Sharp Aquos LC-52D92U 52-inch LCD HDTV
Had you asked me this time last year which of the competing flat-panel TV technologies I'd recommend, my response would have been quick and decisive: plasma. After testing a number of exceptional late-model LCD TVs, however, I can no longer hold that line. LCD performance has come a very long way. And some credit for that must go to Sharp, a company that seems dead-set on delivering LCD TVs with deep blacks - a characteristic that's traditionally been a problem for the technology.
Sharp certainly got the style part down with the LC-52D92U. Its screen is surrounded by a gloss-black bezel with metallic gray edging. A matching black stand comes with the TV, and Sharp also sells an optional wall mount for $349. The set comes with a horizontal speaker that you can attach to its bottom edge for built-in TV sound or leave off altogether.
The LC-52D92U provides a comprehensive array of inputs on its back panel. Along with three HDMI jacks, you get a DVI-I port, two component-video sets, and an RS-232C terminal for hooking up to a home control system. Its remote control has a fairly clean layout as well as a fully backlit keypad. To switch sources, you hit the Input button and scroll through active inputs using the remote's arrow keys. Depending on whether you're watching a standard- or high-definition program, hitting View Mode gives you a menu with appropriate aspect ratio selections. For standard 4:3 sources you can choose between Side Bar (displays 4:3 programs with no alteration), Zoom, Stretch, and Smart Stretch (stretches the picture edges and leaves the center intact). For high-def, you get the additional choice of Dot-by-Dot mode, which displays 1080i/p programs with no stretching or scaling.