Sharp Elite PRO-X5FD 3D LED LCD

Last month, Sharp unveiled its new Elite-branded LED-backlit LCD flat panels, which I hadn't seen until now. Licensing the Elite moniker from Pioneer—which collaborated on the new panels—Sharp has hit a grand slam, filling a distinct void in high-end flat panels left by Pioneer's departure from the TV business. The PRO-X5FD has all the bells and whistles—3D (including 2D-to-3D conversion with user-controllable effect), access to online content (Netflix, Vudu, etc.), THX certification for both 2D and 3D, and ISF certification to name a few.

The new panels' exceptional performance is due in large part to something Sharp calls Intelligent Variable Contrast (IVC). This umbrella term encompasses full-array LED backlighting with local dimming and a version of Quattron technology dubbed Precision Color Plus, which adds yellow subpixels to red, green, and blue. The Sharp rep called it "Quattron on steroids."

One unique 3D feature is found in the active-shutter glasses, two of which ship with each set. A two-position switch lets you select whether to watch 3D content in 3D or 2D, which means everyone can watch 3D in the most comfortable way for them.

In addition to providing access to online streaming content, a feature called Elite Advantage Live allows a remote technician to control the entire TV via the Internet, troubleshooting problems and correcting picture settings. Even better, this service is free for the life of the TV.

The demo was conducted in a totally blacked out room, and the result was absolutely stunning. Blacks were easily as deep as the Kuro—and possibly deeper, even when displaying real-world images—and it clearly blows the Kuro out of the water in terms of brightness thanks to IVC's ability to punch up bright objects without raising blacks, which is especially good news for 3D. Colors were rich and vivid without being garish, and detail was razor-sharp. Amazingly, shots of fireworks against a black night sky showed no sign of haloing, a common problem with LED-backlit sets.

So what's the catch? For one thing, the image still degrades when viewed from far off axis as with all LCD displays, but not as much as I've seen with most other LCDs. But most of all, it's the price. The 60-inch model will set you back $6000, while the 70-incher is a whopping $8500! In my opinion, exceedingly high cost was the fatal flaw that killed the Kuro, so I wonder how well the new Sharp Elite TVs will fare. They are shipping now, and we are working on getting one in for review as soon as possible.

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COMMENTS
jnemesh's picture

Sharp is making these sets for Elite. They are IDENTICAL to the upper end Sharp models, but with a hefty price added on. The ONLY differences are THX certification/factory calibration and a "Pure Elite" A/V mode which bypasses all video processing. I think they are taking a HUGE gamble here...will customers pay $6500 for a 60" and $8500 for a 70" set when they can get (almost) the SAME EXACT PANEL for half the cost??

Oh, and the "unique" feature that lets you watch 3D in 2D mode? Guess what? Its not unique, Sharp branded 3D sets also have that feature.

Personally, I think the new "Elite" sets are DOOMED.

Scott Wilkinson's picture
I'll have to ask the Sharp folks about your statements here. One thing's for sure, Sharp is not making the sets "for" Elite; they licensed the Elite brand name from Pioneer to put on these sets. Also, I think you mean the feature that lets you see 2D in 3D mode...
jnemesh's picture

I didnt realize the nature of the agreement between Sharp and Elite. I guess it makes more sense that Sharp is licensing the name.

Just to be clear, its not that I dont see any value in a premium set (I am VERY excited about the new Panasonic TH65VX300!), its just that I dont think they are adding enough to justify the incredible difference in price. Since the actual LCD panel will be the same, the only difference there could possibly be is in the video processing. The "pure Elite" mode is a welcome addition..but what ELSE differentiates these sets?

I AM a huge Sharp fan, by the way. I LOVE the fact that they still have variable analog audio out (its getting hard to find on most other brands!), and they are VERY integration friendly, with RS-232 and IP control...and (shocker!) the codes and protocols are right in the USER manual! Good stuff! I initially didn't like their "Quattron" sets, but then found that the problems I had with the image quality were due to their "Film Mode"...which apparently is a motion interpolation setting (I assumed that "Film Mode" was 3:2 pulldown...nope, not here!). After I turned off "Quad Pixel Plus", "Motion Enhancement" and "Film Mode", I find that the Sharp 835 series Quattron sets compete VERY well with other top end LED sets on the market...and it doesn't hurt that they are less expensive either!

I do have a dealer that is wanting to bring an Elite over to my showroom so we can do a side by side comparison. I think you guys should do the same! (especially since we don't have the equipment or expertise to do proper calibrations here!) I am VERY interested in seeing how the Elite compares to the Sharp!

