Sharp's one of the biggest players in flat-panel LCD HDTVs, and today it announced four new series of the popular Aquos LCDs for 2007. While the 108-inch LCD might have stolen the show at Sharp's press conference, these four Aquos product lines will be of greater interest to anyone actually looking to buy a TV this year.
The D92U series represents Sharp's top-of-the-line flat-panel LCD models, consisting of the 42-inch LC-42D92U, the 46-inch LC-46D92U, and the 52-inch LC-52D92U. All of these LCDs are 1080p sets, which means they have a native resolution of 1,920x1,080 capable of handling all the detail for the highest resolution sources such as HD DVD and Blu-ray. Sharp claims the D92U line will be capable of a whopping 15,000:1 contrast ratio; we're a little skeptical of that spec, but we have seen impressive black levels from Sharp LCDs before. Sharp also provided some other specs, such as a 4ms pixel response rate, a 176-degree viewing angle, and a wide color spectrum thanks to a five-wavelength backlight system. In terms of connectivity, the D92U series is nicely equipped, featuring three HDMI inputs, one DVI input, and two component-video inputs, all of which are compatible with 1080p signals. The LC-46D92U and the LC-52D92U have list prices of $4,200 and $5,300, respectively, and will be available in January. The LC-42D92U will come out a little later in April, with a list price of $3,500. No word as to whether any of these sets will be compatible with the latest HDMI 1.3 standard.
In addition to these three sets, Sharp will also be serving up a king-size 65-inch model-the LC-65D93U--which is almost the same as the D92U with a slightly different design in the form of a piano-black finish and bottom-mounted speakers. Sixty-five inches of LCD glory isn't cheap, though--the LC-65D93U will go for a whopping $11,000 and comes out in March.
Sharp also rolled out a midrange line of 1080p LCDs: the D82U series, which consists of the 46-inch LC-46D82U and the 52-inch LC-52D82U. These sets are similar to the D92U series, but are a slight step down in some areas. For example, Sharp claims only a 10,000:1 contrast ratio for these series and features a four-wavelength backlight system. The only other difference we could muster from the information presented was that the D82U series lacks a DVI input; otherwise its connectivity is the same as that of the D92U series. Both the LC-46D82U and the LC-52D82U will be available in March with list prices of $3,700 and $4,800 respectively.
The D43U series of flat-panel LCDs was also announced, representing Sharp's budget line. This series includes a wide range of screen sizes: the 52-inch LC-52D43U, the 46-inch LC-46D43U, the 42-inch LC-42D43U, the 37-inch LC-37D43U, the 32-inch LC-32D43U, and the 26-inch LC-26D43U. These sets have a lower native resolution of 1,366x768, which means they can display the full detail of 720p material and will scale higher-resolution content to fit the available pixels. Sharp claims the D43U series has a 6ms response rate as well as 176-degree viewing angle. The spec sheet indicates that these sets have HDMI, component-video, S-Video, and composite-video inputs, but it didn't specify how many of each. The release dates for this series are staggered; the LC-32D43U ($1,400) and the LC-37D43U ($1,700) are currently available, the LC-26D43U ($1,100) will be available in February, the LC-46D43U ($2,700) will come out in March, the LC-42D43U (pricing not available) will be available in May, and the LC-52D43U ($4,000) will be available in June.
Sharp introduced one other series of flat-panel 1080p LCDs, the Game Players series, which includes the 32-inch LC-32GP1U and the 37-inch LC-37GP1U. These LCDs are supposedly optimized for gaming; the optimizations come by way of a game mode that adjusts the settings for gaming, a specially designed remote so that it's easy to jump into the mode, and an HDMI and component-video connection on the side to ease the hookup to consoles. The series also features Vyper Drive, which supposedly decreases the lag time between the console and the TV. Otherwise, they boast very similar specs to the D82U series. The list prices for the LC-32GP1U and the LC-37GP1U are $1,700 and $2,000--significantly higher than the same-size TVs in the D43U line. We're not confident that these gaming enhancements will actually be worth the premium, especially since recently we haven't seen much of the ghosting and streaking that plagued earlier LCDs for gaming. The Game Players series will be released in March.