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Sharp LC-32D47UT review: Sharp LC-32D47UT

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OVR
4.9

Sharp LC-32D47UT

The Good

Relatively deep black levels for an entry-level LCD; excellent connectivity with three HDMI, two component-video and one PC input; energy-efficient; above average power-saving options.

The Bad

Inaccurate primary and secondary colors and color decoding; subpar video processing and PC performance.

The Bottom Line

Albeit saddled with more picture quality hang-ups than most entry-level LCDs, the Sharp LC-32D47UT does deliver on features and energy efficiency.

Editors' note (March 4, 2010): The rating on this product has been lowered because of changes in the competitive marketplace, including the release of 2010 models. The review has not otherwise been modified. Click here for more information.

None of the cheaper 32-inch LCDs we've compared recently will satisfy viewers seeking the best home theater picture quality. The main strength of the Sharp LC-32D47UT, for example, lies not in the fidelity of its image, but in areas that might be more important to shoppers at the entry-level price point: features and energy efficiency. The former is composed mainly of a third HDMI input, conveniently mounted on the side panel and quite rare for the breed. The latter will only save you a few bucks a year, at most, but over the lifetime of your typical bedroom TV, that can add up. The sacrifice compared with other entry-level sets, despite the Sharp's relatively deep black levels, comes in other areas of picture quality, namely color and video processing. But if you want that third HDMI input and prize eco-consciousness, this little Sharp belongs on your own comparison list.

Design
Although it's attractive enough, nothing much distinguishes the Sharp LC-32D47UT from the rows of identical-looking glossy black plastic LCD TVs out there. A subtle gray strip along the curved bottom edge of the panel adds a bit of contrast to the gloss, and the frame rounds slightly on the top and bottom, but otherwise the little Sharp blends right in. The rectangular stand supports a stalk that, despite appearances otherwise, does not allow the TV to swivel.

Sharp LC-32D47UT
A light sensor (far left) and a few logos are the only interruptions to the Sharp's glossy black frame.

Sharp's oval remote, with its rows of small, like-sized and different-colored buttons, has a toylike quality. We did appreciate the clicker's grouping of similar button groups by proximity, shape, and color, and all of the requisite functions are accounted for. On the downside, the "freeze" button is given too prominent a place and the unit can't command other gear whether via infrared or HDMI, the way some other entry-level TV remotes can.

Sharp LC-32D47UT

Menu design on the LC-32D47UT tends toward the complex and intimidating, and we wish the items in the Advanced menu were accompanied by onscreen explanations. Navigation was relatively logical, nonetheless, and after a learning curve, most users will find their way easily enough.

Features
Like most entry-level LCD TVs the Sharp has a native resolution of 1,366x768 pixels, or 720p, as opposed to the 1080p resolution found on step-up models. Of course, at this screen size the benefits of 1080p are negligible, except with computer sources, so we don't consider this feature omission a big deal. It's worth mentioning that unlike most 720p LCDs we've reviewed, the LC-32D47UT cannot accept 1080p sources (although it can handle 1080i; see Performance for more details).

Sharp LC-32D47UT
The picture menu offers up a solid selection of options.

Like quite a few inexpensive HDTVs we've tested, the Sharp LC-32D47UT has a nice range of picture adjustment options, starting with seven picture modes. Six are adjustable and one of the six, labeled User, is independent per input. Unlike many of its competitors, however, the Sharp lacks the ability to fine-tune color temperature--you're stuck with just the five presets.

Sharp LC-32D47UT
The myriad color adjustments are complex for any level of TV, and not very effective to boot.

More-advanced controls start with a color management system that's as complex as any you'll find, allowing adjustment of Hue, Saturation, and Value for each color. The system wasn't very effective, however (see Performance for more). Other adjustments include three levels of noise reduction, an active contrast setting that adjusts the picture on the fly, and a film mode setting for 2:3 pull-down.

Sharp LC-32D47UT
Power-saving controls include a pair of peak light output limiting modes, one of which incorporates the ambient light sensor.