Oh, one last thing. I stated that I thought the "Elite" effort by Sharp was "DOOMED"...I should clarify. I have watched the high end panel market disintegrate over the past few years. Runco is struggling to sell their panels, Pioneer just quit, Fujitsu is done, and there are others. Its not that I don't think the new Elite sets are junk...I am sure they are quite nice. But I do think that the market has changed considerably. It used to be a good argument to your customers to have them spend more money on a quality display...the lower end sets, even as recently as 3 years ago had CONSIDERABLY lower picture quality, and you could make the case that the investment on a high end panel would ensure that your customer had a top quality set that would last for YEARS. Now, even the entry level TVs are pretty darn good, scaling is less of an issue now that we have HDTV in abundance and Blu-Ray, and most customers are looking for a set to last 3-5 years instead of 10-15. Based on the performance of other companies trying to sell premium displays, I think the new Elites are going to have an uphill battle.

AVtheaterguy's picture

Just some clarification on the two models...

The 835 uses LED Edge lighting with the high contrast glossy screen (similar to the Samsung LED tvs).

The 735 implements LED backlighting (although no local dimming), and incorporates the "anti-glare" matte finished screen.

Beyond that they're pretty similar products, although the 835 series does have a higher contrast ratio (according to the specs).

OlsonR's picture

There is more with Sharp than Panasonic from Pioneer :)

for the most from your Elite, ControlCAL Elite X5 Edition v2 is available and gives you full access to the Sharp Elite PRO-60X5FD and PRO-70X5FD ISFccc Interface for calibration.

See: http://www.controlcal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=790

rsabio's picture

these are not just rebadged Sharp HDTV's, but rather a collaborative effort with Pioneer's former KURO team in releasing a premium-end television. The only problem I have with this set, and all Quattron sets, is the yellow pixel gimmick. A yellow pixel is not needed and in no way enhances the picture quality. These sets may indeed be the "KURO Killers" everyone has been looking for.

Scott Wilkinson's picture
This is exactly what was said at today's press conference, which was held in the Pioneer booth. As for the yellow subpixels, it was claimed that they provide additional brightness, since yellow is the brightest of all six colors. I totally agree that a yellow subpixel is not needed for color, and in fact can easily do more harm than good in that regard, but I can see how it might increase the overall brightness.
figuredmaple's picture

I'm looking forward to reading a detailed review here at HomeTheater.com with a calibrated set.

utopianemo's picture

Scott, since you're the only one on this thread who has actually seen the Sharp Elite in action, I'll defer to your experience that it produced a superior image.

Robert Zohn's picture

And I'm looking forward to your review. Just wanted to comment on a few exclusive differences the Elite TVs have over all other Sharp models.

1. The Elite's are full array back-lit with 300 local dimming zones, all other Sharps are edge lit. The black level is so superior to any other TV on the market today it clearly jumps off our shoot-out wall.

2. The built-in video processor is a joint development between Pioneer's Fuga processor engineers, no Sharp TV has this processor.

3. The Elite TVs have the beautifully calibrated THX movie mode, the Elite Pure mode and ISF day and ISF night modes, no Sharp panel has these very accurate modes.

4. All Elite products come with a 2 year warranty.

I love the black anodized brushed metal bezel and overall clean design. But above all is the absolutely stunning image quality this new Elite TV delivers that everyone who sees this panel falls in love with.

-Robert

David Vaughn's picture
Robert, Great to see you posting on the site! I recommend your store to friends and family and I've been meaning to thank you for helping out my friend David G. in Davis, CA with his Panasonic plasma!
Robert Zohn's picture

We love Home Theater on-line and the print magazine.

-Robert

jnemesh's picture

Thank you for clarifying the difference between the Elite models and the Sharps! I wasnt aware that the Elites were full local dimming backlit LEDs instead of the edge lit style like the Sharps. This alone should make a HUGE difference! The extra year of warranty coverage is very nice as well. Good luck with the new models!

airlinepilot717's picture

Robert I have heard numerous reports that the 735 is full back lit.

your saying it its NOT?

chrisheinonen's picture

I was in the same room with Scott today at CEDIA and can attest that the image was stunning. The 60" that looked to be turned off but was actually on was amazing in the level of black. For an LCD, I've never seen black levels close to this in person. I also have no idea how Scott has the time to post as much as he does and deal with comments while at CEDIA, since it's a crazy time.

Scott Wilkinson's picture
You're absolutely right, CEDIA is a crazy time! Over the years, I've learned to write very short posts for the most part, but I thought the Sharp deserved a longer writeup.

