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Sharp AQUOS LC-32D6U


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  Size: 32" LCD TV
  Resolution: 1366x768
  Contrast: 800:1
  MSRP: $1,999
Sharp AQUOS LC-32D6U LCD HDTV Review
David Colin, March 22, 2006
HDTV Solutions

Five years ago Sharp announced its AQUOS family of three LCD TVs ranging in size from 13" to 20" in diagonal. Today Sharp's AQUOS line includes 19 models ranging in size from 13 to 65 inches with resolutions from VGA (640 x 480) to full high definition (1920 x 1080).

According to DisplaySearch, an Austin, Texas-based market research firm, last quarter Sony, Philips/Magnavox, and Sharp help the top 3 positions for LCD TV market share with 14.6%, 14.2% and 13.6% respectively. LCDs are now the dominate technology in the 35" to 39" size, while plasma continues to dominate the larger size market.

Our subject for this review is the Sharp AQUOS LC-32D6U, a 32-inch diagonal LCD HDTV with 1366 x 768 pixels of resolution and a retail price of $2,099.99. It is sold mostly through specialty retail stores with an average street price of about $1,600.

What's in the Box
The unit comes with a full-featured remote control, batteries, power cable, Operation Manual, a cable tie, and a cable clamp. As seems to be more common these days with new HDTVs, the unit ships without any audio or video cables. Apparently manufacturers assume that most consumers already have these cables or they're simply trying to keep the selling price down. We suspect the latter.

The Package
The AQUOS LC-32D6U, weighing in at 38.6 lbs. (17.5 kg), has a clean, stylish look with a bronze-toned front bezel around a black mask that borders the LCD to enhance the viewing experience. With its table stand the unit measures 10.5" x 25.7" x 31.8" (266 mm x 652 mm x 807 mm) Removing the stand for wall mounting reduces the depth of the unit to 6.1" (15.5 cm) and the height to 23.2" (589 mm). The speaker panel, which is removable, is attached to the bottom of the unit. If you have your own audio system you can remove it and further reduce the height another 3.8 inches (96 mm).

Sharp AQUOS LC-32D6U
The Sharp AQUOS LC-32D6U connector panel is a side panel on the back of the unit. The arrangement allows easy access and attachment of cables from the side. Cables come together behind a removable cable cover for a tidy exit out the back of the unit.

This LCD HDTV accommodates about any kind of connection you might need. Connectors include three video, one S-video, and two component video inputs and their associated audio connections. The S-video and one of the video inputs is also available as an output for playback or recording on other devices. The digital audio can be output in either PCM or Dolby Digital. In addition there are hookups for analog and digital cable for over-the-air reception and cable.

There is also the all important HDMI connector with associated audio jacks in the event you are connecting HDMI to DVI and need to feed audio with a separate set of cables. I say all important because HDMI is where the industry is headed. HDMI combines digital audio, digital video and device control information on a single cable. This substantially reduces the number of cables and connectors, while delivering digital HDTV with full support for HDCP, a feature that will be mandatory if we're ever to get real HD. Ah yes, HDMI also holds the promise for a single remote control to manage all your equipment, but this will take time.

The Sharp AQUOS LC-32D6U is rich with features that we have described below for the benefit of those of you who have been out of the television market for awhile. All HDTVs have some of these features and some have features not on this list.

