Sharp's latest 32in LCD TV comes across as a little bit confused: it looks good on the surface, but scrape away, and we feel that some papering over the cracks may have come into play. This nagging feeling begins with the overall appearance - it looks reasonable enough with a nice speaker panel under the screen cutting a dash, but it does feel a little lacking in build quality
Still, it is HD compatible, joining the massed ranks of flatscreens with a native resolution of 1366 x 768, a claimed contrast ratio of 1,200:1 and brightness of 450cd/m2. Connectivity gets off to a flying start with the appearance of two HDMIs and a PC VGA input in nice futureproofing touches.
But the lack of component video inputs is irksome: the only way to get analogue HD (from an Xbox 360, say) into this TV is through the PC socket using a component video-to-PC input adaptor (which is provided with the TV). Cue much messing about with wires.
This also means the LC-32GA9E can't wear a HD-ready badge, despite it being HD-ready in all other ways. A digital tuner may have eased the blow of lead swapping, but no CI slot means analogue only pictures - a missed opportunity there.
Things improve with the LC-32GA9E's feature count, which includes TruD anti-judder processing technology, which the manufacturer claims improves colour, contrast and sharpness, as well as reducing the amount of motion smearing over fast- moving objects.
Other features include the ability to choose between interlaced and progressive playback and boost black levels. All this sounds promising, so we cranked up our Mancunian overload of 24 Hour Party People with reasonable expectations. We found ourselves in similar territory to the set's appearance and connectivity - on paper it looks good, but the actuality is a little average.
Pity the dark
TruD does strut its stuff, coaxing richer colours, deeper blacks and sharper pictures than we were expecting. Colours look realistic, skin tones impress and the overall picture is one of warmth (even though we're dealing with the gritty landscapes of 1980s Manchester). There's fine detail in the club scenes involving Big Tony and a general absence of dot crawl.
But black levels don't cut the mustard. Dark scenes in the Hacienda nightclub are lacking in depth and shadow detailing. These scenes also display some elements of smearing. The combination of these two factors leaves the visual experience a little sludgy-looking - and it's not the hedonistic abandon of the movie's hard-living protagonists that's to blame.
The speakers put in a rousing performance, though, making up for the average pictures a little. There's a girthsome soundstage with clear voices. Bass levels are good, doing justice to the soundtrack of 1988.
We think the admission fee for this LCD TV is a little steep also: slash a couple of hundred pounds off the asking price and we may have been a little more forgiving of this set's picture foibles.
But at £1,100, and bearing in mind the lack of digital tuner and penny-pinched connectivity, you've a right to expect more for your money