I agree that the 60-incher looked like it was turned off when, in fact, it was on, which is amazing enough. However, I've seen other LED-illuminated LCDs do the same thing when displaying a full black field by completely turning off the LEDs. What really floored me was that the black level didn't appear to rise at all when there was bright text or fireworks on a black background, and with no haloing to boot. Now that's hard to do on an LCD TV!

chrisheinonen's picture

The lack of halos was astounding. Pioneer and Sharp did a good job of picking material that many vendors might not choose to show off their LED backlit set with fireworks. I looked for halos or other lighting issues from the LEDs but did't really spot any. One of the best things I have seen so far at the show.

Jarod's picture

Awesome sets these are! I would love to afford the Elite Pro 70. Robert great to see you post here! I'm really really enjoying my new Panasonic 55ST30 I ordered from you!

AVtheaterguy's picture

I've had the 60" Elite on my showroom floor for about three weeks now (apparently we were the first to get it in the LA area).

First and foremost I'm an ELITE lover, and I recommend Plasma TVs to as many people as possible with the lighting condition that permits it. My parents have an Elite, my grandparents have an Elite, my best friend has an Elite, my A/V mentor has 6 Elites in his home, and I used to own an Elite, and back in 2006/7/8 when we all used to sell Pioneers and Pioneer Elites, it was just an "okay" saturday if you only moved one of the 42's and one of the 50's, and when you did the triple crown (42,50,60) you were having a good day. Bottom line, I've been around more ELITES than most, and I've setup and installed more than I can remember.

Now here's my thoughts...

Previous to receiving the Elite my favorite retail screens were the Samsung D8000 series plasmas, the Sony XBR929, and the 70" sharps (cuz hey they're 70 inch!!). The D8000 and XBR had hands down the best picture in the Store. In response to what someone said earlier about the Sharp 835 series, they make a very nice screen, and value wise they are a heck of a buy, but they don't hold a flame to the top Sony LCD/LED or Samsung Plamsa IMO.

Then we got the ELITE...AND EVERYTHING CHANGED. Clients have been asking me for months what I thought about the new ELITES that were coming out, and all I could say was, "I HOPE its the next TV I truly want to buy." I say hope because that's all I could do. We all knew basically what the unit was, but no one had seen it except for a demo, and there was little coverage on that line show.

So here's the deal. THIS IS THE BEST PICTURE YOU CAN BUY RETAIL RIGHT NOW PERIOD.

The blacks Trump the XBR. The Color saturation and accuracy beat out the Samsung D8000 (to my eye). The motion processing beats out the Sony XBR for sure, and feels way more like a Plasma TV than any of the other LCD/LED tvs on my showroom (we carry and show the FULL lineup of Sony, LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, and Mitsubishi).

We have it on display next to a Panasonic GT30 (which looks great I might add), and with regular TV content, the ELITE blows the Panny out of the water. Its clearly better in every way. The CLARITY of the set is truly what makes it great. THERE IS ZERO picture noise. Its truly like you're looking through a window.

We've played a ton of content on it since we put it up. The first thing I wanted to check out was THE DARK KNIGHT. The shots of the Hong Kong Skyline at night with Batman gliding down to the building was just AWESOME. INKY INKY blacks with virtually Zero haloing around anything lit up truly showed me why it demands a price tag that is twice that of the Sony XBR.

After the Dark Knight wowed me, I dropped in my new copy of The Island on Blu-Ray. The whole opening sequence with the Speed Yacht, and the ocean and cliffside felt like I was there. The depth of field this TV creates is like Glasses free 3D (and that's a quote from multiple clients, although I share the same thought).

For the final demo, and what I've kept in the Elite Blu-Ray since the inital check out, we have AVATAR. Just go straight to chapter 17 when Jake Sully gets his bird, sit back and enjoy. The depth of field, the color, the motion, the WARMTH, all of it make it the best I've seen that section yet (this is my AVATAR demo scene).

I have played with the set with both the Y pixel on and off, and while I know on paper that it messes with the accuracy, all it seems to do is make things that much more "THERE". Ive watched pre-season football and some college games on it, and the grass just looks GREEN (and not like the look on the rest of the Quattron TVs). This was something I was very happy about because the old Elites always had a little trouble with the green.

I really like the User interface, and it is its own design, and not just a copy of the Sharp TV interface. I cannot comment on the Internet Streaming as we have not done any setup for that, and since I'm not an owner I can't tell you about the Elite Live support (but how cool is that!!).

Well I've written a ton, and if you've read it, I can only bet that you're an ELITE fan just as I am. Go to your local ELITE dealer and check this thing out, cuz its the first "Breathtaking" TV I've seen in a while.

If you're in Southern California in the Calabasas, Thousand Oaks, Valley, come check out the Elite at my showroom, Video & Audio Center.

