Sharp Aquos LC-D65U review: Sharp Aquos LC-D65U

Sharp Aquos LC-D65U

David Katzmaier

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
10 min read

Editors' note: The rating on this review has been lowered because of changes in the competitive marketplace.


Sharp Aquos LC-D65U

The Good

Relatively inexpensive; accurate color after calibration; energy-efficient; numerous picture controls; superb connectivity with five HDMI inputs; understated, no-nonsense styling.

The Bad

Produces lighter blacks than some LCDs; poor off-angle viewing characteristics; below-average standard-definition processing.

The Bottom Line

Excellent energy savings and decent picture quality make the Sharp LC-52D65U a solid value among bigger-screen LCDs.

In November, Energy Star will update its certification for televisions with a new standard, Version 3.0, that for the first time takes into account actual power used when the TV is turned on. We've tested numerous HDTVs this year that comply with the new standard, and the Sharp LC-52D65U is the most efficient, if only by a few watts. Yes, there is one exception, Philips' Eco TV, but its efficiency comes at the expense of picture quality. The LC-52D65U delivers better picture than the Philips and many other entry-level sets, although its performance is not without its flaws. That said, the relatively affordable price, decent picture, and power savings of the Sharp LC-52D65U will certainly earn it a large share of admirers.

Sharp's latest Aquos is, well, sharper than previous years' rounded designs, with a perfectly rectangular hard-edged panel and an angled bezel surrounding the big screen. Below the screen stretches a thin gray strip for the speakers, separated from the glossy black surrounded by a chrome-colored accent line. One fly in the external design ointment is the glossy, plastic, nonswiveling stand, which doesn't seem up to the standards of the rest of the panel--maybe it's the rounded corners on the stand's base.

If you keep the stand attached, the LC-52D65U measures 49.3 inches wide by 33.8 inches tall by 12.8 inches deep and weighs a feathery 63.9 pounds. Ditch the stand and the panel comes in at 49.3 inches tall by 31.4 inches wide by 3.8 inches deep and 52.9 pounds. This is easily one of the most compact 52-inch televisions on the market.

Despite redesigning its displays nearly every year, it's been eons since Sharp touched its remote controls. The LC-52D65U's clicker is basically the same as the one that shipped with the LC-46D62U, which we reviewed in 2006. Our opinion hasn't changed, so we'll just quote that review: "Sharp's long remote will be familiar to anyone who's played with an Aquos set in the last couple of years. It has full orange backlighting, the ability to command four other pieces of gear, keys that are nicely spread out and well differentiated, and a generally logical button layout. We say 'generally' because the key controlling 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."

One notable addition to Sharp's venerable remote is a prominent "power saving" key, located right next to the volume rocker.

Sharp's menu system design is also basically the same as in previous years, and its blocky look seems dated compared with the slick menus available from Sony and Samsung, for example. The pertinent information is all there, however, and we liked the text explanations that accompany various selections.

The big selling point of Sharp's D65U series revolves around saving energy. According to our testing, this is one of the most-efficient TVs of its size on the market, and we assume that the smaller members of the line--it's also available in 42- and 46-inch sizes--will offer similar energy savings. Naturally all three are Energy Star 3.0-compliant, and include the requisite home/store initial setup query that modifies the default picture mode (more information).

The Sharp's special power saving mode must be engaged manually via the menu.

When you engage the OPC room lighting sensor, tree-hugging green leaf icons appear to tell you how much energy you're saving.

This TV uses a new power saving mode that's notably not engaged by default--you have to manually select one of two options in the menu or hit the remote's dedicated button. We prefer the manual selection because we believe default settings should be as basic as possible. Choosing Standard power saving mode causes the display to "optimize power consumption based on video content" and, while choosing Advanced also incorporates a room lighting sensor Sharp calls "OPC." Additionally, you can adjust the sensitivity of OPC and choose to have the TV turn off automatically after a set period of time if it doesn't sense a signal (15 minutes) and/or you don't press any buttons on the TV or remote (3 hours).

In our testing of default mode versus the Standard power saving modes (we didn't choose Advanced because we do not currently account for room lighting sensors into our power test methodology), the LC-52D65U saved just 10 watts when we engaged power saving. That might explain why we could barely detect a difference between the picture quality in Off versus Power Saving mode. Check out the Juice Box below for the numbers.

