6th Aug 2008 | 15:59
A major comeback for the 100Hz engine, breathing a new lease of life into LCD tech
Usually we like 100Hz processing on LCD TVs. Yet somehow the 100Hz system Sharp employed on its previous models just didn't cut it, making pictures look artificial and glitchy. So let's hope Sharp has improved things considerably with the great looking LC46LX2E, complete with the brand's second generation of 100Hz processing.
Superb connections get the ball rolling nicely, with three v1.3, Deep Colour-compatible HDMIs leading the way. What's more, these HDMIs are clever types: they can detect whatever source is attached – PS3, Xbox 360, set top box and so on – and automatically update the input's onscreen 'label' accordingly.
There's also an RS-232 port for system integration alongside all the usual stalwarts such as component video input and a D-Sub PC port.
In terms of features, aside from the 100Hz processing, the key players are a claimed dynamic contrast ratio of 10,000:1 (2,000:1 native), a Full HD resolution, digital noise reduction, and a specialised Game mode. And so to the moment of truth: does the LC46XL2E know its 100Hz onions? Yes, it does – with one slight limitation.
On the up side, action-packed scenes on our test Blu-ray disc of Blade Runner show absolutely no sign of the motion glitching and rather nauseating 'over-smoothness' that made Sharp's previous 100Hz sets so dislikeable. Excellent.
But, on the downside, motion doesn't look quite as clear as it did on those 100Hz predecessors. Clearly Sharp has massively ramped down the 100Hz engine's activities – arguably a step too far. But, overall the 100Hz balance is much more natural and enjoyable than before.
Similarly, when watching cricket, the ball doesn't suddenly develop 'ghost balls' around it as was the case with its 100Hz predecessors – a significant improvement.
Deep and vibrant pictures
There's a big improvement, too, in the LC46LX2E's black level response. Dark scenes like those in replicant engineer Sebastian's freaky apartment avoid much of LCD's customary greying over, helping them look immediate, engaging, and full of depth.
Video noise is well suppressed during HD viewing too, but without denying HD images that lovely clarity and 'snap' we always look for on the best big LCD screens.
Finally in the plus column, colours are vibrant and bright. But, it also has to be said that occasionally colours aren't completely natural in tone: some skin tones end up looking a bit over-ripe. The fact that colour saturations drop off a little if you view the screen from too much of an angle also doesn't help here.
Standard definition pictures aren't always scaled to fit the Full HD resolution as successfully as we'd like either, with colour tones again sometimes looking slightly off, leaving the picture looking a tad soft, especially over skin tones.
Compress to play
Audio also doesn't have us leaping around the test labs with joy: the fantastic soundtrack of Blade Runner sounds rather compressed and tinny to these ears.
Although the LC46LX2E might not be quite the irresistible all-rounder we were hoping for, it certainly is a mighty fine HD monitor.
Best of all, its 100Hz engine has gone from being one of the worst around to one of the best in a single generation. It's the biggest comeback since Lazarus.