Sharp AQUOS LC-37D64U Review
37" 1080p LCD HDTV, $1199
Though released earlier in the year, the AQUOS LC-37D64U remains at the top of Sharp's line in the 37" size. And it is the only current Sharp model in that size that sports a 1080p display.
Perhaps a bit shy of all the features that you may expect from a high-end HDTV, the LC-37D64U still makes its namesake proud by producing a sharp, full-bodied picture.
The gate has officially closed on our roundup of 37" LCD HDTVs from different manufacturers. (We had hoped to wrangle one last stallion from Panasonic, but it escaped our lasso.) We are reviewing each individually and then will aggregate our opinions in a comparison article. This Sharp AQUOS is the seventh one in the corral. (You can read the other reviews here: LG 37LG50, Samsung LN37A550, Toshiba REGZA 37RV530U, and VIZIO VO37L, AOC Envision L37W861 and Sony BRAVIA 37XBR6.)
(Editor's Note: The Sharp LC-32D64U was released about the same time as its bigger sibling. This 32" AQUOS has similar specs to the LC-37D64U and this review can be applied to it also. In 2007, Sharp started shipping three other models in their D64U series, the 52" LC-52D64U, the 46" LC-46D64U and the 42" LC-42D64U. I wrote about the LC-52D64U earlier and that review can be applied to the larger TVs.)
Our Star Ratings
The video performance on the Sharp is very good, the audio only O.K. If you plan to match it with a separate audio system, then add a half point.
With only two HDMI inputs, the Sharp LC-37D64U may be a non-starter for those who require multiple inputs. Also, this model doesn't offer a USB port for uploading photos or a PIP feature. On the plus side, the picture control tool set is robust enough for those DIYers who want to fine tune their TVs.
Ease of Use: 4.0
Since the LC-37D64U doesn't contain a lot of extras, the basic operation is straightforward. And adjusting the picture is easy enough once you find the AV Mode button.
This AQUOS is not priced at the top end of the 37" 1080p LCDs in our roundup, which reflects its limited feature set. But if all you need is a basic HDTV that produces a great picture (with so-so sound), then it's definitely worth comparison shopping for this Sharp LC-37D64U.
Star Ratings Description
Ratings are relative to when the review was written. The obvious example is Value, what you could purchase for $2000 two years ago or even two months ago would seem like a bad value for that price now. We have given only a precious few 5 Star ratings, which we reserve for truly outstanding accomplishment.
Out of the Box
From the front, the main distinction between this Sharp and the other 37" TVs in the lineup is the metallic gray grille at the bottom of the frame. If you look from the side, you see that the screen is actually offset in front of this speaker enclosure, which curves gracefully back.
Other than that, this over 45 pound (with stand), 3.75" wide (sans stand) TV looks pretty much like all the others in the group. Though, I will admit that the piano black bezel on this AQUOS is noticeably thinner at 1.25", which makes it the least wide of the lot (35.36"). If you have an especially tight fitting TV cabinet, reducing the extra inch may be crucial.
LC-37D64U Back Panel Diagram
The side connection panel, just around the back right edge, does not include an HDMI input that I have come to expect. It does supply a Component input and a Composite input with matching stereo Audio Ins and a Service port.
Next to this mini-panel on the back and facing out, the larger panel furnishes just two HDMI inputs, (one with matching stereo Audio Ins), one Component input (YPbPr) with matching stereo Audio Ins, one VGA (15 pin D-Sub) with a minijack Audio In, one S-Video, one Composite (with Audio), a digital Audio Out (optical), a stereo analog Audio Out, and a RS-232C port.
For most newer model HDTVs, a minimum of three HDMI inputs is the norm. Of course, many of you may not need more than two, but those inputs can fill up fast with cable set top boxes, DVD players, and game boxes.
The one RF antenna input connects to integrated NTSC/ATSC/QAM tuners. Since the tuner system is Clear QAM compatible, you can attach your cable TV signal directly into the RF connector and tune in unscrambled cable stations.
In none of its current models has Sharp included a USB port for uploading photos or music files. The LC-37D64U also does not offer an Ethernet capability. You would need to jump to the AQUOS LC-52SE94U to find that feature.
To add to the list, this Sharp does not include picture-in-picture. You simply need to decide if the lack of any of these features is a deal breaker. If they aren't, then you can walk on the sunny side of the street. The LC-37D64U is a basic uncluttered HDTV that delivers a great picture.
Keeping with the glass-half-full theme, the remote control is backlit - partially. Pushing the Light button, illuminates the Volume and Channel rockers and a few other buttons surrounding them. The rest remain unlit.(Hint: if you expose the remote to even overcast lighting, the Light button will recharge and glow green so you locate it in a dark room.) The buttons are not particularly large but the white labels against the dark gray background are easy enough to read.