Sharp has added detailed color temperature controls to complement the five presets.

The company's trademark wheel of color makes the color management system a bit easier to understand.

A wide range of picture controls is available on the LC-52D65U. There are seven total picture modes, five of which can be adjusted, one of which cannot, and one, titled User, that's independent per input. Among advanced controls, the most notable addition is a new menu that lets you set white balance for red, green, and blue, which can help hone the TV's color temperature beyond the five presets. A full color management system is available, along with a film mode to control 2:3 pull-down; a setting that changes the picture dynamically to optimize contrast (we left it off); an "Image Compensation" setting that supposedly optimizes the picture for fast- or slow-moving content; four flavors of noise reduction; and Sharp's peculiar "monochrome" setting that turns everything black-and-white. In all, this is the most adjustable TV Sharp HDTV we've ever reviewed.

The LC-52D65U lacks picture-in-picture, but it does include an option to freeze the onscreen image so you can write down a phone number, for example.

For an entry-level set, the Sharp's inclusion of five HDMI inputs, four on the rear panel seen here and another on the side, represents a new high.

Connectivity is excellent on the LC52D65U. As a late-model TV we expected a handful of HDMI inputs, but its total of five is generous by any standard. Four can be found on the back panel while a fifth is located on the right side. Other jacks include two component-video, one VGA-style PC (1,600x1,200-pixel maximum resolution), one RF for antenna or cable, and two standard-definition inputs (one composite- and one S-Video) that, if connected, each replace a component-video input. There's also an optical digital audio output, an analog stereo audio output and an RS-232 connection for custom control systems. That side panel adds another composite-video connection, but the USB-style port is for "service only," not for photos or music.

All told, the Sharp LC-52D65U is a capable performer, especially considering its relatively affordable price. Black levels and color accuracy aren't as good as many higher-end models we've tested, but they're still solid thanks to the improved picture adjustment options. Off-angle viewing is a weakness, but we were happy to note the infamous "banding" seen on previous Sharps is a thing of the past.

During calibration, the range of controls allowed us to tweak the Sharp's color for a significant improvement over the default settings. We honed color temperature and primary colors, and while the end results were not perfect--color temperature in dark areas, in particular, was an issue--they were still well within the range of acceptable. In particular, we appreciated the color management system, which seemed to work better than in the past. Check out our full picture settings at the end of this blog post for details.

Before our formal image quality tests, we checked out the image quality impact of Sharp's power saver setting. We're happy to report that, unlike with the Philips Eco TV, the effects were subtle and didn't affect our enjoyment of program material. We did detect some slight variation in the backlight brightness with test patterns, but that's about it. Engaging power saving only saved a tiny bit of power, however, so videophiles might want to leave it turned off anyway. Note that we didn't test any mode that engaged the OPC room lighting sensor--as usual, we find that its automatic adjustments aren't as effective from a picture quality perspective as simply changing the picture mode manually for different lighting conditions.

After setup, we lined up the Sharp against a few other like-size, albeit more-expensive, HDTVs for comparison, namely the Samsung LN52A650, the Sony KDL-46W4100 and KDL-52XBR6, our reference plasma the Pioneer PRO-111FD and the Panasonic TH-50PZ800U. We checked out the Blu-ray Disc of Die Another Day on our PlayStation 3.

Black level: Compared with the other sets in our lineup, the LC-52D65U didn't deliver quite as deep a shade of black. Considering the extra cost of those models and the Sharp, however, the difference in black level wasn't drastic. In brighter scenes the difference was less noticeable, as usual, but in dark shots, such as when Bond makes his escape from the hospital ship, the night sky, the letterbox bars, and the shadows along the dock appeared a bit lighter than the other displays. We noticed more of a difference on even darker scenes, such as the Bronson-Berry lovemaking in Havana, which also revealed that the Sharp's shadow detail wasn't quite as natural as the competition's. Details in their shadowed faces, for example, looked a bit brighter than we'd like to see.

