Sharp Aquos LC37XD1E 37in HD TV
There's high-definition and then there's high-definition
Review There's HD and then there's full HD. While both will give you better pictures than normal TV, the latter offers a degree of future proofing by enabling you to take advantage of 1080p, the highest HD resolution currently in use. With both Blu-ray and HD DVD supporting it, you'll need a Full HD TV such as Sharp's LC37XD1E to experience the best high definition currently has to offer.
For Full HD, you need a panel with a native resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, which enables it to display the whole image from a 1080p source without having to downscale it. However, unless you sit really close to your TV, the increased resolution only really makes sense for sets bigger than 32in. The LC37XD1E has the required number of pixels to display 1080p and a screen size of 37in, making it a good companion for HD DVD or Blu-ray.
Stepping up from 720p to 1080p does make a difference - there's a noticeable increase in the level of detail, especially backgrounds or crowd scenes, and the image is crisper. However, it's not as great as the jump from standard definition to high definition. That said, if you've opted for HD DVD or Blu-ray, than it makes sense to go for a Full HD TV so you can take advantage of the additional resolution available. Explosion scenes in The Matrix did look stunning when viewed at 1080p.
The majority of your viewing schedule is still likely to be taken up with standard definition material. The LC37XD1E does the best it can with the signal, but there's no escaping the fact you're watching a low resolution source. Freeview images were sharp, but there were noticeable artefacts from the compression visible.
The Freeview EPG and menu also looked at little basic - with blocky text and very little styling. It feels bolted on when compared to the TVs main menu system which is much more polished.
Overall performance was very good, with realistic flesh tones and well defined colours. The large 176° viewing angle means you should be able to see a decent picture from most places in the room.
Sharp has included two HDMI interfaces - which is enough for now, but an extra one wouldn't have gone a miss for future proofing. Only one has an analogue audio input, useful if you're attaching a DVI source via an adapter.
My parents bought one of these a few months ago and I can confirm that it is indeed a beautiful set not only to look at but to watch both tv/sky/freeview and dvd's on.
High def/standard + artefacts
Fair enough, you can complain about the different versions of "high def" TVs(720/1080 - not including the progressive/interlaced varieties!) but it was inevitable when they created two resolutions. I understand the rationale behind it too - some production companies won't want to added expense of upgrading their kit to accommodate that. So 720 is a reasonable happy-medium - similar to bandwidth restrictions on broadcasting.
As for the artefacts, they were already there! I've been seeing artefacts from the digital era since before I had an HD box - they were just harder to spot. It's very similar to the way in which DAB radio promised us better quality than analogue but failed dramatically, DTV is exactly the same. From what I recall, it's a very compressed MPEG2 stream - the broadcasting companies chose quantity of quality. Next time you see an artefact, blame one of the "quiz" channels for wasting part of the spectrum (and oxygen!). Bring back analogue, all is forgiven.
This is proper 1080p
I have this TV and can confirm that it is a real Full HD set - I spent a long time waiting for these to appear in smaller screen sizes. The manual specifies assorted limitations that appear to be fictional, and just trying them out should confirm that 1920x1080 is fully available.
Standard-def Sky still looks great on this TV. I think the reviewer is just saying it looks second rate after you've been watching 1080p sources. I've got a PC hooked up with HDMI, and a PS3 through the other HDMI, both of which look fantastic. The Sky-box through SCART looks poor by comparison, but still looks a lot better than on my old TV.
so....its still Samsung territory then
Reg hardware reviews really should have a small 'better than' or 'same as' boxout - or even a mini league for kit thats on the same page as the conclusion. but from this review, it looks like the only real 37" FullHD player is the Samsung LE37M87 (part of the new 'tulip' range)
When is the TV industry going to realize ...
... that I want to listen to my television on my A/V receiver, and not some $10 stereo speakers on the TV? One would think that someone like Sony (who's receiver we have) would figure that out.