Sharp also endowed the LC-32D47UT with a feature not found on many TVs in this price range: a room-lighting sensor it calls "OPC," complete with sensitivity controls. Two power-saving modes limit the set's peak light output, one of which adds OPC to the mix.

Four aspect ratio controls are available for both standard- and high-def sources. The "full screen" option with HD sources minimizes overscan, showing as much of the picture as possible, so we recommend using it unless you notice interference along the extreme edges.

Sharp LC-32D47UT
The Sharp's connectivity is excellent, with two HDMI, two component-video, one S-Video, and one PC input on the back panel.

A third HDMI input, located on the side panel, sets the Sharp apart from the two found on many low-buck LCDs. The LC-32D47UT's additional connectivity is also excellent for an entry-level TV, with two component-video jacks (one can accommodate an S-Video connection instead), one VGA-style analog PC input (1,360x768-pixel maximum resolution), an RF input, an optical digital audio output, and an analog audio output. The side panel adds a composite video input as well.

Sharp LC-32D47UT
The side panel adds a third HDMI input as well as the lone composite video connection (the USB port is for service only).

Performance
Picture quality on the entry-level Sharp had its ups and downs, but overall it was among the least impressive of the models we tested. Black levels were deep enough for a low-buck LCD, but color accuracy, video processing and a few other miscues tipped the scales in the negative direction.

TV settings: Sharp LC-32D47UT

Setting the Sharp up for optimal picture quality was a bit more involved (and more frustrating) of a process than with many other less expensive HDTVs. We began by engaging Movie mode, disabling the OPC room-lighting sensor and noting the mode's mostly accurate color temperature in the Low preset--that accuracy was especially welcome since we couldn't tweak color temp beyond choosing a preset. But when we tried adjusting the primary colors and color decoding using the Sharp's controls we couldn't make much headway at all, despite the array of tweaks. We were able to improve the color slightly, compared against the default settings, but not nearly as much as the set needed (see below).

We compared the Sharp directly with a few other entry-level LCDs we had onhand, including the LG 32LH20, the Panasonic TC-L32X1, the Samsung LN32B360, the Sony KDL-32L5000, the Toshiba 32AV502U, the Vizio VO302E, and the Westinghouse SK-32H640G. We also employed our trusty Pioneer PRO-111FD as a reference--obviously, it shouldn't be compared with any of these LCDs. Our Blu-ray of choice for most of the image quality tests in this comparison was the superb-looking "Baraka" played at from our Sony PlayStation3.

Before we go much further it's worth mentioning a couple of odd issues with the Sharp that didn't crop up on the other displays. First, black levels and perhaps some other picture characteristics changed for no reason we could discern when we switched sources. Our settings linked above, and our comments on black levels below, held true for our PS3 Blu-ray source at 1080i, but when we switched to other 1080i sources (a DirecTV HR20 and an Oppo DV-980H upconverting DVD player) black levels became brighter. Second and seemingly unrelated, the picture would on occasion briefly flash to black and back on again twice. The flash to black occurred consistently when skipping chapters on a Blu-ray, or when switching sources. Neither issue is something we consider a deal-breaker on an inexpensive TV, but both are bothersome.

Black level: The LC-32D47UT's best showing in the picture quality department came in dark scenes, when its reproduction of black was relatively deep. It matched the Sony and fell short of the Toshiba and Samsung, outclassing the others in areas like the night sky around the eclipse, the letterbox bars, and the black background behind the credits. Shadow detail, like the rocks and deeper recesses of the foundry in Chapter 17, was also more natural than most of the other sets in our lineup.

Color accuracy: Despite our best efforts with the its color management system, accuracy ended up as a strike against the Sharp. Given the set's solid grayscale measurements, we expected skin tones to look superb, but the faces of the subway riders and the skin of the tattooed bather for example, seemed a bit too pale and bluish compared with the LG and the Vizio, for example. Much more egregious were the Sharp's primary and secondary colors--the green of the jungle plants in Chapter 4, and especially the cyan of the sky and water in Chapter 5, looked off (green was more neon-like and bluish, cyan was greener) compared with all of the other sets. A greenish tinge also appeared in white areas, like the clouds in Chapter 9, which made them appear less natural; we chalk it up to the set's less accurate color decoding.

