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Sharp Elite review: Overpriced, but best picture quality since Kuro

The overpriced Sharp Elite LED-based LCD produces the best overall picture quality of any TV we've reviewed since 2008.

It's not quite as good as a Kuro, but the 2011 Elite LED-based LCD from Sharp sure tries its darndest. Sarah Tew/CNET

In the United States these days the word "Elite" has a negative connotation evoking snooty haves vs. gritty have-nots, Wall Street vs. Main Street, and them vs. us. The Sharp Elite PRO-X5FD won't do much to dispel those associations.

This ridiculously expensive television is basically "The wealthiest 1 percent" distilled into flat-panel TV form, and we're betting very few of the 99 percent will splurge on one, especially with perfectly excellent alternatives available for half the price or less.

But if you're reading this review, you couldn't care less. What you came to find out is whether we think the Sharp Elite PRO-X5FD has better picture quality than those alternative 2011 TVs or even than the legendary and now extinct Pioneer Elite Kuro from 2008. Yes and no, respectively. The X5FD deserves a 10 in picture quality, tying the score of the Kuro and beating every other TV we've ever reviewed. The Kuro still produces a better picture overall, especially from off-angle, but that hardly matters anymore since you probably can't get one. And if you could, you'd still lose certain bragging rights to deep-pocketed Sharp owners since the X5FD is the only Elite TV that can handle 3D sources and comes in a 70-inch size. If you don't mind paying any price to get the best current flat-panel TV, the Sharp Elite is for you.

Read the full review of the Sharp Elite PRO-X5FD series.