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Sharp LC-37D64U LCD HDTV Print E-mail
Friday, 01 August 2008
Article Index
Sharp LC-37D64U LCD HDTV
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The Downside
Given that the LC-37D64U has five color temperatures to choose from, I’m disappointed that Sharp didn’t include one warm option for those enthusiasts who want something close to 6,500 Kelvin. Even the low color temp setting is overly cool (or blue), particularly with darker content.  Both the nighttime skies and the white snow of The Corpse Bride’s chapter five contained too much blue, as did the dimly lit grays that so often permeate C.S.I. on CBS HD.  The Sharp’s color temp isn’t excessively inaccurate, but I personally prefer a warmer tone, as I find that it makes the image look fuller and more inviting.  Cool tones tend to flatten everything out.  This TV lacks user-accessible white-balance controls and can’t be professionally calibrated, so there’s way to address this concern.

The LC-37D64U also exhibits some common LCD performance issues.  Its viewing angle is not terribly wide; even at 45 degrees off-axis, image saturation falls off fairly significantly.  The picture is certainly watchable at wide angles, but you lose the benefits gained by the better black level and contrast ratio you get straight on.  This TV does not use 120Hz or other technology to address motion blur; it does have a 6ms response time, but I saw a clear loss of detail in faster-moving content, both with test patterns from my FPD Software Group Blu-ray disc and with real-world high-def hockey/basketball games.  Motion blur is less obvious on a smaller screen, but again, it ties into the resolution-vs.-price debate.

The most troublesome issue with the LC-37D64U is a blatant brightness uniformity problem in which the left and right sides of the screen are clearly brighter than the middle.  This was evident with white and black test patterns, but was especially pronounced with gray. As such, in my Ladder 49 DVD, where gray smoke hangs over the scene in chapter 10, the screen’s brighter edges were very noticeable; it was like I was watching a dream sequence with hazy edges.  With 1.85:1 or 2.35:1 DVD content that contains black bars, the left side of the bars was clearly brighter than the middle or right.  This was less of a concern with brighter HDTV content, but it was at times very distracting with darker DVD and Blu-ray movies.

Finally, don’t expect much fullness or bass from the tiny speaker bar that runs along the bottom of the TV.  Not surprisingly, the audio quality is fairly thin and treble-heavy, and dynamic ability is not outstanding.  You’ll get better results by adding an outboard audio system.

I have indeed been spoiled lately – not only because I’ve reviewed big-screen flat panels, but because I’ve reviewed several higher-end LCDs that have redefined performance expectations for LCDs.  The LC-37D64U isn’t quite at that level, performing more like a good traditional LCD. Its average black level and viewing angle, motion blur and especially brightness uniformity keep it from being a real “theater-worthy” TV, but hey, 37 inches isn’t exactly a theater-worthy screen size anyhow.  The LC-37D64U excels at rendering a bright, colorful and extremely detailed image in a daytime viewing environment.  HDTV looks great, which makes this an especially good fit for the TV lover who will use it primarily for daily HDTV and SDTV viewing, but would also like to enjoy a nice-looking DVD or Blu-ray movie from time to time.

While I saw some advantages to 1080p at this screen size, I’m still not entirely convinced you need it – particularly when there are so many 37-inch, 768p models priced under $1,000.  Sharp’s own LC-37D44U is available for under $900 through reputable online retailers, and its specs are otherwise similar to those of the D64U.  If price isn’t a major concern for you, then I say go for 1080p. But, if a couple hundred dollars in savings is a big deal, it’s okay to step down to 768p.  It’s still high-def and can still look fantastic, no matter what the salesperson tries to tell you on the retail floor.

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