Picture quality on the entry-level Sharp had its ups and downs, but overall it was among the least impressive of the models we tested. Black levels were deep enough for a low-buck LCD, but color accuracy, video processing and a few other miscues tipped the scales in the negative direction.
Setting the Sharp up for optimal picture quality was a bit more involved (and more frustrating) of a process than with many other less expensive HDTVs. We began by engaging Movie mode, disabling the OPC room-lighting sensor and noting the mode's mostly accurate color temperature in the Low preset--that accuracy was especially welcome since we couldn't tweak color temp beyond choosing a preset. But when we tried adjusting the primary colors and color decoding using the Sharp's controls we couldn't make much headway at all, despite the array of tweaks. We were able to improve the color slightly, compared against the default settings, but not nearly as much as the set needed (see below).
We compared the Sharp directly with a few other entry-level LCDs we had onhand, including the LG 32LH20, the Panasonic TC-L32X1, the Samsung LN32B360, the Sony KDL-32L5000, the Toshiba 32AV502U, the Vizio VO302E, and the Westinghouse SK-32H640G. We also employed our trusty Pioneer PRO-111FD as a reference--obviously, it shouldn't be compared with any of these LCDs. Our Blu-ray of choice for most of the image quality tests in this comparison was the superb-looking "Baraka" played at from our Sony PlayStation3.
Before we go much further it's worth mentioning a couple of odd issues with the Sharp that didn't crop up on the other displays. First, black levels and perhaps some other picture characteristics changed for no reason we could discern when we switched sources. Our settings linked above, and our comments on black levels below, held true for our PS3 Blu-ray source at 1080i, but when we switched to other 1080i sources (a DirecTV HR20 and an Oppo DV-980H upconverting DVD player) black levels became brighter. Second and seemingly unrelated, the picture would on occasion briefly flash to black and back on again twice. The flash to black occurred consistently when skipping chapters on a Blu-ray, or when switching sources. Neither issue is something we consider a deal-breaker on an inexpensive TV, but both are bothersome.
Black level: The LC-32D47UT's best showing in the picture quality department came in dark scenes, when its reproduction of black was relatively deep. It matched the Sony and fell short of the Toshiba and Samsung, outclassing the others in areas like the night sky around the eclipse, the letterbox bars, and the black background behind the credits. Shadow detail, like the rocks and deeper recesses of the foundry in Chapter 17, was also more natural than most of the other sets in our lineup.
Color accuracy: Despite our best efforts with the its color management system, accuracy ended up as a strike against the Sharp. Given the set's solid grayscale measurements, we expected skin tones to look superb, but the faces of the subway riders and the skin of the tattooed bather for example, seemed a bit too pale and bluish compared with the LG and the Vizio, for example. Much more egregious were the Sharp's primary and secondary colors--the green of the jungle plants in Chapter 4, and especially the cyan of the sky and water in Chapter 5, looked off (green was more neon-like and bluish, cyan was greener) compared with all of the other sets. A greenish tinge also appeared in white areas, like the clouds in Chapter 9, which made them appear less natural; we chalk it up to the set's less accurate color decoding.
Finally, like many LCDs we've tested, the LC-32D47UT suffered from blue coloration in dark scenes. Only the Panasonic, LG, and Westinghouse had it worse.
Video processing: Sharp tripped up a bit in this area. We noticed jagged edges along some lines, and a moire pattern of crossed lines in the stairs of Tiananmen Square in Chapter 18 and minor flashing in the base of a pillar in Chapter 20. The Toshiba and Sharp TVs showed similar artifacts, but none of the other sets did. The problem only occurred in 1080i mode, so we recommend that owners of this TV should set their HD output devices to 720p mode instead. As we mentioned above, 1080p sources are not an option.
The LC-32D47UT doesn't perform much overt processing, such as such as the dejudder seen on higher-end LCDs, and since it has 720p resolution, our motion resolution test isn't valid. We expect it would perform about the same on that test as other 60Hz displays, however, and as usual we didn't notice any motion blur in our viewing.
Uniformity: No major bright spots marred the Sharp's screen during dark scenes, but in midbright scenes we did notice more brightness variation across the screen than we saw on the other sets, as well as a brighter right side of the picture. These issues showed up best in flat fields, like the clouds in Chapter 5, but neither one was particularly noticeable in most scenes. Off-angle performance was mediocre; seen from positions other than the sweet spot directly in front, the Sharp's picture washed out faster than all save the LG, the Panasonic, and the Westinghouse.
Bright lighting: Like most matte-screened LCDs, the LC-32D47UT performed well under bright lights, attenuating ambient light admirably. It was no better or worse than any of the other sets in our lineup, which all have similar screens.
Standard-definition: The Sharp came in slightly below average in our standard-def tests. We appreciated that it served up the full resolution of the DVD format, but details in areas like the grass and stone bridge on our test disc looked softer. It also had issues removing jaggies from some of the moving diagonal lines and a waving American flag. On the other hand we can't complain about its noise reduction, and appreciated that it handled our 2:3 pull-down test.
PC: Via HDMI the Sharp performed as expected, delivering the full resolution of 1,360x768 sources. But it fell short via VGA, delivering a softer picture that didn't have the full horizontal resolution according to DisplayMate. Notably, you must manually choose the input resolution using a special onscreen menu.
|Before color temp (20/80)||6687/6466||Good|
|After color temp||N/A|
|Before grayscale variation||114||Good|
|After grayscale variation||N/A|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.6286/0.322||Average|
|Color of green||0.265/0.589||Average|
|Color of blue||0.146/0.058||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Y||Good|
|480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps||Pass||Good|
|1080i video resolution||Pass||Good|
|1080i film resolution||Pass||Good|
Power consumption: Both before and after calibration, even without engaging its room-lighting sensor or power saver modes, the Sharp LC-32D47UT is the most energy-efficient 32-inch LCD in our test. Post-calibration it beat the Westinghouse by a mere 6 cents per year, and surpassed the least efficient model in the test, Panasonic's TC-32LX1, by about 5 bucks per year.
|Sharp LC-32D47UT||Picture settings|
|Picture on (watts)||71.68||47.75||62.05|
|Picture on (watts/sq. inch)||0.164||0.11||0.14|
|Cost per year||$15.56||$10.41||$13.49|
|Score (considering size)||Good|