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Sharp Aquos LC-44U review: Sharp Aquos LC-44U

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We also came across one particularly annoying quirk while calibrating the set: it would sometimes drop out of the calibrated setting (User) into the default Dynamic setting after awhile (about 25 to 30 minutes in most cases). Our settings for User were still preserved, but the issue was bothersome nonetheless. For formal testing after calibration, we watched The Prestige on Blu-ray for the majority of our tests.

Black level performance: From the black top hats strewn across the ground in the beginning to the letterbox bars throughout the film, the Sharp displayed a slightly deeper shade of black than the Insignia and the Vizio VO47LF, for example, but the difference was not overwhelming by any stretch. The LC-32D44U also exhibited more detail in shadows and near-black areas, such as the backs of the patrons in the audience or the hair under a bouncer's hat brim.

Color accuracy: The Sharp's issues in this area begin with color temperature, which was unbalanced toward red in both brighter and darker areas, which made skin tones in particular look too ruddy. We noticed the reddish tinge in white areas too, such as the snow through which Hugh Jackman hikes after he leaves his carriage. Primary colors also measured quite inaccurate, which was visible in the bluish-tinged plants in the hotel lobby, and the pinkish red of the walls and floor of a restaurant (compared with our current color reference). We attempted to improve accuracy using the two CMS controls, but as usual for such systems we weren't able to make much headway; only cyan and magenta were able to be improved, and then just slightly. Finally, black areas like the letterbox bars and shadows had the kind of telltale bluish tinge we complained about on the Insignia, but in this Sharp's case, it was even worse.

Video processing: Sharp claims a 6 millisecond response time, which is 0.5ms faster than the Insignia NS-LCD32, and as expected, even with specialized test material designed to demonstrate motion resolution, we couldn't see any difference between the two. There was certainly no visible difference, or blurring for that matter, visible during The Prestige.

The Sharp seemed to have issues with some 1080i material. We would periodically notice combing along the edges of objects during quick transitions when watching TV, such as a commercial where the camera cut from one person to the next every second or so. There was also significant flicker when we fed the set 1080i test patterns from our Sencore signal generator, although we didn't notice such flicker with standard 1080i sources, such as our DirecTV box and PlayStation 3. The combing and flicker went away when we switched to 720p mode, so we recommend that LC-32D44U users choose that resolution instead of 1080i when possible. The Sharp could not accept 1080p signals, as expected, and its 1080i deinterlacing performance was par for the course, failing with film and succeeding with video. Finally, we saw some edge enhancement, such as around black lines on a gray background, that we couldn't remove with the Sharpness control without introducing too much softness.

Uniformity: The LC-32D44U didn't suffer from the same bright corners we saw on the Insignia, and its brightness across the entire screen was much more even. We did see some very faint vertical bands in a couple of midgray screens, but they weren't visible during program material, including flat fields such as the sky in the snow, and were nowhere near as distracting as the banding we saw on larger Sharp sets, such as the LC-52D64U. Off-angle performance was about average; when viewed from either side, dark areas didn't wash out as much as we've seen on some other LCDs, but on the flipside, that bluish tinge to blacks intensified.

Standard-definition: The Sharp is a below-average standard-definition performer. Resolution looked relatively soft, both when checking test patterns and in the grass and stone bridge of the detail test. Noise reduction doesn't do much to clean up the motes and moving interference in the shots of skies and sunsets, even when we turned it up all the way. The LC-32D44U did a great job of removing jaggies, however, and engaged 2:3 pull-down detection quickly and effectively once we activated film mode.

PC: When connected via the analog input the Sharp didn't look as good as the Insignia. It introduced some soft edges around text and didn't resolve every line of horizontal resolution, according to our DisplayMate test. Note that to get the display to look its best via analog, you need to set the "Input Mode" from its default of 1,024x768 to 1,360x768. Surprisingly, the LC-32D44U also failed to completely resolve every detail of 1,360x768 when connected via digital (from the computer's DVI jack to the TV's HDMI), although the image did look better than analog.

  RESULT SCORE
Before color temp (20/80) 6433/6285 Good
After color temp N/A  
Before grayscale variation +/- 191K Good
After grayscale variation N/A  
Color of red (x/y) 0.613/0.334 Poor
Color of green 0.273/0.554 Poor
Color of blue 0.148/0.068 Good
Overscan 0.0% Good
Defeatable edge enhancement N Poor
480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps Pass Good
1080i video resolution Pass Good
1080i film resolution Fail Poor

Sharp LC-32D44U Picture settings
Default Calibrated Power Save
Picture on (watts) 126.25 59.75  
Picture on (watts/sq. inch) 0.29 0.14  
Standby (watts) 0.91 0.91  
Cost per year $38.89 $18.70  
Score (considering size) Average
Score (overall) Good
*Cost per year based on 2007 average U.S. residential electricity cost of 10.6 cents per kw/hr at 8 hours on/16 hours off per day.

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