Sharp AQUOS LC52PD7X

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Sharp AQUOS LC52PD7X

Pros

  • Excellent image quality at 1080p and high definition modes, Good standard definition scaling, Superb PC mode, Wide range of connection options, Attractive Design

Cons

  • Some minor pixelation during 720p gaming, Images were too dark at times

Bottom Line

The LC52PD7X is an excellent LCD TV for those wishing to enter the world of 1080p and high definition content. Its price tag is high, but if you have the cash to spend, you won't be disappointed.

Would you buy this?

The LC52PD7X is a 52in LCD TV with a native resolution of 1920x1080. It offers exceptional image quality across a wide range of input modes and a new attractive piano-black design. Earlier in the year we reviewed the AQUOS 52GD7X and were mightily impressed with that we saw. Many months later, we could be forgiven for thinking that the LC52PD7X is just a rehash of that model in a swanky new chassis. However, it's a different beast. It has the same generation of glass, is made at the same factory, but there are some improvements in this model that have addressed the problems that we found in the previous one. It's not a perfect TV, but it certainly deserves its position at the upper echelon of the 1080p TV market.

1080p

To test the TV's 1080p mode, we connected it to the Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray player using HDMI, and viewed the Blu-ray film Casino Royale. We were immediately impressed with how well the unit handled motion; there was no detectable jitter during the opening black and white sequence. This was followed by the stunning credit sequence, which showed no signs of pixelation and was incredibly detailed. The colours were rich with no over-saturation and the black levels were quite good. At default settings, the black levels are outstanding and, for an LCD TV, among the better we have seen. However, the quality black levels come at a price. At factory default settings, the contrast is a little lacking and, as such, some darker scenes look a little too dark. This results in a loss of detail. This problem could be fixed after tweaking the many settings that can be found in the TV's on-screen calibration menu, but this slightly hampered the image quality.

Despite this minor point, this unit is definitely suitable for Blu-ray movie playback and it should satisfy those looking to get in on the HD film experience.

High definition (720p/1080i)

We ran both gaming and HD-DVD tests at 720p and 1080i, respectively, in order to check the high definition performance of the LC52PD7X.

At 720p, we connected the Xbox 360 to the unit via a Component connection and played Tony Hawk's Project 8 and Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2. The colours and detail were excellent and motion was handled with ease. However, we discovered minor pixelation along some edges, particularly curved and diagonal edges. This extended to some finer details like overhead power cables and blades of grass as well. That said, we test a little closer to the unit than most people will likely sit. Since the pixelation was fairly minor, this isn't a massive problem. However, the contrast issue seen in the 1080p test was a little more apparent here. The game environments have many areas that are darker, and these were a little too hard to peer into.

To test the TV's 1080i mode, we viewed the Empire State Building finale from King Kong on HD-DVD. The same minor weaknesses that were seen in the Blu-ray tests were also seen in the HD-DVD tests. Once again, areas were a little too dark at times. Considering the exquisite all-round image quality of the TV, this isn't a major problem for it, and we were able to correct it through the on-screen calibration menu.

Gamers and movie buffs alike will appreciate the high definition performance of the LC52PD7X. While it has some minor issues, it's still able to deliver the impressive image quality that we have come to expect from Sharp LCD TVs.

Standard definition (576i/p)

We tested in standard definition mode using The Matrix on DVD, as well as the Digital Video Essentials (DVE) DVD.

Viewing the lobby scene from The Matrix, we were satisfied with the performance. It wasn't the best that we have seen from a 1080p TV, but considering the mammoth task of scaling a standard definition source to 1080p, it was more than adequate. The colours were recreated flawlessly and there was no ghosting or jitter during the motion tests. There was some minor pixelation along some edges and a moderate amount of interpolation artefacts, but this is to be expected.

The DVE tests were completed flawlessly. We found no noise in the grey bars test and both the colour and greyscale tests were rendered without a problem. The contrast tests showed no error and the blend along the greyscale was perfect.

Considering how difficult it is to scale DVD resolution on a 1080p panel, this unit did a good job. Those who love their DVD collections shouldn't have any problems displaying them on this panel. Naturally, they won't look anywhere near as good as HD movies, but they are definitely watchable.

PC

The only major problem we had with the AQUOS 52GD7X is the fact that the PC connection only supports a maximum resolution of 1366x768. Thankfully, this issue has been corrected in the LC52PD7X. It supports a full 1920x1080 desktop resolution, which is glorious. Not only that, but it automatically detects the signal, too. In the previous model, you were forced to set the resolution up manually.

We connected via DVI and ran our DisplayMate Video Edition test software. The panel passed every test that we ran flawlessly. Theoretically, this TV could be used as a massive computer monitor replacement. The 42in version is feasible for gamers in place of their 24 and 30in monitors. However, the crucial point there would be the response time, which is reported to be a maximum of 4ms. This isn't quite as impressive as some monitors on the market, but is fairly close to the standard and still within working parameters.

Suffice to say, the PC mode on the LC52PD7X is top-notch and it will make any media centre PC owner very happy indeed.

Design, speakers, tuner

One of the most obvious changes since the GD series TVs is the case design. The LC52PD7X comes in glossy piano-black with rounded edges and speakers hidden below the panel. At the rear, there are two HDMI, two Component, two Composite and a DVI port for PC connection. There is no analogue PC port, but considering most video cards these days support DVI, this shouldn't be a problem. There is also a digital audio out port so you can plug your HDMI device directly into the TV and then feed the audio out to your home theatre system.

For a set of integrated speakers, the sound produced is excellent. They are a little lacking in bass and some treble was a little muted, but mid tones were reproduced well and there was no distortion at high volume. Overall, most users will be happy with the sound from this unit. However, if you're going to spend the money on a 52in TV, you might want to spend that little more and get a good home theatre system too.

The integrated TV tuner supports analogue and digital TV signals. The analogue picture quality is fairly poor considering the high resolution of the panel, but standard and high definition digital TV pictures looked good. Obviously, the high definition content was the better of the two, but standard definition broadcasts are still comfortable to view.

Sharp has done an excellent job with the LC52PD7X and it's an improvement on the already excellent AQUOS 52GD7X. The price tag is high for the 52in model, but if you have the cash to spend, you won't be disappointed. For those on a more limited budget, the PD-series 1080p panels are also available in 42in and 46in variants.

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