Color accuracy: After adjustment, the Sharp competed relatively well in color accuracy; although, again, it was a step behind the other displays. Our biggest complaint had to do with its bluish-reddish tinge in black and very dark areas, which affected Bond's tux and dark hair, for example. In bright scenes, however, such as the streets of Havana, colors looked much better, with good pop. Driving his convertible down the Cuban highway, Bond's skin tone did seem just a bit more washed-out than on most of the other displays. When he arrived at his hotel, the saturation in some lush objects, such as the pineapple at the bar, the green plans in the background, and the orange of Halle Berry's swimsuit, were somewhat less saturated, but again the difference wasn't a deal-breaker.

Video processing: In terms of resolution, the LC-52D65U resolved every detail of 1080i and 1080p sources, properly deinterlaced both video- and film-based sources, and scored between 300 and 400 lines of motion resolution--about what we expect from a non-120Hz LCD. We checked out the Sharp's two I/P settings, which are supposed to be optimized for fast-motion and slower-moving images, and couldn't see any difference between them. As usual, it was hard to detect any difference in resolution--motion or otherwise--between any of the displays when watching actual program material.

Here's where we'll also note a mild blip we've never encountered before. Occasionally when we skipped chapters or paused the action, the TV would flash a black screen briefly before locking back onto the picture. It didn't happen on our DirecTV satellite box in our experience, just on the PS3, and we didn't notice it on analog sources.

Uniformity: Unlike previous Sharp displays we've tested, the LC-52D65U didn't suffer from any overt uniformity issues. Those models exhibited obvious bands of varying brightness across the screen, an issue we attribute to the design of the backlight. On the D65U, however, no banding was visible in full-screen test patterns, and naturally we didn't see any during actual program material.

Like most LCDs, the D65U wasn't perfectly uniform across the screen, however. Its sides appeared a bit brighter than its middle, and the corners a tad darker in test patterns; again, these issues were difficult to spot in program material, and so weren't distracting by any means. When seen from off-angle, the Sharp's screen washed out more quickly than either the Sonys or the Samsungs, and bluish discoloration set in that was again somewhat more noticeable than on the other LCD displays.

Bright lighting: As with other matte-screen LCDs, the Sharp LC-52D65U performed well in a bright lighting environment. It showed dimmer reflections from in-room lighting sources than either the Samsung LCD or the plasmas, although it didn't maintain black levels as well as the Samsung.

Standard-definition: The LC-52D65U performed below average with standard-definition material from the HQV test disc. It resolved every line of the DVD format, although the detail shot, which includes the grass and the stone bridge, appeared relatively soft. It did a worse job reducing jaggies in moving diagonal lines and a waving American flag than most displays we've tested recently, although its three strengths of noise reduction performed well when asked to clean up difficult, low-quality shots of skies, flowers, and sunsets. Finally, its film mode kicked in quickly to provide proper 2:3 pull-down detection.

PC: Unlike most 1080p LCDs, the Sharp LC-52D64U isn't that adept with PC sources delivered via VGA. The manual states that the highest resolution the TV can accept via analog is 1,600x1,200, and in our tests that resolution worked OK except that it didn't fill the screen. The highest resolution that did was 1,360x768, which looked even worse than we expected, with blocky lines and text which, in the 10-point font size, rendered text that was basically illegible. Via HDMI, the Sharp performed as well as we expect of any 1080p LCD, delivering every line of a 1,920x1,080-pixel source with great-looking text and no overscan. We did detect a bit of edge enhancement that we couldn't eliminate without softening the image, but it was minor.

Before color temp (20/80) 6560/6592 Good
After color temp 6616/6435 Good
Before grayscale variation +/- 130 Good
After grayscale variation +/- 118 Average
Color of red (x/y) 0.633/0.337 Good
Color of green 0.271/0.591 Average
Color of blue 0.149/0.059 Good
Overscan 0.0% Good
Defeatable edge enhancement Pass Good
480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps Pass Good
1080i video resolution Pass Good
1080i film resolution Pass Good

Sharp LC52D65U Picture settings
Default Calibrated Power Save
Picture on (watts) 210.35 121.6 199.31
Picture on (watts/sq. inch) 0.18 0.11 0.17
Standby (watts) 0 0 0
Cost per year $65.11 $37.64 $61.69
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.

How we test TVs.


Sharp Aquos LC-D65U

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 6
Get the best price on everything
Shop your favorite products and we’ll find the best deal with a single click. Designed to make shopping easier.
Add CNET Shopping