Sharp LC-32X20E £900
8th Aug 2008 | 16:04
Full HD resolution and its superb Game mode put this flatscreen into first gear
Of all the TVs included in this issue, the Sharp LC-32X20E is the most self-consciously game oriented. It's even pitched as a games TV in some of its marketing, and has two key features up its sleeve to make good on its promise.
Firstly, there's the dedicated 'Game' picture preset. This isn't completely unique by any means. Plenty of rivals carry the same feature, but it seems more effective than any similar mode elsewhere.
The other key game-friendly feature – assuming you're doing the sensible thing and using an HD console – is a Full HD resolution.
Cramming 1920 x 1080 pixels into such a small screen area should, on the evidence we've witnessed on larger screens, deliver a purer, sharper, less noisy HD game image, as there's no need for 1080-line game outputs to have to be rescaled to a lower resolution.
Also helping the LC-32X20E's chances of finding its way into your gaming room is its size. It's unusually small, with a really thin bezel ensuring it takes up scarcely more space than a typical 26in LCD TV.
The good times just keep on rolling with the discovery of three HDMIs, meaning you've still got a digital HD connection spare even if you happen to own both an Xbox 360 Elite and a PS3!
Those HDMIs are also 24p compatible – meaning they're also Blu-ray friendly – while other bits and bobs include a film mode that tweaks the progressive scan processing to better suit film as opposed to video sources, and noise reduction circuitry. Plus, there's a D-Sub PC port if you're inclined to add PC use to your gaming obsession.
Full HD glory
Playing our Xbox 360 Forza Motorsport game on the LC-32X20E is even more enjoyable than usual, thanks to the excellent gaming picture quality.
For starters, that Full HD resolution is made to count in quite spectacular fashion: every leaf on every tree of the game's trackside graphics and each tiny colour shading detail on the cars is immaculately rendered.
The Full HD resolution also helps the TV produce outstandingly subtle colour blends, thanks to its greater pixel density. Provided you play Forza with the TV's Dot By Dot mode activated to eliminate overscanning, video noise is pretty much non-existent too.
Going back to colours, they're superbly saturated – ideal for gaming – yet decently natural when winding down from some hard racing with a little TV viewing.
Even though the LC-32X20E doesn't have 100Hz processing, the Game mode reduces the screen's apparent response time superbly so that opposing cars zip by without blurring or losing any resolution.
Black levels ensure that even the most shadowy corners of the tracks look convincingly dark, but they're also deep and detailed enough to let you see where you're racing.
Master gaming LCD
Turning to the LC-32X20E's talents with HD video sources, it's rather impressive again with the black levels still holding up even during the heavy contrast demands of your average film, and noise levels well-contained.
Arguably, other contenders out there edge the Sharp when it comes to TV and Blu-ray viewing but, with some affably potent sound to back everything up, this Sharp is seriously heaven sent as a pure 32in gaming machine.