The world of AV technology is never standing still. It’s always innovating and changing. And that process of innovation and change seems to have kicked into overdrive at the moment - with two rather pleasing results.
First, of course, there always seems to be some weird and occasionally wonderful new technology around to give us journalist types plenty to write about. And second, products seem to be going through some really quite dramatic price cuts in the course of their increasingly short lifespans, as replacement models almost continually loom on the horizon.
This latter phenomenon can certainly be seen at work with Sharp’s 46X20E. This 46in LCD TV started out life at around the £1,300 mark only a few months ago, but incredibly we’ve just found it selling online today for under £730. Let’s just repeat that: 46in of LCD pictures from a respected brand for less than £730.
Needless to say, this sort of value equation gets the 46X20E off to a great start as far as this review is concerned. But with Sharp TVs proving a little hit and miss of late, is its price the only thing the 46X20E has in its favour?
Nope. For if nothing else it’s quite an attractive TV thanks to its slender, gloss-black bezel and silver ‘wave’ along the bottom edge. We’re a bit peeved to find Sharp calling the 46X20E ‘Slim Line’ when in fact it’s nothing like as skinny round the back as true ‘ultra slim’ sets such as Hitachi’s UT32MH70U and JVC’s 42DS9. But at least its bezel width is genuinely narrow, enabling the 46X20E to potentially fit in a space where you might have imagined only a 42in TV could reside.
In terms of connections, the 46X20E passes muster without exactly blowing us away. Which is to say that it manages three HDMIs built to the v1.3 specification, as well as a dedicated D-Sub PC port, an RS232 control jack for easy integration into a wider home cinema system, and a digital audio output. In an ideal world some sort of multimedia port – SD card slot, USB input – might have been nice, too. But the 46X20E’s lowly price makes this pretty easy to forgive and forget.
As with pretty much every screen bigger than 42in we’re seeing these days, the 46X20E sports a Full HD resolution for scaling-free HD playback. It’s also got a fast 4ms response time, and a handy-looking 10,000:1 contrast ratio achieved via a dynamic backlight system that dims the screen’s light output during dark scenes to boost black levels.
There are a number of LCD screens around quoting higher dynamic contrast ratios, but the 46X20E’s key ‘native’ (achieved with no dynamic backlight) contrast ratio of 2,000:1 is actually up there with the best.