With an abundance of 1080-line material now available from the likes of Sky HD, Blu-ray and HD DVD, there's a growing demand for TVs with 1920 x 1080 resolution. Sharp's LC-37XD1E recognises this need, boasting a Full HD resolution and the ability to display 1080p content in its native form.
Silver dream machine
The elegant gloss black frame with silver trim and neatly-concealed under-screen speakers are attractive, and the connections panel is well stocked. It features two HDMI inputs to handle your growing collection of hi-def kit and two Scarts, only one of which is RGB-capable.
There's also a PC input that annoyingly doubles as component video input, so you need to use the supplied phono to VGA adapter. A CAM slot also reveals the presence of a built-in digital tuner.
The TV is positively packed with image tweaks and technology including Sharp's TruD processing, which reduces judder while enhancing contrast and sharpness. The set's vital statistics make for good reading too, with a 1,200:1 contrast ratio and an impressive response time of 6ms.
TV can deliver extraordinary picture quality with 1080-line material, such as a 1080i broadcast of Mission: Impossible III on Sky Movies HD. The quality picture is mapped pixel-for-pixel from source to screen with no scaling, resulting in clean and well-defined images. Shots of the dramatic escape from the Shanghai skyscraper are amazing, and motion is free from judder.
Colours are also impressive, boosted by truD and a terrific contrast range that conjures some extremely deep and vivid hues. It's also a dab hand with skin tones and subtle shadow details.
If we're being picky, blacks lack the depth and authenticity of some similarly-priced rivals and the best plasmas, but they're still good enough to make movies look solid and cinematic.
Hooking up a Panasonic Blu-ray deck reveals that 1080p pictures don't look much better than 1080i, but the difference is only apparent on larger screens.
Standard definition material like DVD and Freeview is generally well presented but some scenes (particularly dark ones) look quite noisy, perhaps a result of the notoriously demanding 576-line to 1080-line upconversion.
Sadly, the set's audio performance is as flat as its screen, resulting in a weedy soundstage that doesn't do justice to the hi-def visuals.
Inconsistent standard-def pictures and sound quality do hamper the LC-37XD1E, but its hi-def performance is good enough to earn our recommendation.