Our tests began by setting up the Sharp's picture for optimal performance in our darkened room, which meant reducing the backlight control to achieve a maximum light output of around 40 ftl (footlambert). We chose the Low color temperature preset, which came relatively close to the NTSC standard despite tingeing the grayscale a bit too red, and made sure to disable the automatic light-sensing function, which caused the set's image be too dim for our tastes. For a complete look at our picture settings, click here or check out the Tips & Tricks section above. For our formal evaluations, we set the Sharp up next to a couple of competing LCDs, namely the aforementioned Samsung LN-T3253H and the Viewsonic N3235W along with our color reference, the Pioneer PRO-FHD1, and checked out V for Vendetta played over the Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD player at 1080i resolution.
Sharp has been responsible for some of the deepest black levels we've seen from LCD, and the LC-32D43U can produce a nice, dark black itself. Compared to the Samsung, its letterbox bars and black areas were basically identical in depth of black--both to the naked eye and according to our measurements--which is among the best we've seen from LCDs at this size. When Evie stands with V atop the building to watch the pyrotechnics, for example, the black of his robes and hat, along with the night sky and the black letterbox bars themselves, all appeared satisfyingly dark. Shadow detail was solid for an LCD as well, although the Samsung still looked a bit more realistic with its shallower rise out of black, especially in near-dark areas such as the folds of V's robe.
One area where the Sharp outdid the Samsung was in its consistent grayscale in dark areas--specifically, it didn't get too blue. Evie's skin tone on the rooftop and the actual dark sky looked more natural, for example. That's not to say the Sharp's color couldn't use some improvement. We mentioned its slightly reddish overall grayscale, and as we indicate in the Geek Box below, its primary color accuracy could also be closer to the HDTV spec. Color decoding was off significantly as well, but instead of Sharp's customary red push, the LC-32D43U actually undersaturated red, as well as green, in comparison to blue. We adjusted the color control as best we could to compensate, but blue areas such as Creedy's door and Finch's shirt still appeared too intense and oversaturated compared to our reference Pioneer. This effect wasn't as bad as red push or green desaturation, however, so overall, the Sharp's color accuracy was still superior to most LCDs.
Screen uniformity on the Sharp was quite good for an LCD, without any of the banding we've seen on the company's larger models. We did detect that the edges were slightly brighter than the middle when viewing flat black fields, such as the night sky behind Big Ben, but the difference wasn't distracting. Like all LCDs, the set's black areas became more washed-out looking when viewed from off-angle, but the falloff was about equivalent to the Samsung, and there was no discoloration to speak of.
In terms of resolution, the Sharp LC-32D43U delivered a slightly sharper image than with 720p sources than with 1080i, although we did not notice the difference in real program material, as opposed to test patterns. According to our tests, the Sharp also failed to correctly deinterlace 1080i film-based material, and we did detect some moirÃ© in the stands of Raymond James Stadium from the HQV disc, and the grille of the RV at the end of Chapter 6 of Ghost Rider, for example. All of these issues considered, we recommend feeding the Sharp 720p sources as opposed to 1080i when you have the choice.
With a standard-def source, namely the HQV test DVD delivered via component-video at 480i resolution, the Sharp turned in a decidedly below-average performance. The set could not resolve every line of horizontal resolution and evinced some flicker in the color bar pattern. We detected softness in the grass and the stone bridge from the Detail scene, and while increasing the sharpness control did improve the image a bit, it also introduced visible edge enhancement. The Sharp's noise-reduction control, even set at High, didn't clean up the snowy, low-quality shots of skies and sunsets nearly as well as the Samsung or even the Viewsonic, which lacks a noise reduction control. We also tested the Sharp's image-compensation setting with both slow- and fast-motion scenes, and saw that it sacrificed some detail, and it failed the 2:3 pull-down test in the in the Fast setting. We left it on Slow, because to our eye, there wasn't any benefit to Fast.
In its favor, the LC-32D43U did smooth out the jagged edges from moving diagonal lines, such as the stripes on a waving American flag, and it engaged 2:3 pull-down detection quickly and accurately. Despite these good points, if you're going to be watching a lot of standard-def via analog inputs (as opposed to SD channels from an HD source such as a cable or satellite box that converts everything to high-def--obviating the Sharp's problems), you may want to choose another set.
We also tested the Sharp as a PC monitor using the VGA input, and it performed relatively well, although not quite as well as the other two 32-inch LCDs. It fell just short of showing the full horizontal resolution of a 1,360x768 signal, but text still looked crisp albeit a tad softer than perfect. Notably, you have to choose between 1,360x768 and 1,024x768 resolution from a menu--the Sharp apparently does not, like most HDTVs we've tested, automatically adjust itself for the incoming resolution. We also connected a PC's DVI output to one of the Sharp's HDMI inputs, and got basically identical results.
|Before color temp (20/80)||6265/6236||Good|
|After color temp||N/A|
|Before grayscale variation||+/- 254K||Good|
|After grayscale variation||N/A|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.632/0.339||Average|
|Color of green||0.270/0.599||Average|
|Color of blue||0.145/0.064||Good|
|Black-level retention||All patterns stable||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||No||Poor|
|480i 2:3 pull-down, 24fps||Yes||Good|
|1080i video resolution||Fail||Poor|
|1080i film resolution||Fail||Poor|
|Sharp LC-32D43U||Picture settings|
|Picture on (watts)||144.11||78.14||N/A|
|Picture on (watts/sq. inch)||0.33||0.18||N/A|
|Cost per year||$44.41||$24.38||N/A|
|Score (considering size)||Poor|