Sharp LC-37XD1E review

An understated treasure with no shortage of pixels

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Our Verdict

A champion high definition display is compromised rather than sunk by the pictures further down the quality food chain

For

  • Good high-def picture quality

    Decent connections

Against

  • Disappointing standard-def pictures

    Poor audio

One day we won't refer to 'full HD' resolution with the word trapped inside speech marks. A TV with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels will seem run of the mill with all that 1080 HD material on Sky, Blu-ray and HD DVD available.

For now, all seems ship shape when the LC-37XD1E hoves into view with its black 'n' silver livery, and speakers that hide their modesty under the screen. With two HDMI inputs and two Scarts (one that's RGB-capable), it sells itself as a serious HD performer. It's a shame the PC input doubles for component video requiring a (supplied) adapter. A CAM slot also reveals the presence of a built-in digital tuner.

The TV is packed with image tweaks and technology including Sharp's TruD processing, designed to reduce judder while enhancing contrast and sharpness. The vital statistics measure up well with a 1200:1 contrast ratio and an impressive response time of 6m/sec so motion blur should be minimal.

The LC-37XD1E delivers a spellbinding picture quality with 1080-line material such as Pirates of the Caribbean 2. The picture is mapped pixel-for-pixel from source to screen with no scaling, resulting in clean and well-defined images. Shots of swirling tornadoes ravaging the LA skyline are mesmerising, and motion is free from judder.

Colours impress with a lot of help from truD and the contrast conjures deep and vivid hues from the ghostly world of The Black Pearl. It's also a dab hand with skin tones and subtle shadow details including the mascara-heavy lids of Cap'n Jack. It's true that blacks lack the depth of some similarly-priced rivals and many plasmas, but they are still capable of making movies look solid and cinematic.

When we hooked up a Blu-ray player we found that the 1080p pictures don't much improve on their interlaced cousins, but that's an advantage that may require a large screen to appreciate better.

Bumps in the night

Standard definition material from DVD and Freeview passes muster sufficiently, but during darker scenes the picture appeared to have soaked up a bit of noise, presumably during the conversion up from 576 lines to the full 1080.

The audio is sadly as flat as its screen, which goes some way to explaining the speakers' understated look. Talking of understatement, the bass doesn't do much justice to the bombs or crashing cannon balls either, so home cinema fans might be looking to that external amplifier for help.