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Sharp LC42XL2E Review
With billions invested in R&D and manufacturing plants, Sharp Corporation is one of the primary driving forces behind the success of LCD televisions. So when rivals Samsung, Sony and Toshiba rolled out their latest models featuring true HD 1920x1080 resolution and motion compensation frame interpolation (MCFI) technology in time for the fourth quarter of 2007, you can bet that Sharp isn't going to be too far behind.
X20E and XL2E are the two latest ranges of Aquos LCD TVs launched by Sharp, with the chief difference being the 100Hz motion technology implemented on the latter. The LCD television I have on review today is the Sharp LC42XL2E, the smallest offering within the XL2E series.
Setup & Design
Setting up the Sharp LC42XL2E took slightly longer than usual, not least because the swivelling table top stand needed to be assembled before mounting the panel on it. Also, whereas most other HDTVs arrive in boxes that could be lifted out of the way to make the setup process that much easier, for the Sharp LC42XL2E we had to reach down to the bottom of the box to take the screen out, which was not helped by the absence of grip handles.
That said, I probably complain too much... after all, unpacking and setting up a brand new flat screen television is usually a once-off effort for most users. Even while lifting the panel out from the box I couldn't help but notice the slim depth profile of the Sharp LC42XL2E; once up and running, the sleek elegance of Sharp's "Slim-line" design truly wowed me.
The "Slim-line" label on the Sharp LC42XL2E refers not only to its depth, but also to the width of the bezel which comes in the form of a polished black perspex frame affixed onto the panel. Measuring around 3-centimetre thick on three sides, the bezel fattens at the bottom to accommodate a Sharp logo at the centre, and some LED indicators (among other things). The bottom end of the bezel is trimmed by a chrome silver strip, which – when viewed from the front – stylishly separates the bezel from the recessed speaker grille beneath.
The speakers necessarily add an uncharacteristic bulge to the rear end of the panel, but on the upside the audio on the Sharp LC42XL2E is an improvement – in terms of dialogue clarity, stereo separation and dynamic range – over the tinny rendition on the XD1E series.
One of the minor criticisms levied against previous Sharp Aquos LCD TVs was the glaring omission of dedicated component inputs – you have to use the supplied adaptor to connect your component cables to the VGA input. Thankfully this has been rectified on the Sharp LC42XL2E: the component input can be found within the rear compartment facing downwards, alongside two Scart interfaces, an aerial terminal, and analogue and digital (optical) audio output:
The rest of the connection ports – including all three HDMI inputs – congregate on the right side of the panel, so be prepared to put the cable clamp (supplied with the television) to use if you want to avoid seeing unsightly cables running down that side:
Interestingly, the innermost side compartment was initially covered by a piece of detachable plastic flap, revealing only a HDMI port. As I needed to access the other HDMI port and the VGA input regularly, I simply removed the cover and put it back in the box for as long as I'm using the LCD television: