Sharp LC-37HV4E £5000
1st Feb 2005 | 00:00
Great looks, great performance... what more do you need?
The first thing you'll notice about the LC-37HV4E is its clean design. It may not be the thinnest screen around, but it's very attractive, with all the manual controls atop the set. Speakers are supplied and can be fitted to the sides of the panel. And all connections are housed in a media box, meaning there's no unsightly jungle of wires.
At the back of the media box the selection of sockets is very healthy. Two of the three Scarts are RGB-capable, which is useful if you want to hook-up a DVD player and digital set-top box, while DVD footage can also be fed through top-notch component video. Both S-video and composite video inputs are present, and a 15-pin D-Sub to connect a PC.
Sharp rarely skimps on features, and this is no exception. Within the on-screen menus there are a wealth of picture tweaks, as well as various temperature and noise reduction settings. And the selection of presets is vast. A film option automatically detects and tweaks a film-based source shot at 24 frames per second to produce a cleaner image. On the audio side there's a choice of DSP modes and three surround options.
If you have the facility to feed highdefinition footage from a D-VHS deck, the panel's XGA resolution ensures it is capable of displaying images properly. Elsewhere the stats make for impressive reading: 430cd/m2 brightness and 800:1 contrast ratio are very good for a LCD screen.
The LC-37HV4E is a dream performer. Pictures from the RF tuner are among the best we've seen. Amazingly, there is almost no noise or grain, which means detail levels are excellent. Most impressive is how well movement is handled: there's hardly any lag or shimmer behind moving objects. Unfortunately, though, pesky on-screen logos and graphics do cause a little trouble, with tizzing visible around their edges.
RGB pictures from a DVD player were exemplary. The considerable step-up in signal quality from the RF feed results in images appearing much sharper. Colours have a natural edge to them and are contained within rigid, prominent lines. Accordingly, detail levels are vastly improved. However, slight patches of noise are still present on large banks of colour.
On the up
Moving up to component video signals we found there wasn't much difference in picture quality, although colours are slightly richer and blacks more robust. Picture noise is reduced, however, giving images more depth. What's most impressive about this screen is how moving footage is handled - and this is applicable across all inputs. When tornadoes rip-up LA's Hollywood sign in The Day After Tomorrow, and send cars flying through the air on the highway, there is a total lack of the shimmering, smearing or judder that so often accompanies moving footage on LCD displays.
When it comes to high-def sources, this is one of the most impressive LCDs we've seen. Images from our resident D-VHS player were supremely detailed and textured, with hardly any noisy blemishes.
That doesn't mean it's faultless, however: the black level and contrast are good, but not spectacular. But there's such an excellent greyscale that there is detail to darker areas of the picture, even if blacks are not truly black.
The LC-37HV4E is a sensational audio performer, with a meaty bass underpinning a detailed stereo output. The SRS setting provides a wide soundstage and subtle wraparound effects, while Focus sharpens dialogue impressively.
While it has been surpassed by Sharp's new lineup (like the model opposite), the LC-37HV4E is still a first-rate performer.