Sharp’s 37-in LC-37D40U HDTV (see the figure) lists at $1999 but downward price pressure may lead to some bargains in the future. The model I tested is in the middle of Sharp’s Aquos line. It has a 1200:1 contrast ratio and a 1366 x 768 resolution that can handle 1024i and 480p. The 57-in version moves up to 1500:1 but the 65-in version drops to 800:1. This high contrast ratio is due to an enhanced color filter. All incorporate Sharp’s Super View multi-pixel technology that delivers a 176º viewing angle. The D90U series adds a four-wavelength backlight (versus the three-wavelength of the D40U) that is supposed to provide even better color reproduction than the version I had. I found my unit to be impressive as is. It had very dark blacks and the high contrast showed off a bright, adjustable backlight system. Overall the images were excellent for viewing movies.
The unit comes with a heavy duty stand. It can also be mounted on the wall. Inputs include antenna/cable, 2 HDMI, 2 HD component, S-video, and 3 composite video inputs. Four audio inputs match the latter. There are no video outputs but there is an analog audio output. The system has a pair of 10W speakers. The audio quality is good although running it through the audio output to a 100W amplifier with subwoofer does wonders for DVD movies.
The tuner handles regular 180-channel NTSC and HDTV reception. I was able to view a few local HDTV channels. The results were impressive compared to conventional TV channels. Of course, it is interesting to view the difference that interference has on NTSC versus HDTV. The former shows up as snow while the latter turns to blocks.
The LC-37D40U has a number of resizing options for conventional 4x3 images allowing letterbox DVD output to fill the screen. Stretching can generate some interesting variations but it is easy to cycle through the variations using the remote. Unfortunately resolution of an HD source is fixed.
The remote was rather handy. I especially liked the four program buttons. Each can be associated with up to four TV channels. This lets you cycle through your favorite channels more quickly. It let me allocate a button for each viewer or each type of program such as all the movie channels. The setup process is relatively painless so you can easily change it on the fly for your current viewing pleasure.
It was too bad when the unit had to go back to Sharp. Plain NTSC video is just below par now.