Sharp LC-32XL8E review

A 32in LCD which puts in a vibrant performance

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Our Verdict

A solid and sometimes excellent performer, that lacks consistency and true star quality

For

  • Impressively narrow bezel
  • Good 100Hz engine

Against

  • Not cheap
  • A bit weak in the sound department

Sharp's LC-32LX20E was the first full HD 32in screen to be released in the UK. Since then we've been eagerly anticipating a sequel and it's finally arrived, in the shape of the LC-32XL8E you see before you.

This model is slightly prettier than its predecessor, thanks to a narrower black surround that barely extends an inch around the top, left and right sides of the screen and thus means the TV can squeeze into the sort of space you might only have expected to be able to accommodate a 26in TV.

Uninspiring spec

Connectivity is fine and dandy, if rather unspectacular, with its three HDMIs, PC input and all the usual lower-quality analogue options. The only thing you might call a disappointment is the lack of any sort of USB or SD card slot for viewing digital photographs.

Turning to the 32XL8E's specifications, aside from that all-important full HD resolution, we find a respectable claimed 10,000:1 contrast ratio achieved via a dynamic backlight, 1080p/24fps support, a decent response time of 6ms, and SRS TruSurround audio processing for pseudo surround sound.

Inconsistent picture performance

After being rather underwhelmed by the audio performance of a number of Sharp TVs recently, we didn't expect much of this pseudo surround system to be honest. But in fact the 32XL8E sounds rather good, with plenty of power and dynamic range.

Things aren't quite so satisfying in the picture department, though – or at least, they're not anywhere near as consistent.

Problem one is that hi-def pictures just don't look quite as sharp and detailed as they do on the best full HD rivals we've covered elsewhere. Problem two is that the colour toning isn't always totally convincing, with one or two skin tones and rich greens and reds looking a touch gaudy.

Our final issue is that its black levels are only decent, rather than really good, with traces of the
familiar grey clouding appearing over dark scenes, hiding shadow detail in the process.

Bright images

Despite these issues, though, the Sharp LC-32XL8E is far from a bad TV. While colours might not be natural, they are vibrant and rich.

There are some very subtle blends thanks to the full HD resolution and Sharp's processing, and the brightness is nicely balanced so that images look eye-catching without exaggerating video noise.

The lack of noise doesn't just apply to HD source material, either; the 32XL8E also upscales standard definition to its full HD panel quite cleanly, with the only area for future standard def improvement being some slightly plasticky skin tones.