X

Sharp Aquos LC-GP1U review: Sharp Aquos LC-GP1U

Despite plenty of features and mostly good picture quality, the Sharp LC-32GP1U's high price makes it difficult to recommend over similarly sized LCDs.

David_Katzmaier.jpg
David Katzmaier
David_Katzmaier.jpg

David Katzmaier

Editorial Director -- TVs and streaming

David has reviewed TVs, streaming services, streaming devices and home entertainment gear at CNET since 2002. He is an ISF certified, NIST trained calibrator and developed CNET's TV test procedure himself. Previously David wrote reviews and features for Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as "The Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics."

See full bio
8 min read

CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.


Console-based video games--whether played on the Microsoft Xbox 360, the Sony PlayStation 3, the Nintendo Wii or something else--are a major reason why people buy HDTVs. So it stands to reason that most manufacturers have a game mode on their HDTVs, which usually involves brighter picture settings, claims of eliminating lag between the controller and onscreen action, and other hyperbole. Sharp has had a picture setting labeled "game" for quite a while, but the LC-32GP1U is the first HDTV it's marketed specifically toward gamers. The meat behind the marketing consists of a prominent Game button on the remote and 1080p native resolution. The latter feature is difficult to appreciate on a 32-inch HDTV, and despite the prominence of the button, it doesn't seem to have much effect aside from switching inputs. As a gaming display, the LC-32GP1U doesn't offer any more than your typical LCD, and although its overall image quality is nothing to sneeze at, it's hard to justify the Sharp's relatively high price.

7.2

Sharp Aquos LC-GP1U

The Good

The Sharp LC-32GP1U HDTV resolves every detail of 1080i and 1080p sources; delivers relatively deep black levels; slick design; excellent connectivity with one DVI and three HDMI inputs.

The Bad

Expensive; benefits of 1080p resolution not apparent at this screen size; inaccurate color temperature.

The Bottom Line

Despite plenty of features and mostly good picture quality, the Sharp LC-32GP1U's high price makes it difficult to recommend over similarly sized LCDs.
Sharp LC-32GP1U

Design
Sharp dressed its best 32-inch LCD TV the same as its larger brethren, such as the 52-inch LC-52D92U, and we like the look overall. A squared-off frame of glossy black surrounds the screen, and along the bottom there's a strip of chrome that bows downward in the middle like a sly grin. Below the chrome is an area of microperforated plastic that hides the speakers, and a glossy, black stand that seems a bit large for a TV of this size. Including the stand, the set measures 31.4x23.3x10.8 inches and weighs 44 pounds. Remove the stand, and you get a panel with dimensions of 31.4x20.9x3.8 inches.

The company has been using the same remote for years, and the LC-32GP1U continues the tradition. It has full orange backlighting, the ability to command four other pieces of gear, keys that are nicely spread out and differentiated well, and a generally logical button layout. We say "generally" because the key to control aspect ratio is stashed clear at the top of the long wand, the one for freezing the image is given an unduly important spot near the main directional keypad, and the one for changing picture modes is hidden beneath a flip-up hatch. The menu system is simple enough to navigate and includes helpful explanations that appear along the bottom.

Features
At the top of the Sharp LC-32GP1U's feature list is 1080p native resolution, which surpasses that of any other 32-inch HDTVs we know of. All of those extra pixels allow the set to display every line of 1080i and 1080p sources, although you'll be hard-pressed to see the difference even from a close seating distance (see Performance for more). As always, all other sources, including 720p HDTV, DVD, standard-definition television, and computer sources are scaled to fit the available pixels.

Sharp makes a big deal about the gaming capabilities of this display but, as far as we could tell from using it and from reading the manual, pressing the button labeled Game just toggles between the side-panel inputs: HDMI and component or composite video (inputs 4 and 1, respectively). It doesn't actually engage the "Game" picture mode or any other sort of processing we could detect, although the manual claims it displays signals from these inputs "at the optimum speed." We suppose it's nice to have quick access to the side inputs, but if you happen to connect your console to another jack--say, one of the rear-panel jacks--then the button's label might be confusing.

The LC-32GP1U's array of picture controls, although less extensive than that of many HDTVs, offers a healthy total of seven picture modes, including the aforementioned Game mode. One of those picture modes, labeled "Dynamic (fixed)," cannot be adjusted; five others can; and the seventh, labeled "User," is independent per input. We appreciated the wide range of the backlighting control, which affects overall light output. There's a setting labeled "OPC" that adjusts the picture according to room lighting; a choice of five color temperature presets (Low came closest to the standard); a Black control that adjusts the image according to picture content (we left it off); and a Film Mode setting that engages 2:3 pull-down detection. Unfortunately more-advanced settings, such as a user-adjustable color temperature fine-tuning option, go missing.

Aspect ratio control includes four choices for HD and standard-definition sources, including a dot-by-dot option that displays the incoming resolution without scaling it. For 1080i and 1080p sources, of course, that means they'll be displayed with no overscan and at perfect, full resolution, so we recommend using dot-by-dot with those sources.

People who like to divide their attention might lament the omission of a picture-in-picture. Like all new HDTVs with tuners, the LC-32GP1U has an ATSC version for grabbing over-the-air HDTV. Aside from input labeling and a freeze function, that's about if for conveniences.

We were duly impressed by the LC-32GP1U's smorgasbord of connections. There are three total HDMI inputs as well as a DVI input for PCs (maximum resolution 1,920x1,080). There are also two component video inputs and an A/V input with composite and S-Video connections. As we mentioned, the side panel sprouts one of the three HDMI inputs, one of the two component video inputs, and a composite video input. Finally there's an RF input for an antenna and cable along with an optical digital audio output.

