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Sharp Aquos LC-52PD7X

Sharp has ticked all the boxes for launching a seriously tantalising LCD offering, including larger size options, HD tuners, 1080p resolution and a stylish design.

Sharp's 108-inch TV is currently the world's largest LCD. Read more....

Of late, the conventional wisdom has been to buy an LCD TV for screen sizes below 42-inches, and plasma for 42-inches or above. Sharp is leading the charge to have that kind of thinking reassessed, announcing the Australian launch of its new PD7 series.

No, the range doesn't include the 108-inch whopper that Sharp showed off at CES -- Sharp Australia had it on display at the PD7 launch function, but it's not yet in mass production. You can however, get a PD7 in a 52-, 46-, or 42-inch screen size.

Upside
Whether Sharp intended it or not, the briefing seemed to have a P theme -- bear with me on this:

1080p -- All PD7s are 1080p, that is 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution. The highest resolution for a 'full' HD panel, the PD7 series is poised to exploit the growing interest in and availability of Blu-ray and HD DVD high definition video players, gaming consoles and high-def content.

Piano Black -- All of the PD7 models a come in a smart piano black finish. This is hardly a new innovation in the TV market, but it is certainly a stylish improvement from the Sharp product design team. These high-end babies will most likely be holding pride of place in your lounge room and need to be worthy of the centre stage. If you want to get a bigger screen than 52-inches, Sharp still offers the 65-inch LC-65GSX, but only in the now older-style gunmetal finish.

OK, they don't start with P, but other good stuff -- The 52-inch LC-52PD7X and its 46-inch sibling boast built-in HD tuners, a 10:000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, 4 ms response time, dual HDMI inputs, 176 degree viewing angles and a 60,000-hour lamp life. There's also a new four-wavelength backlight system that Sharp claims will deliver purer, more natural reds.

Downside
Plant -- Sharp hammered home its belief that producing the PD7 series in its new plant in Kameyama, Japan will be key to its success. Don't get me wrong, it's great that the TVs are made in such an advanced, high-tech factory that is environmentally friendly to boot, but stand in any TV retailer for a few hours and you'll probably find that most buyers don't give two hoots if the set was made in Timbuktu, they're mostly concerned with the....

Price -- The PD7s certainly bring the big screen size fight to the heart of plasma territory, but the prices still carry a premium. Prices for the 52-, 46-, or 42-inch Sharp models start at AU$9999, AU$7499, and AU$5699 respectively.

Outlook
Sharp has ticked all the boxes for launching a seriously tantalising big screen offering, including larger size options, HD tuners, 1080p resolution and a stylish design. The pricing, while still on the dear side, is in line with current LCD 1080p competitors from Sony and Samsung. We can only hope this new Kameyama plant will boost production to the point where LCD prices, even for the high-end flash models, will continue to decline.

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