Heading into the 52X20E’s onscreen menus, there’s a pretty extensive suite of adjustments at your disposal. Particularly key are a series of thematic image presets that can make a dramatic difference to the way pictures look, with Standard and Movie being the two we found ourselves drawn to the most.
There’s also an OPC feature that can automatically adjust the picture in response to the light levels in your viewing room; backlight adjustment; a film mode for auto-detection of and adaptation to 24p or 25p images; a virtual surround sound mode; digital noise reduction; and an ‘Action Mode’ that claims to reduce motion blur when showing motion-packed scenes.
It’s not stated anywhere exactly how this Action mode works, but we can only imagine that it’s got something to do with reducing the amount of processing to cut down on the potential for image lag.
As with numerous other Sharp TVs we’ve looked at recently, how well the 52X20E performs depends very much on what you feed it. Which is a round-about way of saying that it’s good with HD and rather average with standard def.
Starting with the HD situation, relatively steady images look absolutely terrific for three main reasons. First, the Full HD resolution is put to full use in reproducing every pixel of data in such 1080-line sources as the BBC’s HD Wimbledon coverage or the Blu-ray of ”Master and Commander”. What’s more, provided you choose the ‘Dot By Dot’ aspect ratio mode, you get to see all this detail without a trace of scaling noise to spoil the show.
Next to catch the eye with HD is the picture’s black level response. Some of the below decks sequences in ”Master And Commander” are extremely dark, yet the 52X20E has a better stab at them than most LCD TVs. In other words, while there is a trace of the familiar LCD grey pall, it’s not so dominating that you can’t see past it to the action going on in even the darkest corners.
The third thing to like about the 52X20E’s HD performance is its colour response. Hues of all shades are vibrantly saturated, immaculately blended, and best of all terrifically natural, even when showing the notoriously tricky combination of skin tones and grass that pretty much sums up your average Wimbledon image.