Of course we're in favour of the flat revolution, but does the swap to flatscreens really mean we've all got to spend out on a big screen for the lounge, a small LCD for the kitchen or bedroom and a flatscreen monitor for the office? Sharp is evidently hoping so, because this 20in LCD TV doesn't come with a PC input - something which we thought was pretty standard by now.
That aside, a new Sharp LCD is always an occasion, especially due to the fact that some of its latest huge screens have bordered on perfection (aside from their equally huge price tags). Coming in at £500 for 20 inches of screen, this budget model should show just how adaptable the brand is to the opposite end of the market.
Back to basics
It certainly looks stylish and ultra-modern, but first impressions don't last long because around the back of the LC-20SH1E is... very little. One Scart, composite video and S-video inputs aren't much to get excited about. A built-in analogue TV tuner it does have, but without a PC input and with a screen resolution of just 640 x 480, the Sharp is left looking a bit basic. Besides a well designed remote control - something that shouldn't be taken for granted, however - the only 'extra' of any note is a backlight level adjustment.
To see how the LC-20SH1E would cope with basic pictures on its low-resolution screen, we spun our Family Guy DVD via that Scart input. As expected, the screen coped well with the bright primary colours, giving vivid and solid saturations - without much trouble or picture adjustments on our part - that were free of picture noise or over-cooked hues. But that's easier to do with animation than with film, so we had a quick play of the CGI action of The Chronicles of Riddick to give the set a trickier test...
The LC-20SH1E immediately slipped up on the old LCD problem of smearing over motion. Actors walking in the background were often juddery, and quick camera pans almost unbearable. Apart from that, the Sharp actually did quite well, giving a lot of depth to the early chase scenes to make all that CGI work worth it - although pictures are at all times a bit soft and jittery.
The following scenes of a city under siege at night prove easy pickings, however, and there were impressive gradations and detail in black areas of the image.
At the risk of hammering in another nail after the eye-aching smearing revelation, we have to say that audio from the LC-20SH1E is weak, with little bass or mid-range to work with, especially from film soundtracks.
Ultimately, we expected more from Sharp. The LC-20SH1E 's skills with blacks, colour and picture noise-suppression are what we expected from this manufacturer, it having produced some groundbreaking LCDs. And what makes the serious problems with motion particularly annoying is the fact that we hardly spotted any image lag on the brand's LCDs as much as four times the size of the LC-20SH1E.
Such a juddery image on a Sharp LCD equates to a top-of-the-class French student forgetting how to ask the way to the station. Je ne comprends pas.