the perceived contrast ratio.
The set comes in a stand-alone version, model LC-45GD6U, but the LC-45GX6U that we reviewed includes an outboard A/V controller that acts as an A/V source switcher. The controller is finished in the same metallic gray as the set itself, is the size of a standard A/V component, and routes all video signals to the panel via a 10-foot proprietary cable. A 33-foot version (model AN-HV6AV1, $199) is also available.
Sharp includes an integrated table stand with this set, which you can detach in favor of an optional wall mount if you so desire. Likewise, you can also remove the single-piece stereo speaker that runs along the bottom of the panel. If you prefer the appearance of side-mounted speakers, the LC-45GD4U may be more to your liking.
The backlit remote is quite large, with seemingly a zillion buttons in varying sizes and shapes, making it pretty awkward to use. We were disappointed to find that it doesn't have direct-access keys for input/source selection. The internal menu system is straightforward and fairly easy to navigate, although beginners may find the myriad options intimidating at first.Aside from Samsung's 46-inch , this Sharp is the largest currently available flat-panel LCD TV--although larger ones were announced at CES 2005. With a native resolution of 1,920x1,080, the LC-45GX6U has enough pixels to display every bit of detail from the highest-resolution HDTV format (1080i), but it didn't quite realize that potential in our tests (see Performance for more). Its internal scalar fills the screen with all other sources, including 720p HDTV, standard-definition video, and computer.