Having been stuck with a good but frankly old school CRT set I have been busting to upgrade my TV for absolutely ages. However recently my wife's 'there's nothing wrong with it' approach started to soften and in the end we are both big gadget fans anyway. So we started to look for an nice LCD.
We looked at a lovely 32" Samsung set which was superb but my wife wanted something bigger than that so I found a LG 36" which was equally nice. Strangely my wife said she wanted something bigger still (no metaphors here) and hiding my excitement we settled on going for a 40" which would give the best balance of image quality and size relative to where we wanted to position it. Still not entirely satisfied she then said that we may as well upgrade the screen quality to LED for the small difference in money, about £100. Consequently I am chomping at the bit now to get it ordered and dispatched!
Finally the day arrived and it was here, in a huge box. When you are in the store looking at the 60" set don't buy it unless you live in a huge open plan warehouse or it will totally dominate the area. Still we wanted a nice focal point and I think the 40" was just about right.
Out of the box:
Not much in there really. A huge high gloss black screen and a weighty glass base with stainless steel trim. Assembly was a simple 5 minute job and then it was time to mate it up to the other kit. A variety of cables were included, the most useful being HDMI converters, and the remote with accompanying AAA batteries. No standard HDMI cable though I noticed but not a big issue.
As with most sets these days the installation pretty much takes care of itself. Once I had connected my PVR and Blu Ray switching on the set presents the first time installation menu. I chose the set up language, the home over shop option, digital channels, terrestrial broadcast and then the process is underway. The graphic states to allow 15 minutes but the reality is less than half of that. Soon after everything is ready to go and you can enjoy your new TV!
There are a huge amount of settings to play with for those who really want to tweak their set to exacting specifications but I left the colours on the default levels. The main areas to look at are Setup, Tool, Link, EPG and CH list.
Setup and Tool are the main sub menus that give the greatest variety of setting adjustments, primarily installation settings, screen options, colours and environmental options. Personally I chose to use advanced power save mode which reduces the brightness of the set to save energy although LED sets are very economical to run anyway. The Aquos also has an ambient light sensor which automatically adjusts the screen brightness according to environmental changes such as turning off the room lights.
Link refers to Aquos Link which is a system that supported Sharp peripherals can directly communicate with the TV so for example you can operate a Blu Ray player with the TV remote control. It's a nice little touch though obviously limited in comparison to dedicated unit remotes.
EPG and CH list allows you to modify the way that information is presented on screen and set up preferences to timed scheduling.
This TV looks absolutely gorgeous and the high gloss finish is lush. The black bezel is outer finished on the side with silver to compliment the stand. The lower part of the bezel has a clear glass edge which features illuminating touch sensitive buttons that respond nicely to a slight press.
The actual screen is very nice and SD channels look good depending on which channel you are watching. They tend to broadcast at 576i though some still seem to be better quality than others but the standard is high. The integrated Freeview HD tuner gives access to the 4 currently available HD channels namely BBC One HD, BBC HD, ITV 1 HD and CH4 HD, all of which look fantastic. I have to say that I think that the BBC ones tend to be ever so slightly better.
The Sharp Aquos is marketed for it's unique extra pixel technology which adds yellow to the traditional RGB sub matrix giving a much broader range of colour reproduction. This does seem to make a difference in scenes where there is a great range of colour for example in Larkrise to Candleford where there is a lot of yellows, golds and browns in the country scenes.
The full HD 1920*1080 is truly brought to life however when using Blu Ray media. The quality of the images are totally stunning and so much clearer and more precise than any images I have seen previously. I didn't think there would be much difference between LCD and LED but there absolutely is. They're not poles apart but when you are spending a lot of money on a big item such as a TV the you should get the best you can afford. I am certainly very happy we chose LED.
The sound is equally good with loud and clear tones across the range. You may want to mate it up to a surround sound system or the Sharp soundbar but I have found it more than capable. There is no distortion in the sound when you really want to crank it high for the big blockbusters. The digital amplifier is mated to 2 x 10w speakers and a 15w sub woofer.
Width 99.3 cm
Depth 27.5 cm
Height 65.9 cm
Weight 19.5 kg
Enclosure Colour Piano black and mirror front with silver frame
Product Type 40" LCD TV
Dimensions With stand
PC Interface VGA (HD-15)
Video Interface Component, composite, HDMI, SCART
HDMI Ports Qty 4 port(s)
Power Device Power supply - internal
Technology TFT active matrix
Features Optical Picture Control (OPC), AQUOS LINK, USB MP3 playback, USB JPEG photo playback, DivX movie playback, X-GEN panel, USB Media Player, Quattron Quad Pixel Technology, USB DivX HD movie playback, ECO picture control (EPC), film dejudder, Smart AV Mode I
Diagonal Size 40" - widescreen
Display Format 1080p (FullHD)
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Enhanced Refresh Rate 100 Hz
Connector Type 4 x HDMI ( 19 pin HDMI Type A ) ¦ 1 x SCART ( 21 PIN SCART ) ¦ Composite video/audio input ( RCA phono x 3 ) ¦ Component video input ( RCA phono x 3 ) ¦ Headphones ( mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm ) ¦ Audio line-in ( RCA phono x 2 ) ¦ Digital audio output (optical) ( TOS Link ) ¦ VGA input ( 15 PIN HD D-Sub (HD-15) ¦ Serial ( 9 PIN D-Sub ) ¦ USB ( 4 PIN USB Type A )
Slot Provided Common Interface slot
Speaker(s) 2 x right/left channel speaker - built-in - 10 Watt ¦ 1 x subwoofer - built-in - 15 Watt
Output Power / Total 35 Watt
Sound Output Mode Stereo
Type Remote control - infrared
Digital TV Tuner
Digital TV Service Freeview HD
Absolutely superb TV with excellent design and build quality. The colour reproduction and image clarity is simply stunning making viewing a pleasure. There is a comprehensive and intuitive menu system which is easy to navigate and offers endless amounts of tweaks to fine tune your set to your requirements. If you are still not sure of the jump to three dimensions (too early for me) then this set provides one of the best consumer experiences available. Expect to pay in the region of £650 for this model but shop around as I have seen it priced at over £1000.