Like Sharp’s previous two players, the BD-HP22H also offers a Quick Start mode, so you don’t have to sit twiddling your thumbs while it boots up from standby. The trade-off for this is higher energy consumption when left in standby, but if you can put up with the eco-guilt and higher electricity bills then it’s worth using, as the deck fires up instantaneously.
Sadly though, that doesn’t translate into faster disc loading times. We sat patiently for one minute and seven seconds before ”Spider-Man 3’s” first video screen popped up, while ”Monsters Inc.” started playing after 50 seconds. This is pretty much the same as the HP21H, underlining the real lack of progress made by its successor.
Using the Sharp is generally a hassle-free process, thanks to the simple onscreen displays and thoughtfully laid out remote. The main menu takes up the whole screen and uses bright and colourful graphics, which look a bit old-fashioned but at least they’ll make Blu-ray newcomers feel right at home.
Select the Settings menu and a long list of options appears, covering all of the relevant bases including network settings, HDMI output preferences and front panel display options – the only thing you won’t find are any picture or sound adjustments. We like the way every menu option is explained in plain English when you highlight it.
The Sharp makes up for its problems elsewhere with an impressive picture performance, which can’t match the absolute purity of the Pioneer BDP-LX52 or even the Philips BDP7300, but is a lot better than you might expect from a budget player. ”Monsters Inc.” on Blu-ray looks absolutely stunning, with the Sharp rendering every last pixel of this beautiful 1080p transfer with aplomb.
The sharpness and clarity of the picture is entrancing, in particular Sulley’s wispy fur and the meticulously rendered textures of the buildings on Monstropolis main street. The shot of this street at the start of chapter 5 is beautiful, boasting strong shadow work and hard, crisp edges. Look closely and its budget price tag is betrayed by the slightest hint of noise in one or two areas of the picture, but it’s not a major problem.