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Sharp Aquos 1080 XD1E: Ready or not?

Sharp has launched a range of 'Full HD' LCD TVs that can display 1080i signals without any need for downscaling. Unfortunately, you may need to downscale your lifestyle to be able to afford them

All the talk at this month's IFA trade show was about the arrival of 'Full High-Definition' TVs. Typical. We've only just got used to the HD Ready industry standard, and now there's new jargon to get our heads round.

'Full HD' refers to screens with a maximum resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels. Unlike the earlier HD standard, which required a minimum resolution of 1,280x768 pixels, Full HD models can display 1080i signals in their entirety without any need for downscaling. This is guaranteed to disgruntle existing owners, who believed that buying a screen with an HD Ready logo would ensure future-proof compatibility. Some may have already discovered this isn't true, since Sky is broadcasting all its hi-def content using 1080i.

But the confusion doesn't end here. Blu-ray and HD DVD players, which are due to launch soon, will be able to output progressively scanned 1080p signals -- the height of high-definition. Not only will earlier HD screens not be able to realise this technology, but some supposedly Full HD screens cannot guarantee 1080p support either. However, while some manufacturers are still deliberating, Sharp has taken hold and released a range of Full HD screens with assured 1080p resolutions.

The Aquos 1080 XD1E series features four large LCD screens -- 37-inch, 42-inch, 46-inch and 52-inch. The Full HD technology means that you can watch high-def content on a large screen without having to sit too far from the TV -- the resolution is so high that the image quality is good even from short distances.

All models are manufactured at Sharp's Kameyama II plant, which it claims is the world's first eighth-generation LCD factory. Each screen has a wodge of advanced technology, including the latest picture-processing systems, enhanced contrast and dual-HDMI connectivity. The smaller 37-inch and 42-inch models will be fitted with integrated Freeview tuners.

The entire range will be simultaneously released around the world on 1 October, priced at £1,999 for the 37-inch model (37XD1E), going up to a whopping £4,499 for the 52-inch model (52XD1E). These prices are likely to put many consumers off, particularly as 1080p content isn't available yet.

To find out more about high-def, read's guide to getting ready for high-definition content. -RA