21st Jun 2007 | 23:00
Sharp raises the bar for big-screen LCD
We've already seen and thoroughly enjoyed 42-inch and 46-inch models from Sharp's potent new XD1E range. But today we're stretching Sharp's talents to a whole new dimension with the massive 52-inch 52XD1E - one of the UK's biggest commercially available LCD TVs.
Two things strike us positively about the 52XD1E right away. First, at £3,000 it's really not expensive for such a large LCD offering. Second, it looks great; its slender, glossy black screen bezel combined with a silver wave of speakers along the bottom should deliver a style boost to any living room.
Connectivity is likeable, with two HDMIs, a D-Sub PC port, Scarts plus a common interface slot that reveals the TV to have a built-in digital tuner. One thing there isn't, though, is a dedicated set of component jacks. For component feeds you have to use a provided adapter and the PC port; a satisfactory solution so long as you don't simultaneously attach separate PC and component video sources.
When it comes to features, the most important is the 52XD1E's full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. This should make it a real friend of the UK's hi-def sources, especially since Sharp provides the option to show 1920 x 1080 sources on a 1:1 pixel basis, without any overscanning. The HDMIs will also take 1080p feeds if you happen to have a source that can deliver them.
Intriguingly, the 52XD1E offers a faster response time and a better contrast ratio than the smaller models in the same range: 4ms (vs 6ms) and 10000:1 (versus 6000:1) respectively. This raises hopes of an even better all-round performance.
The only other features we should cover are a dynamic backlight that adjusts its brightness depending on the darkness of the source image, and truD image processing that improves horizontal motion, sharpness and contrast.
Full on Sharp
Our Revenge of the Sith Sky HD recording looks great on the 52XD1E. Particularly striking is the extra clarity compared to Sharp's smaller models. This is partly down to the simple fact that you can better see the benefit to detail reproduction of a full HD screen. But it also seems, during the opening space battle, that motion is better handled than on the smaller models, with slightly less loss of resolution as objects cross the screen.
The blackness of space during this same scene also looks impeccably deep and quite believable, with only a faint trace of an unwanted bluish undertone. Colours, meanwhile, look scintillatingly vibrant, fully saturated and noiseless, and the extra pixel density of the full HD resolution also helps produce some remarkably subtle blends.
Moving on to sound, the set's speakers don't look powerful, but they handle the raucous sequence of the crash-landing following the rescue of Chancellor Palapatine with authority and power.
Not quite plasma
With the 52XD1E also having a decent stab at remapping standard-def sources to its high-resolution panel, the only complaints we can raise are that occasionally the dynamic contrast feature can leave pictures a touch too dark for comfort, and that you can get even better motion handling and black levels (at least in terms of shadow detail portrayal) from a good 50-inch plasma.
But make no mistake about it. If LCD is your flat TV technology of choice, this is as a fine a bigscreen option as we've seen.