Having been more than impressed with the manufacturer's full HD XD1E range in recent months, we were hoping that Sharp's LC32RD32 - its first model to feature 100Hz processing - was equally going to deliver the goods. Unfortunately, it transpires that this picture processor is more frustrating than impressive.
Panasonic and Toshiba have similar processing routines to Sharp's 100Hz, but the arrival of such a routine is a significant addition to the feature count of Sharp flatscreens.
Theoretically, 100Hz technology doubles the refresh rate of a TV and is used to help motion problems - a constant thorn in LCD technology's side.
Despite the processing foibles that we'll soon address, it's good to see that this feature is making its debut in such an eco-friendly TV. In terms of green credentials, the LC32RD32 comes out with all guns blazing.
In operation, the LC32RD32 uses 142 watts per hour of power, while power consumption of 0.9W in standby means the LC32RD2E earns a recommendation from the Energy Saving Trust.
A quick glance at the LC32RD32's specifications reveal no surprises, with an HD-friendly resolution of 1366 x 768, quoted brightness of 450cd/m2, and an impressive quoted contrast ratio of 10000:1. This contrast ratio is made possible by backlight adjustment, depending on light levels in the scene you're watching.
Connections are solid, with one exception. There are two HDMIs for hooking up external hi-def sources, a PC port, two Scarts (both RGB-enabled) and a CAM slot. The exception is the omission of component video jacks, meaning that the PC VGA input with a provided adaptor has to be used instead.
Turn it off
Watching our HD DVD of Hulk, we concluded that Sharp has some way to go in tweaking its 100Hz tech to make optimum hi-def pictures. With 100Hz processing activated, irritating shimmering is introduced to the edges of moving objects. This poses the question: are signals being processed fast enough to cope with fast-moving scenes? Well, no.
Once the disappointing processing is switched off, things improve considerably. The LC32RD32 is able to deal with Hulk's high-octane fight sequences with gusto. One criticism must be levelled at the LC32RD32's curious tendency to make some moving objects appear sharper than the backgrounds themselves, though.
That gripe aside, the LC32RD32 performs well in other key hi-def picture areas: black levels and colours both hit the mark. Much the same can be said about its standard-def pictures. Overall, they are quite acceptable but little more.
Other positive points that we can lay at the LC32RD32's door are in the aesthetic and audio departments. The TV's glossy black finish with silver trim would set many a contemporary living room aflame. Similarly, the hidden speakers are more powerful than we were anticipating, delivering a strong soundstage.
Unfortunately, the positive aspects of the £650 LC32RD32 are pulled down by the debut of Sharp's 100Hz system: most of its rivals simply do the job better.