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Sharp LC42XD1E Daily Operation
The on-screen menu on Sharp LC42XD1E truly showcased the potential of a high definition LCD TV - it utilised the fine pixels on the 1920 x 1080 panel to produce pin-sharp icons, lines and words. Unfortunately this high-definition rendering had a knock-on effect on the response time resulting in sluggish menu navigation: it took us a full 7 seconds to turn on the TruD feature.
Having said that, we appreciated that the menu on the Sharp Aquos LC42XD1E was semi-transparent and restricted to the top-left section of the screen, making our calibration runs much easier as we could see the data/ picture underneath.
To top it off, we were delighted to discover that memory settings were input-specific. This meant that we could save the settings for each connection, allowing us to enjoy the best possible calibrated picture from all sources (whether it's HDMI, VGA, component or SCART) without needing to adjust the settings every time.
Electronic Programme Guide (EPG)
While the on-screen menu proved to be a high-definition visual delight, Sharp LC42XD1E's EPG for digital TV was downright ugly. Sure, the live preview was handy, but the whole interface looked as if it was coded using a prehistoric Atari machine... even an external £30 Freeview box would do a better job.
The time slots were also poorly designed: the number of words visible in a single slot were limited to such an extent that more often than not we couldn't make out the name of the actual programme, detracting from the effectiveness of the EPG.
The Sharp LC42XD1E came with an infrared remote control powered by two AAA batteries (also included). The corresponding infrared sensor was situated at the bottom right of the panel. Coupled with a narrow sensing field, this threw us off at times as we instinctively pointed the remote at the centre of the screen.
The remote control unit itself could at best be described as functional: it had a lightweight plasticky feel to it, and the buttons were relatively small by industry standard. It was also not backlit (although this appears to be the norm for most HDTV remote controls nowadays).
One major gripe we had with this remote control was the lack of individual input buttons, which meant that we had to trigger the excruciatingly slow on-screen menu using the "input source" button on the remote control just to change from watching normal TV to DVD. To make matters worse, these inputs were labelled in the menu as "Ext 1, Ext 2... Ext 6" rather than as connections (e.g. SCART, HDMI, component) so amnesiacs be warned.
The bottom part of the remote control could be flipped open to reveal a few hidden buttons, one of which probably should not have been put there in the first place. We're referring to the aspect ratio button which is useful for filling up the screen when watching 4:3 programs. This is where a third-party programmable remote can come in handy, as you could remap the functions and completely avoid using the original remote.
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