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Sharp AQUOS LC-45G review: Sharp AQUOS LC-45G

Sharp AQUOS LC-45G

Kevin Miller

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5 min read

Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.

6.8

Sharp AQUOS LC-45G

The Good

Full 1080p native resolution; attractive styling; comprehensive connectivity; excellent feature package.

The Bad

Expensive; inconsistent color; cannot fully resolve 1,920x1,080 HD signals.

The Bottom Line

If you must have a large-screen LCD, this one's a decent choice, although plasma does offer better value.
Sharp LC-45GX6U
Sharp has long been a leader in LCD products, and the company is at the heart of heated competition between LCD and plasma for your big-screen flat-panel dollars. In LCD's favor, the price vs. size gap is narrowing rapidly, although it's nowhere near parity yet: you'll still pay a hefty premium for a big-screen LCD. At 45 inches diagonal, the Sharp LC-45GX6U is one of the largest direct-view LCD TVs money can buy, and its native 1080p resolution bests that of every plasma currently on the market. However, resolution is only one ingredient in picture quality, and while the big Sharp does some things well, it has too many performance issues to earn our full recommendation. For now, at least, like-size plasmas such as Panasonic's TH-50PHD7UY trump this Sharp in both image quality and value. In terms of appearance and industrial design, the LC-45GX6U is quite impressive. Its outer frame is finished in a metallic gray, darker than the silver typical of some sets, and a black bezel surrounds the outer edge of the screen. The black strip lends to the beauty of the design and also improves the perceived contrast ratio.

The set comes in a stand-alone version, model LC-45GD6U, but the LC-45GX6U that we reviewed includes an outboard A/V controller that acts as an A/V source switcher. The controller is finished in the same metallic gray as the set itself, is the size of a standard A/V component, and routes all video signals to the panel via a 10-foot proprietary cable. A 33-foot version (model AN-HV6AV1, $199) is also available.

Sharp includes an integrated table stand with this set, which you can detach in favor of an optional wall mount if you so desire. Likewise, you can also remove the single-piece stereo speaker that runs along the bottom of the panel. If you prefer the appearance of side-mounted speakers, the LC-45GD4U may be more to your liking.

The backlit remote is quite large, with seemingly a zillion buttons in varying sizes and shapes, making it pretty awkward to use. We were disappointed to find that it doesn't have direct-access keys for input/source selection. The internal menu system is straightforward and fairly easy to navigate, although beginners may find the myriad options intimidating at first.

Aside from Samsung's 46-inch LTP468W, this Sharp is the largest currently available flat-panel LCD TV--although larger ones were announced at CES 2005. With a native resolution of 1,920x1,080, the LC-45GX6U has enough pixels to display every bit of detail from the highest-resolution HDTV format (1080i), but it didn't quite realize that potential in our tests (see Performance for more). Its internal scalar fills the screen with all other sources, including 720p HDTV, standard-definition video, and computer.

Convenience features abound on the LC-45GX6U. Dual-tuner PIP (picture-in-picture) will appeal to sports fans wanting to keep tabs on more than one game at a time. A built-in ATSC tuner lets you get off-air HDTV broadcasts without an external HDTV tuner, while a Digital Cable Ready CableCard slot makes it possible to receive digital and high-def cable without a cable box. The front of the A/V controller also has a slot that accepts PC Card adapters for various types of flash memory, so you can easily display photos on the big screen.

Performance-enhancing features include four selectable color temperature settings, five picture presets as well as a custom mode that includes independent input memories, and a setting that engages 2:3 pull-down detection for film-based video sources. The CMS (color management system) allows you to at least partially correct the errant color decoder. There are also four View Modes (aspect ratios) that work with standard-def, high-def, and computer sources.

Connectivity options are quite comprehensive. The external A/V controller houses all of the inputs and outputs and sends the signals to the panel via a proprietary cable with three connections (DVI for video, plus audio and control connectors). On the back of the controller, you'll find one DVI and one HDMI input--the former compatible with PCs and Macs that have DVI outputs, up to 1,280x1,024 resolution. There are also two component-video inputs, one S-Video input, two composite-video inputs, and two FireWire ports. A set of monitor A/V outputs with composite video only and an RS-232 control port for use with touch-panel control systems such as Crestron and AMX are also included. A center-channel input and an optical digital audio output round out the jack pack.

Overall we found the LC-45GX6U's image quality a bit disappointing for such a high-end set. Out-of-the-box performance leaves something to be desired, making calibration a real must for optimum performance. Even after calibration, however, poor grayscale tracking (the ability to maintain a consistent color temperature at varying brightness levels; see the geek box) in particular makes this LCD difficult to recommend for demanding home-theater applications.

In the plus column, the LC-45GX6U's black-level performance is actually better than that of most other LCD direct-views. When the backlight control is set correctly, you get a reasonably deep black, although it's still not as good as the best plasmas or DLP-based sets. Unfortunately, when we set our Denon DVD-2900's black level correctly (at 0 IRE), material darker than 10 percent above black was crushed, rendering important shadow details invisible. That issue aside, the opening of Alien, a sequence of very dark scenes, revealed quiet blacks with little or no visible low-level noise or artifacts.

The LC-45GX6U has severe red push out of the box, but Sharp's CMS (color management system) allows a professional to get rid of most of it. This control potentially allows inexperienced users to really screw up the color, although happily Sharp does provide a reset option. After adjustment, the opening scenes of the Pirates of the Caribbean DVD revealed excellent color saturation. Because of the relatively poor grayscale tracking, however, skin tones definitely looked a little unnatural.

We used our JVC D-VHS deck to evaluate HDTV image quality. The D-VHS version of Behind Enemy Lines looked really good, with awesome detail and good color saturation. The panel's high pixel count really brought out details that aren't available in lower-resolution displays. Nonetheless, according to our Accupel HDG-3000 signal generator, the panel doesn't quite fully resolve the 1,920x1,080 resolution test pattern via either component or DVI. We expect that this slight loss of detail is caused by the internal scalar.

TEST RESULT SCORE
Before color temp (20/80) 9,800/6,800K Poor
After color temp (20/80) 8,575/6,675K Poor
Before grayscale variation +/-1,042K Poor
After grayscale variation +/-597K Poor
Overscan 3 % Average
Color decoder error: red +15% (+5%) Poor
Color decoder error: green +5% (0%) Good
DC restoration All patterns stable Good
2:3 pull-down, 24fps Y Good
Defeatable edge enhancement Y Good
6.8

Sharp AQUOS LC-45G

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 5
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