Unleashed on a variety of our favourite testing things, the 46X8E is OK. It doesn’t do anything really bad, nor does it do anything really exciting.
During the night-time sequences in the superb Blu-ray transfer of Coen Brothers' Oscar Winner No Country For Old Men, its black levels are usually pretty good, but also suffer enough greyness to hide some depth-giving background details.
Similarly, while colours are well-saturated and bright, some tones don’t look particularly ‘right’. Reds in particular can look washed out and a bit orangey, and skin tones during dark scenes can appear slightly salmony.
The TV’s standard definition performance is also an extremely mixed bag. Provided you avoid the ridiculously over-aggressive Dynamic AV mode, there is at least not much in the way of video noise to report. But at the same time standard definition pictures tend to look distractingly soft – a million miles from, say, the sharpness seen with standard def on many Philips or JVC TVs, to name but two.
Then there’s the TV’s motion handling. Thankfully, there isn't too much in the way of motion smearing, but there’s definitely more judder than you get with Sharp’s generally decent 100Hz TVs.
To be fair, we guess this latter issue is arguably more a function of the TV’s price than the other issues we’ve identified. As in, there are 100Hz Sharp TVs available if you want to pay more for the extra processing power.
The single best thing about the 46X8E’s picture performance is the way it raises its game in the sharpness department when fed a really good quality HD source like the aforementioned No Country For Old Men Blu-ray. Every last wrinkle etched onto Tommy Lee Jones’ extraordinarily ‘landscaped’ face is scarily apparent during the (in)famous final scene, for instance. And you feel like you can make out individual grains of sand in the Texan wasteland so much of the film takes place on.
Thanks to this talent the 46X8E can perform really well for its money during extremely bright, usually outdoor, colour-rich HD sequences. It’s just a shame that pretty much nothing you’ll ever watch consists exclusively of extremely bright, usually outdoor, colour-rich HD sequences…
Sonically the 46X8E is – you guessed it! – a mixed bag. It pushes the soundstage surprisingly wide given the apparently small size of its speakers, and has an uncanny knack with treble details, picking out every high-pitched subtlety of even the densest audio mix.
But unfortunately this treble emphasis seems to come at the expense of any major bass accompaniment, leaving soundtracks sometimes sounding really quite harsh and exposed when the going gets tough.
There are moments when it’s easy to love the LC-46X8E’s pictures. And it’s really not a bad price, all things considered. But we just can’t ignore the fact that there are also plenty of moments where it falls conspicuously short of the best we’ve seen elsewhere.