Not quite as visible as the Samsung and Sony televisions of this world, nevertheless Sharp has kept beavering away for the last few years at producing LCD televisions of good quality. However, it's been a while between drinks for the company, and so we look at what Sharp's LC42D77X has to offer.
Several years ago, in what we call "the putrid stage", televisions came in an odd combination of silver and black, and not even Sharp got off lightly. However, its last few ranges have shown some up-to-date cosmetics. For the D77X the company has taken a leaf from LG's book with the TV's transparent plastic and piano black/blue finish. The base of the unit is also constructed from shiny black plastic.
The remote is functional, even if the buttons are a little small. It's not the easiest to use, as the volume and channel buttons are placed above the D pad in an awkward spot, and it requires a little bit of juggling to operate correctly.
As this is a mid-priced television the feature count is relatively modest: no fancy interweb doohickeys here. You get a 1080p panel "proudly" manufactured in Japan — where most are from Korea or China — and it features a dynamic contrast ratio of 50,000 to one. Like many modern flat panels, it features a 100Hz mode, here called Fine Motion Advanced 100Hz, and is designed to smooth out motion artefacts like "judder" and "ghosting".
The television comes with three HDMI ports (which is typical for a TV of this size and price) in addition to two component inputs. If you have a lot of legacy equipment you'll appreciate the three AV inputs plus the inclusion of the technically superior (but mostly shunned) S-Video connection. A VGA input and optical digital and AV output (for the on-board tuner) round out the connectivity.
We've been a fan of Sharp's TV sound for a while, and on the LC42D77X it has the "invisible speaker" where the speakers are integrated into the bezel. The system is driven by a digital amplifier, which traditionally boasts better efficiency — meaning less heat and better power.
Like all TVs, you'll see from the close of this year onwards that the Sharp comes with an Energy Star rating, and in this case it scores a semi-respectable 3.5 stars. This is due in part to its suite of Eco features, which include energy save, no signal off and no operation off modes.
Finally, the TV also features a large, easy to read seven-day EPG (Electronic Program Guide). The EPG has a search feature, but is no more useful than that on any other EPG — you can only search by date or genre, and both are time consuming.