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Sharp Aquos LC-42XL2E 42in LCD TV - Sharp Aquos LC-42XL2E
There actually isn't very much wrong with the 42XL2E's HD pictures at all, in fact. As I hinted earlier, occasionally some colour tones look a touch over-ripe. Also you have to be a bit careful with some of the TV's settings; for instance, I'd recommend always using the Movie preset but making sure the backlight is knocked back to no more than 60 per cent, and that the ‘advanced' Film mode setting is deactivated as it can introduce some odd twitching artefacts over horizontal motion. But provided you take these precautions, the 42XL2E should leave HD fans very happy.
Shame the 42XL2E's standard definition performance is nowhere near as good. Presumably because of issues with the set's rescaling processors, colour tones tend to look markedly less credible while you're watching standard definition fare; there seems to be more glitching around moving objects, and the picture generally looks a little softer than it ideally should - especially if you've got some low-level noise reduction in play to counter the otherwise slightly over-obvious MPEG noise.
Sonically the 42XL2E is a real disappointment. Things are OK during relatively quiet moments, such as the Blood Diamond sequence where Archer, Vandy and Bowen head through the jungle after ditching their vehicle following an attack on their convoy. At such peaceful moments the amount of detail in the mix is impressive. But the moment things kick into any sort of action gear, such as during the RUF assault on Freetown, a pretty disastrous lack of dynamic range becomes apparent, leaving the soundstage sounding cramped, thin and flat as a pancake.
If you're in the market for a pretty-looking HD telly, the 42XL2E is worth checking out, as it's one of the best LCD TVs around when the source quality is high. But its weak audio and average standard definition efforts make it a trickier recommendation as a straight ‘living room' TV.