  • Dynamic Backlight Control - One of the nice features of the Sharp AQUOS LC-32D6U is what Sharp calls OPC, a name they use for their dynamic backlight control. You might also see this feature referred to as a dynamic iris on other LCD HDTVs or disguised under some proprietary name, but fundamentally the principle is the same. Its primary function is to try and maintain a high contrast ratio under any lighting condition. So when room lights come on or off or the sun enters the room, with OPC enabled, the backlight in the LCD will dim or brighten depending on the amount of light in the room. This is managed by a light sensor located on the front of the unit. When OPC is enabled there can be a slight reduction in the dynamic range of the display as the display attempts to maintain contrast and color saturation as room light changes. We had a chance to compare this feature with another LCD HDTV that was of comparable size but without dynamic backlight control, and the Sharp AQUOS LC-32D6U with OPC enabled was the clear preference.
  • CableCARD - For cable TV input the AQUOS LC-32D6U supports CableCARDTM, a thick credit card sized device that replaces your cable set-top box and achieves a more integrated look in your living room. These cards are purchased from your cable company.
  • Timers - If you need something to send the kids to bed, the AQUOS LC-32D6U allows you to power off the unit after a preset time that can be any multiple of 30 minutes. If you have a propensity to fall asleep watching your television, you can set it up to automatically shutdown after 3-hours of operation. If you turn off your DVD player and forget to turn off the HDTV, the AQUOS LC-32D6U will automatically power off after 15 minutes without a signal thus saving you energy and extending the life of your LCD backlight.
  • Audio Only - If you subscribe to the audio channels provided by the various cable and satellite services, the AQUOS LC-32D6U lets you listen to the audio while the video and backlight on your LCD HDTV are turned off, again saving energy and your backlight.
  • 2:3 Pull-down - If you select 2:3 pull-down from the menu, the AQUOS LC-32D6U will automatically detect any film-based source and convert its 24 frames/second to 30 frames per second so it can be properly viewed.
  • Color Temperature - For those of you that like to fine tune your viewing experience, Sharp AQUOS LC-32D6U offers five color temperature settings that are predefined for various viewing material; however, you can also use them to suit your personal preference. High color temperatures are what make those bright HDTVs in the store jump out at you, but it's the low color temperatures that give you the life-like flesh tones you want to see in your movies.
  • Programmable Inputs - The AQUOS LC-32D6U allows you to connect as many as five different input sources and, if you're like me, you can't remember "who's on first." To help you sort it out, Sharp allows you to assign a name to each source. For example, instead of Input 1 and Input 2 you could change the names to identify what is connected to the source such as DVD or XBOX or Cable TV.
  • Presets - Hidden under the cover of the remote control is a feature Sharp calls AV mode. This essentially gives you access to six predefined settings (Standard, Movie, Game, User, Dynamic [Fixed], Dynamic) that you can use to optimize your viewing experience based on the content you're viewing and the ambient room light. The names of these settings give you some help on their intended use, but no matter; as you have a lot of control on color temperature which is important for getting an optimized image. You can assign any AV mode to any input you are viewing

    If you're a videophile, you'll love this. Each AV mode has five different color temperatures. Once you select an AV mode for your viewing source, just click through the color temperature settings to find what you like. You won't find this in the Operation Manual, but below are the color temperatures in Kelvin that are assigned for every setting.


