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Sharp LC42XD1E: Final Conclusion
- Fantastic black level
- Desirable near-D65 greyscale easily achieved using "Low" colour temperature preset
- Accurate primary colour points
- Incredible detail from 1920x1080 resolution and 1:1 mapping without overscan
- Tint control and RGB colour space options available for HDMI connection
- Extremely accessible input connections
- Independent input memories
- Beautiful high-definition on-screen menu
- Generous 16-step backlight control
- Unbeatable price point: £1100 for a 1080p panel
- Noisy picture unless fed with the most pristine of signals
- Limited viewing angle... less than 60° in our case
- Electronic buzz (even in standby) and low-pitched hum
- Uneven backlight may affect picture quality (though not in our case)
- Red push could not be completely eliminated without accessing service menu
- Sluggish on-screen menu navigation
- Ugly EPG
- No dedicated component input (shared with VGA port through adaptor cable)
- Need to buy separate dual RCA to 3.5mm stereo jack adaptor to accept component/ VGA audio input from Xbox 360/ Nintendo Wii
- Poor headphone jack placement at the back of the TV
With an online price tag of around £1100, the Sharp LC42XD1E represents excellent value for money... with a few caveats:
1) You really need HD source to get the best out of this TV. Although it does an acceptable job with SD material when viewed from 8 feet (Philips 42PF9831D with Pixel Plus turned on is much better in this regard), buying this TV just to watch standard definition material is like buying a Ferrari F430 to drive in the city of London - the full potential will never be unleashed and you're left wondering what's so good about the TV/ car.
2) To be honest, we were disappointed with the picture quality of the Sharp LC42XD1E when we tested it right out of the box - the default settings exhibited a severe red push and indefensible below black clipping. It was only after proper calibration and some creative tweaking at the user menu level that the LC42XD1E turned into a majestic set, churning out stunningly realistic high definition pictures, fantastic blacks and impressive shadow detail.
3) The Sharp XD1E series of LCD TVs seem to be afflicted by quality control issues at the manufacturing plants with frequent consumer complaints of uneven backlight and unsatisfactory viewing angle. That said, the incidence of these problems in the 42" version appears much less compared to those in its bigger siblings LC46XD1E and LC52XD1E.
Sure the Sharp LC42XD1E has its flaws, but at this level it's all about compromise... and it's in the most critical department of picture quality that the Sharp LC42XD1E excels, thanks to its near-D65 greyscale, accurate primary colour points, reference-level blacks and pixel-perfect 1080p-capable resolution. We simply don't think there's a better LCD HDTV at this price point.
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