I do have one specific peeve about this remote that relates to the Picture Menu system. In most Picture Menus you can change the Picture Mode, (for example, from Movie to Standard), directly in the menu. For some reason, the Sharp designers decided to allow you to make this change only with a dedicated button on the remote, which is labeled AV Mode.
O.K. I thought I'll go along with that. Now, where is the button? After searching in vain, I thought, maybe there's one of those flip-out doors on the remote. And lo and behold, there it is, hiding with six other subterranean buttons - all of which could easily be brought to the surface and placed in the sun with all the rest of their brethren.
We have begun to measure the power consumption of our review units. Our process is straightforward. We plug the TV into a watt meter, called Watts up? Pro, and take a simple sampling of readings during the playback of a full screen video clip.
The first measurement is at the TV's default picture settings, which are often some form of Vivid. To Sharp's credit, when you unpack the TV and turn it on for the first time, the setup procedure asks if you have a store or home environment. If you pick store, the Picture Mode defaults to a very Vivid-like Dynamic mode. If you choose home, then the default is a much milder Standard.
For comparison, we took a measurement at Dynamic, which was in the 163 to 169 watt range. Sharp's manual states power consumption at 200W. At the Standard default, the reading dropped to 124 to 125 watts. Movie was even lower at about 83W.
We also take a reading after we adjust the picture to our preference, which is a much less bright image than Dynamic. The power consumption lowered to 80 to 82W. Of course, depending on how you like to set up your TV, your mileage may vary.
Finally, we turn off the TV and measure how much power it is using. Many older TVs still suck a lot of electricity even when they are switched off. When we turned off the LC-37D64U, the meter plummeted to 0. Sharp states the Standby consumption as less than .7W.
The start up time from Standby was a respectable 7 to 8 seconds.
To calibrate the monitor, we use the the Blu-ray version of the Digital Video Essentials DVD called HD Basics. We are playing the DVD on a Pioneer BDP-94HD Blu-ray player connected to the HDTV with an HDMI cable.
We use the test patterns to adjust black level, white level, and color bias. The player is set to output a 1080p signal, which is the native resolution of the LC-37D64U.
The Picture menu provides the basic adjustments, Contrast, Brightness, Color (Saturation), Tint (Hue), Sharpness, and Backlight.
Once you locate the AV Mode button, you will be able to pick from one of seven Picture Mode presets: Dynamic, Dynamic (Fixed), Standard, Movie, User, Game and PC.
I chose User, then moved to the Color Temperature settings, which range from High (the bluish end) to Low (the reddish). I opted for Middle. Next, I turned down the Backlight to fit my dim, light-controlled room.
The default settings were very good starting points. After the initial setup, I still thought the red was too prominent. Therefore, with my configuration of equipment, I moved the Tint a tad towards Green.
Sharp also provides a number of Advanced Picture controls including C.M.S. - Hue and C.M.S. - Saturation. I nudged the Red hue towards Yellow.
You can experiment with Active Contrast. Sharp also provides a feature called O.P.C., which automatically adjusts the brightness of the screen depending on the room conditions. You can set the range of brightness within which the O.P.C. will fluctuate.
One final note, if you desire that signature Sharp image, then you can pump up Sharpness. I found that any setting below the middle zero will tend to soften the image. When I pushed it above about 3, I saw some telltale fringing.
This is the last of seven reviews of 37" TVs and I'm running short of ways to say that when playing HD content the picture quality is lovely.
I just spent an hour watching a variety of programs on this Sharp and the Sony BRAVIA 37XBR6 side by side. College football, Project Runway, The Weather Channel, Pride and Prejudice, House. I even sampled the delightfully urbane Trouble in Paradise, the B&W 1932 Ernst Lubitsch comedy.
Were there differences, yes, but slight and inconsistent. I would waver between the two on which I preferred. Both were a pleasure to watch.
I connected my laptop through the VGA Out to the TV's VGA In. The manual states the highest resolution for the TV's VGA is 1600 x 1200. I found that setting the laptop's video card to 1360 x 768 gave me an image with the proper aspect ratio.
I changed the Picture Mode on the TV to PC and then lowered the Backlight. Text on web pages was a bit choppy. I would suggest if your computer's video card has a DVI or HDMI out, use it to connect to the Sharp. You can then set your resolution to the TV's native 1920 x 1080.
The audio quality of the AQUOS is O.K., but nothing to sing about and definitely not how you want to listen to concert DVDs. At high volumes, the speakers sound tinny.
The Audio Menu doesn't offer much in reinforcements. It basically contains the common controls, Treble and Bass, with only Surround and Bass Enhancer features thrown in.
For a bedroom, the audio will do. If you are dreaming about home theater, buy a dedicated audio system.
With its great picture quality, the AQUOS LC-37D64U would be a welcome addition to a family room or my bedroom. But at 37" and with non-stellar audio, I would ban it from the home theater.