  • Picture Format - Because our video world is in transition, there are many aspect ratios and resolutions that we must deal with - everything from a 4:3 Casblanca to a 2.76:1 Ben-Hur plus everything in between. One size does not fit all and the only solution to the problem is compromise. At present we chop, crop, stretch, squeeze and distort to make things fit in a 16:9 HD display. This is never a perfect solution as we are either throwing away some video or making it up for nearly everything we watch. Sharp's solution is much like other vendors - pick the format that you find most pleasing:
    1. "dot by dot" where the image is shown in its native resolution without any upconverting or downconverting. This is the cleanest image solution.
    2. "smart stretch" where a 4:3 aspect ratio image is upconverted to fill the screen. Sharp does a good job with this, but when you upconvert a source you need to create new information and this always leads to some artifacts.
    3. "side bar" where a 4:3 aspect ratio image is shown in 4:3 aspect ratio with black bars on either side.
    4. "zoom" for viewing widescreen 2:35:1 anamorphic DVDs in full screen.
    5. "stretch" for 1.78:1 DVDs
  • Quick Shoot - This setting allegedly changes the response time of the LCD from 16 ms to 12 ms at the risk of some image artifacts. It is intended for fast action video; however, in a replay of some of the SuperBowl we could not detect any noticeable difference in performance.
  • Closed Caption - The AQUOS LC-32D6U supports both Closed Caption and the new Digital Closed Caption that allows you to set the size, color, style and opacity of caption text. I find closed caption handy for foreign films, when the spouse is sleeping and I have to keep the volume low, or while watching Hamlet - "O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!"
  • V-Chip and Security - Its primary purpose is to keep prying eyes from seeing things they shouldn't. A "Secret Number" is used to protect certain selections you make as well as V-Chip settings. V-Chip settings cover ratings for MPAA (Motion Picture Association Group), TV Parental Guidelines, and Canadian English and Canadian French ratings.
  • Multi-channel Television Sound - Known as MTS, Multi-channel Television Sound provides the ability to receive audio in mono or stereo, and the reception of bilingual Secondary Audio Programs (SAP) when available.
    Remote Control
  • Image Positioning - If you have ever owned an HDTV, you may have experienced the annoying problem of a picture format that you would like, if it wasn't chopping off the top of heads or the scrolling news bar at the bottom of your favorite news service. This problem comes about as a result of overscan, a process that crops the image to fit your HDTV display. Some displays let you reduce the overscan and thereby show more of the image. In the case of the LC-32D6U, rather than reducing the overscan, it allows you to shift the image in the display by up to ±10 pixels horizontally and ± 20 pixels vertically. This let's you fix one of the problems I described above, but in might well cause the other. But hey, it's better than no control at all.
  • Favorite Channels - If you're using the receiver of the LC-32D6U, you can program your favorite channels into 4 different categories.
  • Computer Control - For the geeks out there, Sharp allows you to control this HDTV from a computer using its RS-232C port. We did not experiment with this so all we can say is it is apparently intended for automated program play. It includes the ability to control volume and make adjustments and change settings of various controls. It strikes us as a useful security feature that could simulate someone being home when they're not.
  • Remote Control - The remote control is backlit and gives complete control of all the features of the AQUOS LC-32D6U, and its programmability gives you four separate keys for activating and controlling up to four additional devices such as your cable or satellite receiver, DVD player, VCR or audio system.

We reset the Sharp AQUOS LC-32D6U upon arrival and then went about calibrating it. We were pleased to find that the factory settings were nearly spot on with excellent dynamic range and color saturation. The dynamic backlight control performed admirably maintaining good contrast in a variety of room light.

HD broadcasts are stunning, but low resolution (NTSC) is still better on a standard definition television than the same image upconverted. This problem haunts all HDTVs in the market. Nirvana will be achieved when network programming moves completely to HD. The good news is the move is underway, so your investment in an HDTV now will pay dividends in the future.

The Sharp AQUOS LC-32D6U has excellent image quality and its dynamic backlight control is a worthy feature for managing contrast in ambient light conditions. The extensive control over color temperature, gives the product an edge over many of the competitors in achieving personal viewing preferences.

As is characteristic of all LCD technology, the image will fade as you move to extreme viewing positions. Although the AQUOS LC-32D6U is rated with a 170° viewing angle both horizontally and vertically, you should be aware that as you approach these angles of view the color will shift and the image will begin to fade. So be mindful of your viewing angles when setting up any LCD HDTV.

According to Sharp, the display has 33-bit color processing. This means that with the right material it can produce up to 8.6 billion colors. This is over 500 times more colors than your old CRT television could render. Only 15% of the flat screens in the market today support a higher color processing than your old CRT television.

When shopping for an HDTV, your number one concern should be to get the best picture you can for the money. Pricing for LCD and plasma HDTVs is currently in flux due to more production capacity coming online and plenty of competition. It's a buyers' market.

The Sharp AQUOS LC-32D6U is a product for the discriminating buyer. It has a nice complement of features and a picture that is among the best we have seen.

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