HT's Inaugural LCD Face Off What Do You Think?

What Do You Think?

It was rather relaxing only having to participate in a Face Off, instead of putting it together and running it. After it all, the only conclusion I could come to is this: I wouldn't want any of these displays. There was something (well, usually more than one thing) in each that completely turned me off. The Sony made everything look like Cybill Shepherd in Moonlighting (as in softer than hot margarine). The Sharp, despite a great contrast ratio, black level, and detail, had processing anomalies that made some things just look weird. Forced to pick, I said the Hitachi—even though it moronically crushes blacks (something you can't defeat). It had the least amount of motion blur (my number-one peeve with LCDs) and the widest viewing angle (my number-two peeve). I just don't get it. Plasmas aren't perfect, but, for a lot less, you can have one that is larger and looks a whole lot better than any of these.—Geoffrey Morrison

All three TVs in this Face Off had problems, although, with some test sequences, I had difficulty discerning much significant difference. In the end, I picked the Sharp as my favorite. The Sony too often looked washed out, so I ranked it in last place. The Hitachi, which I ranked in second place, had the richest colors, but fleshtones often looked too red. It was also dimmer than the other sets, and the detail was the most insufficient of the three. A sequence we watched from Lost that included a long close-up of a man's face made this abundantly evident. However, the Sharp excelled with this sequence. The detail was superb, as were fleshtones. Still, the Sharp was guilty of also looking washed out at times, and, in a sequence we watched from Chicago, some of the more subtle light-to-dark transitions were very digital looking.—Nikhil Burman

Choosing a winner in this Face Off was extremely challenging. I'd like to say that each display was so stellar and pristine that choosing one over the others was difficult, neigh impossible. Unfortunately, each was so mediocre, it was more about which display was least offensive overall. For me, detail in blacks is very important, and, when the Hitachi and (to some extent) the Sony crushed blacks, I was turned off. It was easier for me to deal with the blur and mild noise of the Sharp—the one I'd buy if these were the only televisions available. Otherwise, I'd buy a plasma.—John Higgins

Our Face Off Demo Material

Test Scenes
HDTV Calibration Wizard, Chapter 7
A white cue ball rolls across a green pool table; tests motion blur and detail

Gladiator, Chapter 12
An overhead pan of the Coliseum; tests film processing and detail

HQV Benchmark DVD, Flag Test
A flag blows in the wind next to a brick building; tests video processing and detail

Chicago, Chapter 5
Women sing on a darkened stage, lit by spotlight; tests light-to-dark transitions and black detail

General DVD Content
Kill Bill, Volume 1, Chapter 3
Corpse Bride, Chapter 5

HDTV Content
CBS, NCAA basketball in 1080i
ABC, Lost in 720p