Sharp also makes a 37-inch gaming-friendly HDTV, the LC-37GP1U, which is identical to this one except for screen size.

Performance
The Sharp delivers a good picture in most respects, with relatively deep black levels, a clean image, and solid video processing. But its Achilles' heel is color accuracy, and the fact that color temperature cannot be improved beyond the relatively blue Warm preset. It's also worth noting that 1080p at this size just doesn't provide much benefit.

We started by adjusting the Sharp LC-32GP1U for our darkened home theater, which first meant reducing its light output to a reasonable level for the lighting environment--around 40 FTL. We would have liked to adjust the Sharp's color temperature, mainly because the Warm setting was just too blue, but as we mentioned the user menu lacks an option for fine-tuning color temperature, and calibrating Sharp displays in the service menu isn't worth the effort, in our experience. For a full roster of our user-menu picture settings, click here or check out Tips & Tricks section above.

That bluish grayscale came across in program material when we slipped the Ultraviolet Blu-ray disc into our Samsung BD-P1000 and compared the Sharp with a couple of other 32-inch LCDs we had on hand: the Vizio VX32L HDTV and the Samsung LN-T3253H. When Milla Jovovich takes off her motorcycle helmet, for example, her pale skin was tinged a bit bluer on the Sharp than on the other displays. The white walls of the compound also looked a bit too blue, although as usual the difference was most noticeable in skin tones. We also had to back the color control down a bit to avoid discoloring skin tones further, because the Sharp's color decoding evinced some red push.

Black-level performance on the Sharp was good for a 32-inch LCD, although the black and shadowy areas of the picture didn't get as deep as with the company's larger LCDs we've tested. As Jovovich walks naked through the dark, violet-lit corridor, for example, we saw about the same depth of black in the dark ceiling as on the Samsung and definitely a deeper black than on the Vizio. The walls of the corridor showed a bit more false contouring on the Sharp than on the Samsung, although the difference was slight compared to the Vizio, which was the worst offender on that difficult scene. The Sharp's picture was quite clean in dark and brighter areas, with a tad less video noise than either of the other displays.

Details in shadows appeared a bit less realistic on the Sharp. As Jovovich emerges into the dark dressing room, for example, we could make out a bit more of the areas around a shadowed eye and the areas at the nape of her neck viewing them on the Vizio and the Samsung. The difference was subtle, however, and shadowy areas still looked more realistic on the Sharp than on the Vizio, because the latter had a steeper rise from black to lighter areas, making some shadows appear too bright.

We weren't surprised that it was basically impossible to discern the difference in detail between the 1080p Sharp and the other two lower-resolution displays. That has a lot to do with screen size; the 32-inch LC-32GP1U is just too small to really show off the benefits of 1080p. Even from a seating distance of four feet away, we couldn't really see more detail in the Sharp as the camera moved over the futuristic cityscape or took in a wide shot of buildings and fine wires. Unless you sit very close to the TV and watch a lot of very detailed content, the extra resolution at this size won't provide much benefit. We were impressed, however, that the Sharp passed the HQV test for preserving all of the resolution in film-based 1080i sources, a test that many HDTVs we've reviewed recently failed.

Screen uniformity on the LC-32GP1U was very good for an LCD. There was none of the "banding" that plagued this set's larger brethren, and differences in brightness from one area of the screen to another were slight and didn't show up on program material. We also liked the fact that off-angle viewing didn't wash out or discolor the image too much; the Sharp's image maintained about the same quality when viewed from an extreme angle as the Samsung's did, and it was much better than the Vizio's.

In case you're wondering, we did a little gaming on the Sharp, playing a few rounds of MotorStorm on a PlayStation 3. Yes, the game looked spectacular, but the same could be said for its appearance on the Vizio and on the Samsung. We had a nearly impossible time seeing any difference in detail, and there was no lag we could detect between our controller and the onscreen action, on any of the displays.

Judging from our standard HQV DVD test, the Sharp LC-32GP1U's performance with standard-definition sources was good. It did a fair job of smoothing out jagged edges in moving diagonal lines and a waving American flag, although we still saw some stair-step artifacts. Details were quite sharp on the stone bridge and the grass, and the set had no trouble resolving every line of the DVD format. We were impressed by the Sharp's noise reduction in the High setting, which cleaned up the mote-infested skies and sunsets better than either the Samsung or the Vizio without compromising much sharpness. The set also quickly implemented 2:3 pull-down detection and processing, eliminating moire from the grandstands behind the speeding car.

With PC sources delivered via the DVI input, the Sharp really looked great. We were able to set our graphics card to output at the full 1,920x1,080 resolution, and according to DisplayMate, the set resolved every line in both the horizontal and vertical axes. In dot-by-dot mode, which we recommend using with PC sources, the set didn't have any overscan, so the Windows taskbar and other onscreen elements were displayed in full. Text was generally sharp, although it wasn't quite as smooth as with some displays we've seen. Nonetheless the 32-inch LC-32GP1U does make an excellent big-screen computer monitor.

TEST RESULT SCORE
Before color temp (20/80) 7885/7164K Poor
After color temp N/A  
Before grayscale variation +/- 880K Average
After grayscale variation N/A  
Color of red (x/y) 0.650/0.325 Good
Color of green 0.259/0.602 Average
Color of blue 0.145/0.064 Good
Overscan 0 percent Good
Black-level retention All patterns stable Good
Defeatable edge enhancement Y Good
480i 2:3 pull-down, 24fps Y Good
1080i video resolution Pass Good
1080i film resolution Pass Good

7.2

Sharp Aquos LC-GP1U

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 6