Finally, like many LCDs we've tested, the LC-32D47UT suffered from blue coloration in dark scenes. Only the Panasonic, LG, and Westinghouse had it worse.

Video processing: Sharp tripped up a bit in this area. We noticed jagged edges along some lines, and a moire pattern of crossed lines in the stairs of Tiananmen Square in Chapter 18 and minor flashing in the base of a pillar in Chapter 20. The Toshiba and Sharp TVs showed similar artifacts, but none of the other sets did. The problem only occurred in 1080i mode, so we recommend that owners of this TV should set their HD output devices to 720p mode instead. As we mentioned above, 1080p sources are not an option.

The LC-32D47UT doesn't perform much overt processing, such as such as the dejudder seen on higher-end LCDs, and since it has 720p resolution, our motion resolution test isn't valid. We expect it would perform about the same on that test as other 60Hz displays, however, and as usual we didn't notice any motion blur in our viewing.

Uniformity: No major bright spots marred the Sharp's screen during dark scenes, but in midbright scenes we did notice more brightness variation across the screen than we saw on the other sets, as well as a brighter right side of the picture. These issues showed up best in flat fields, like the clouds in Chapter 5, but neither one was particularly noticeable in most scenes. Off-angle performance was mediocre; seen from positions other than the sweet spot directly in front, the Sharp's picture washed out faster than all save the LG, the Panasonic, and the Westinghouse.

Bright lighting: Like most matte-screened LCDs, the LC-32D47UT performed well under bright lights, attenuating ambient light admirably. It was no better or worse than any of the other sets in our lineup, which all have similar screens.

Standard-definition: The Sharp came in slightly below average in our standard-def tests. We appreciated that it served up the full resolution of the DVD format, but details in areas like the grass and stone bridge on our test disc looked softer. It also had issues removing jaggies from some of the moving diagonal lines and a waving American flag. On the other hand we can't complain about its noise reduction, and appreciated that it handled our 2:3 pull-down test.

PC: Via HDMI the Sharp performed as expected, delivering the full resolution of 1,360x768 sources. But it fell short via VGA, delivering a softer picture that didn't have the full horizontal resolution according to DisplayMate. Notably, you must manually choose the input resolution using a special onscreen menu.

TEST RESULT SCORE
Before color temp (20/80) 6687/6466 Good
After color temp N/A  
Before grayscale variation 114 Good
After grayscale variation N/A  
Color of red (x/y) 0.6286/0.322 Average
Color of green 0.265/0.589 Average
Color of blue 0.146/0.058 Good
Overscan 0.0% Good
Defeatable edge enhancement Y Good
480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps Pass Good
1080i video resolution Pass Good
1080i film resolution Pass Good

Power consumption: Both before and after calibration, even without engaging its room-lighting sensor or power saver modes, the Sharp LC-32D47UT is the most energy-efficient 32-inch LCD in our test. Post-calibration it beat the Westinghouse by a mere 6 cents per year, and surpassed the least efficient model in the test, Panasonic's TC-32LX1, by about 5 bucks per year.

Juice box
Sharp LC-32D47UT Picture settings
Default Calibrated Power Save
Picture on (watts) 71.68 47.75 62.05
Picture on (watts/sq. inch) 0.164 0.11 0.14
Standby (watts) 0.16 0.16 0.16
Cost per year $15.56 $10.41 $13.49
Score (considering size) Good
Score (overall) Good

Annual power consumption cost after calibration
Sharp LC-32D47UT
$10.41 
Vizio VO320E
$11.36 
LG 32LH20
$13.69 
Panasonic TC-32LX1
$15.61 

How we test TVs

OVR
4.9

Sharp LC-32D47UT

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 5Performance 4