Sharp LC-32AD5E £406
1st Apr 2008 | 13:33
Sharp’s LCD TV is just dandy as long as you’re looking straight at it…
With Sharp now apparently focusing on the bigscreen end of the LCD market, the LC-32AD5E - with its budget £500 price tag - feels a bit like an afterthought.
For instance, there's no dynamic contrast system for reducing the backlight output during dark scenes - a shortcoming which limits the set's contrast ratio to a measured 250:1.
There's also scant high-level picture processing, and connectivity is average, with the inclusion of two v1.2 HDMIs, a component video jack and a VGA PC port.
The only thing that immediately catches my eye positively about the 32AD5E - aside from its price - is its design, which combines one or two neat curves with a tasteful glossy finish to winning effect.
Unfortunately, I felt somewhat underwhelmed with the 32AD5E's picture performance. Before calibration, I found the picture settings, on the whole, noticeably out of whack, and black levels seemed distinctly average.
Thankfully a few minutes spent with the DVD Essentials setup disc improves things considerably. Colours still struggle to look natural during the many dark scenes on my Blade Runner platter, but they're at least rich and vibrant during bright scenes.
Black levels seem better too, with far less greyness to besmirch them. Just bear in mind, though, that this improvement is mostly thanks to nudging the TV's backlight output down to just '-4' or '-5', meaning you have to accept a quite drastic reduction in brightness that can leave some dark picture areas looking rather hollow.
The 32AD5E impresses with its crisp HD performance making Ridley Scott's sci-fi classic look like it was shot only yesterday on the latest HD cameras. The Sharp's multiple picture strengths come with a minor caveat.
A TV that needs work
The 32AD5E's viewing angle is severely limited. If you watch from even as little as 30° off-axis - something various family members will have to do at regular intervals in most households - the image loses bags of contrast and colour saturation. And the problem only becomes more severe the wider you go.
All LCD TVs suffer with this problem to some degree (although IPS Alpha screens from Panasonic and Hitachi are much better in this regard) but the 32AD5E has it worse than most.
Under the right circumstances the Sharp 32AD5E is a really very likeable TV. However, I suspect that those circumstances (direct viewing angle, right picture calibration) will prove difficult to achieve in the average household.