Out of the box, Sharp's 37-inch Aquos LC37AX3X LCD screen didn't immediately appeal to us. The quality of the materials was sub par or at least it felt that way and the cheap looking exterior gave us the feeling that we were about to test a very ordinary product. However, just like a book, you can't tell the quality of a TV just be looking at its cover.
The LC37AX3X features an adjustable swivelling stand that can be removed should you wish to wall mount the screen. Controls are placed at the top of the screen, which is annoying if you're planning to wall mount the TV. The two speakers run across the base of the screen and its titanium coloured finish looked terrible. It doesn't help that the remote control is without doubt the ugliest remote we've ever come across. The screen features an integrated analog tuner.
It was disappointing to see that there's no integrated high definition tuner with the LC37AX3X. A digital set-top box will cost you around AU$500 on top of this but this is not necessary as there's still an analog tuner provided. Fortunately the screen still has a lot going for it. Native resolution for the LC37AX3X is 1366x768 pixels and it has a 170 degree viewing angle, which is good for a screen this size. Contrast ratio is 800:1 and brightness levels are 450 cd/m2, which is only average compared with competing brands. The LC37AX3X features advanced optimal picture control as well as adjustable colour temperature settings.
Inputs include the usual component and composite connections plus a single S-Video and HDMI adaptors. We would have liked to have seen DVI or VGA adaptors to connect up a PC but the LC37AX3X were lacking these.
Picture quality of the LC37AX3X is amazing despite it having lower specs to those of foreign delivered models. Images are crisp and sharp while colours are rich and have depth to them. It's important that you play around with the settings until you reach a point that you're happy with. Little things like adjusting the brightness, colour or contrast can make a huge difference to the quality of the projected image.
The menu system was easy to use along with the remote control. Running a Digital Video Essentials reference pattern disc through an all-digital HDMI lead was a pleasant process. After watching the initial demonstrations we were able to fine-tune the settings using the audio and video segments. Then it was time to watch some movies. We popped in a copy of classic film noir classic Blade Runner. Black scenes with subtle detailing such as shadows normally come out terrible with LCDs. However, the LC37AX3X presented good amounts of detail with hardly any blurring of motion. The matte finish of the screen, which reflects glare, does affect dark scenes to some degree giving them a grey wash.
To test the integrated analog tuner we watched the nightly news. Skin tones looked realistic and lines were sharp and well defined. However, in some instances we could detect blurring or "noise" around some characters on TV, but this was most likely due to the quality of our signal. Sound from the speakers was loud, though bass was weak. Voices were clear and concise but overall quality was nothing to get excited about. Virtual surround affects were hardly noticeable. We'd recommend you get a decent set of home theatre speakers. Don't be turned off by Sharp's uninspiring design. The Aquos LC37AX3X presents some of the best images we've seen from an LCD.
Support from Sharp comes in the form of a three-year warranty for the LC37AX3X and a customer service helpline as well as downloadable manuals from its website.