The latest in what appears to be a never-ending series of LCD TVs from Sharp, the 46in LC-46X8E, is actually a bit of an oddity.
For starters, it’s a one off; there are no other X8E models around right now at any different sizes, and we haven’t heard of any more coming soon.
Even more peculiarly, it’s actually based, in terms of its key specification, on a section of Sharp’s range known by a completely different name: the B20 AQUOS Series, which comprises two models in 37 and 42in sizes. But it’s got a few differences we’ll cover in a moment.
And finally, unusually in today’s marketplace, it’s sold exclusively by one retailer – in this case, John Lewis. As we say: weird. But is it also wonderful?
It’s a very attractive TV, that’s for sure. On one level it follows Sharp’s current penchant for a pretty slim, gloss black bezel offset by a silvery ‘wave’ along the bottom edge. Look a little closer, though, and the key points that make the 46X8E different from the B20 models slowly emerge. The desktop stand it ships with, for instance, is smaller than Sharp’s usual models, and the TV’s speaker inserts look a bit smarter. Probably because, as it turns out, they’re made of titanium. Ooh, fancy.
At this point, I have to say that while I just about ‘get’ the titanium inserts, I don’t really understand the need for the smaller desktop stand. Unless John Lewis has identified a curious situation where its customers more often than not have unusually small TV cabinets…
Anyhoo, lets briefly cover the specifications that the 46X8E shares with its B20 ‘half brothers’. Essentially, you’re talking a Full HD resolution; Sharp’s dedicated 24p Cinema Input mode for enhanced Blu-ray playback; a response time of 6ms; and a 10,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio.
This is a fair enough specification, I guess, but I can’t help but notice that there’s no 100Hz processing to sharpen and smooth motion. And there’s also no hiding the fact that the 10,000:1 contrast ratio figure falls some way short of the sort of figures being bandied around now by many rival LCD TVs. Though before we get too hung up on this, let’s not forget that manufacturer’s quoted contrast figures are notoriously unreliable, and so it could just be that Sharp is being more honest than most!
In terms of connections, the 46X8E boasts three v1.3 HDMIs, a D-Sub PC port, and all the other modern ‘essentials’, plus an RS-232 port for system integration - a fair effort given the 46X8E’s reasonable (especially by John Lewis standards!) price.