Moving on, the problem now is that the quality of the HD imaging merely serves to exaggerate the extent to which things deteriorate with standard definition.
With standard def the picture looks softer than we’d like, some slightly odd colour tones creep in from time to time, and noise levels are quite high. Noise issues include jaggedness around some edges, a slightly patchwork look to skin, a tendency to emphasise MPEG shimmer and blocking in lower quality digital broadcasts, and most noticeably of all, quite a bit of motion blur.
It’s in this motion blur that we suddenly become all too aware of the fact that unlike Sharp’s XL2 models, the 52X20E does not have 100Hz processing to help counter LCD’s traditional problems dealing with rapid movement.
In fact, it’s not for nothing that I stressed earlier that only relatively steady HD images look good. For even with HD there are noticeable motion blurring troubles, particularly where faces are moving quickly within the frame. In fact, occasionally, especially during camera pans, the picture actually looks as if it’s appearing behind a very fine layer of mesh.
Activating the Action mode helps improve all this a little, it should be said, and the smearing isn’t often really distractingly severe. But in no way does the 52X20E scale the same picture heights as Sharp’s latest 100Hz models.
As a final negative point, I have to say that the screen’s viewing angle is none too impressive either. Viewing from more than 40 degrees or so to the side causes considerable drop off in the picture’s black levels, and the viewing angle tolerance is even less in the vertical plane.
Turning to the 52X20E’s sound, it’s a little bit disappointing, truth be told. For while it sounds quite nice and clear at relatively low volumes, try to ramp up the noise to the sort of levels needed to do a 52in Hollywood blockbuster proud, and the soundstage becomes thin, overcrowded, short of bass, and even prone to distortion.
The 52X20E is aggressively priced for such a large LCD TV, and when it’s good, it’s very good indeed. The problem is that these ‘very good’ moments only tend to happen when you’re watching a steady image; the rest of the time – i.e. MOST of the time – it’s merely a solid effort that’s clearly missing the love of a good 100Hz system.