Long Live the ELITE,

-Adam

JustinGN's picture

I was never lucky enough to see a Kuro in action, so I'm very eager to check out these sets as soon as I can. After tinkering with Sharp's own 70" TV at Best Buy, I wasn't entirely pleased by the picture after a very basic calibration - it all looked very muted and bland in an eyeball-adjusted custom mode, and Movie Mode looked worse than that. Watching Star Trek clips at 24fps in a straight 5:5 pulldown was nice, but ultimately it didn't feel like film to me.

Anyways, I digress.

If Sharp has really made a set that good, color me impressed. As an IT guy, I adore the addition of that sort of remote access feature for troubleshooting and tweaking, though I wish there was a way for the end user (or the end user's tech-savvy relatives) to get a simple diagnostic report from the TV via a web browser, or configure some of the more difficult or cumbersome settings that way (such as naming ATSC channels, programming Parental Controls, etc). As for the black level, I love my Panasonic Plasma and its inky blacks, but I hate the burn-in I experience playing games. If the new Elite TVs can replicate the picture of a G20 or VT30 Plasma panel, but without that pesky burn-in problem, consider me sold on the biggest size I can get.

cbono's picture

Scott,

Care to comment and/or speculate as to whether Pioneer has any other collaboration plans in the works with Sharp (or others) to incorporate their engineering expertise into a plasma panel?

Scott Wilkinson's picture
I'm sure that Sharp will not be making plasmas, and I seriously doubt that Pioneer will work with other companies now that they have a strong relationship with Sharp...not to mention that Sharp is now the largest stockholder in Pioneer. I've asked Panasonic many times if they plan to incorporate Kuro technology in their plasmas, since they have the intellectual property rights and many of Pioneer's plasma engineers, but they say no, it's too expensive.
notabadname's picture

This is the TV I've been waiting for it sounds (well, minus passive, Full-HD-3D). Excited to see the full array LED with local dimming, and virtually no halos. I don't find it's price too high for the performance you get. People loose far more in depreciation of their autos they trade every 5 years and spend less time with normally. Think about it, $8,000 grand over five years is $133 / month. That's no more than my monthly cell bill or Direct TV bill. And I am sure I would get a decade of use from this, which halves that monthly cost again.

Plus, Sony sold it's last 70 incher for $12,000. So this seems reasonable for top-of-the-line. I can't wait to see it in person, and read a full review. Thanks for all the great info and comments everyone!

AVtheaterguy's picture

@notabadname...

You found that 70" XBR7 for only $12k!!! That was a deal for that thing! I remember when I had it tagged for like $18K!!!!

notabadname's picture

You're absolutely correct, I was recalling their 70" RPT with LCoS. It was $12 K.

The LCD was $19,999 when last sold on their site. So this, which would blow that away, seems even more of a value at $8 K ;) Thanks.

AVtheaterguy's picture

@notabadname...

Loved the 70" SXRD!!! When I worked in Magnolia, we rocked that thing in our front display. I remember having it setup with Superman Returns on Loop during a black friday with the checkout line going through the whole shop. I think some people even got to "watch the whole movie" (slow cashiers!!)...

Anyways...from what I've seen so far with the 60" ELITE (cuz I haven't displayed the 70" yet), its truly THE TV that everyone was hoping it would be.

If you stand far enough away from it (like 30-40 feet), the depth of field is like almost 3D without glasses!!!

TheJoBoo's picture

Surprisingly, for all the reporting on Runco products, the V-50HD and V-63HD deserve more than a mention. These new Vistage series sets are BETTER than the last Kuro's that rolled off the line. Having sold many Pioneer Elite displays, I did not make that statement lightly.

Obviously, LED without pixel level dimming will never be able to hold a candle to a well made plasma. Sharp being Sharp, the new "Elite" TVs are definitely a bad idea.

For anyone wanting the best flat panel image that can be had, these 50" and 63" from Runco are worth every penny. (I know you can't order them from some deep discount internet dealer or pick them up on a deal from a big chain pretending to care about higher performance AV experience. This is the case with all premium goods and should remain that way. Support local business. Call your Runco dealer!)

gunhed's picture

Scott, can we assume a formal review of an X5FD is forthcoming ? I have to say though, despite being a huge fan of Pioneer, I would be more interested in a review of a Panasonic vx300 series panel they are plasmas and can display PAL frequencies. Like many Kuro owners I have been looking for a suitable replacement going forward and I must say the poster above has got me very interested in the Runco Vistage series. Please review both soon !

tvlcdnet's picture

Tv Lcd
Treat yourself to an immersive experience with the 40-inch LCD TV from Philips. It features Pixel Precise HD Technology that enables viewers to watch content that is vivid, natural, and real. Plus, the full HD LCD. It gives the stunning picture quality and amazing clarity with a 1080p full HD resolution.

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