The next LC-32X20E feature to catch our eye is a claimed contrast ratio of 10,000:1 – a very high figure indeed for a 32in TV, and one which I have to say I’m slightly sceptical about. In keeping with practically all LCD TVs these days the LC-32X30E employs a dynamic backlight system to improve its black level response, by dimming the image’s brightness when a dark scene is detected. And my suspicion is that when calculating the blackest parts of the LC-32X20E’s contrast ratio, Sharp’s engineers probably had the brightness turned down practically to zero.
Still, to be fair to Sharp it also provides a ‘native’ contrast ratio figure of 2,000:1, achievable without employing a dimming backlight. And this likely more credible feature is still quite impressive versus similar figures provided by a number of rival brands.
Other features of the LC-32X20E important to its home cinema potential include this little lot: 24p support via HDMI for the purest delivery of your lovely Blu-rays; manual backlight adjustment; a built-in light sensor that the TV can use to adjust the picture settings automatically to best suit the ambient light conditions; two different progressive scan modes; a pseudo surround sound processor; and finally an Ecology mode which emphasises the TV’s green credentials by combining the light sensor with various standby modes and ‘auto-off’ features to try and make sure the TV never wastes any electricity.
And so we get to the million dollar question: is the LC-32X20E exceptional enough as a performer to deliver the full HD difference? And if it isn’t, is it at least good enough to justify its £600-odd price?
Regarding the first issue, I have to say that the LC-32X20E doesn’t quite deliver a true full HD experience for the simple reason that the picture doesn’t look quite crisp enough. Sure, there’s easily enough definition to make the picture look HD, but there’s seldom that extra full HD ‘snap’, even if I stick my face pretty much right up against the screen.
To be fair, the subtler colour blends and, especially, the reduced video noise associated with full HD screens when watching 1080-line sources are delivered by the LC-32X20E. This means exceptionally high quality HD source images, such as Sky HD’s recent broadcast of ”Zulu”, can look superb. But with the majority of footage I just can’t escape the feeling that I’ve seen HD Ready 32in pictures that look sharper.