Like TEAC and a number of other brands before it, it seems Sanyo is trying to reinvent itself: from a budget brand to a premium manufacturer. However, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that this takes a lot of work -- especially when your name equals "cheap" in many people's minds.
Far from budget-looking, the fit and finish on the LCD47XR2 is very good. The two-tone colour scheme may be a little dated, but if it weren't for the name badge this would look every bit a top-end TV. The speakers are detachable, which gives you a little bit of flexibility, as well.
Even the remote looks and feels luxurious, with its curved build and stylised buttons. Pity it's got way too many buttons, and the volume and channel controls are so small.
Of course, the panel's main claim to fame is that it's a 1080p natural resolution -- but this is a market that's getting more crowded all the time. Considering the high price, the feature count is down on what we'd expect from an '07/'08 LCD television. For example, there isn't a digital tuner on this television -- inexcusable for a 1080p screen. Plus, there are only two HDMI ports where its competitors boast three, and a lack of a 100Hz mode or support for 24p.
Like many LCDs, the surface of the LCD47XR2's panel is matte -- which means less reflections. Without a high-contrast coating, black levels are also relatively low at 1000:1, though probably more honest for it.
Like some other televisions on the market, the Sanyo features a headphone jack, but for some very unusual reason it's on the back and not the front. Weird!
Despite the fact the Sanyo only totes an analog receiver, the results were fairly successful. Watching the final episode of MASH on free-to-air brought a tear to the eye as the TV rendered dialogue particularly well. However, the bassy nature of the sound made everyone sound like a testosteroned DJ, rather than medical officers in the hills of Korea (actually Malibu).
DVD replay was very disappointing, with King Kong putting in an almost cartoonish performance. There was considerable colour stepping in the morning sky of Kong's Last Stand and way too much MPEG noise. Turning the TV's noise reduction to maximum allayed this a little while introducing a dizzying blur to fast motion. Themore than outclassed it here, and at only AU$700 more it makes the Sanyo seem particularly inept for the money.
The problems weren't as severe for high definition, with the panel's 1080p resolution able to dig up some detail, but it wasn't enough. Watching Mission Impossible III introduced some more of the motion blur we'd seen before. In the bridge scene, there are two close-ups of Tom Cruise and Ving Rhames and you can literally count the pores on the men's faces. Replaying this on the Sanyo resulted in the screen obscuring a lot of the detail we know to be there. Only when the actors were deadly still did the detail briefly emerge.
Hooking up a PC was quite underwhelming. We used an Acer media centre with an HDMI output and the result was almost unwatchable -- text was blurry, and the gradients of the Media Center background were stepped and not smooth. Our reference plasma did a much better job of providing readable text.
Apart from the cosmetics, there aren't too many good things we can say about this TV. Twelve months ago, this television would have been a large-screen bargain, but now it's expensive and outclassed by even the premium brands. It's costly, it's out-of-date and it doesn't perform where it counts. Sure, it's cheaper (just!) than a and boasts a whole extra inch of real estate. But what's an inch between friends? Save up some money and get the Sony instead.