Sharp Aquos LC-37G4U 37-inch LCD HDTV Monitor Page 3

As good as the Sharp's color reproduction was, all was not perfect. Having watched countless movies on a similar-size tube TV, I found it hard to overlook the difference between that set's smooth, solid picture and the grainy texture of the Sharp's image. Viewed up close, colors were also smeared in shots with motion, although this wasn't as evident at a normal seating distance of 8 feet or so.

I was wowed by the Sharp's ability to consistently convey solid blacks on everything I watched. Even so, shadow detail was missing in the interior shots of the island's huts in The Thin Red Line, with the dim areas coming across as a flat, dark mass. And in a later segment, where the uppity Witt is disciplined by his superior, the dark backgrounds of the interrogation room lent the shots an unintended chiaroscuro effect. Sharp Aquos LCD back

Thanks to NBC's almost round-the-clock coverage of the Summer Olympics, I had plenty of great HDTV to watch. The swimming and gymnastics events that I caught looked fantastic - onscreen graphics were so crisp, it was like looking at a computer monitor. And hard-edged fields of color in the omnipresent signage and uniforms of the Olympians were strikingly crisp and clean.

PLUSBright, crisp picture. Wide viewing angle. Plentiful picture adjustments.

MINUSLimited shadow detail. No aspect ratio control with HDTV programs. Pricey.

As with DVD images, bold colors like red and orange were well balanced with other hues, and picture detail was very good. It wasn't enough to distinguish pool water from the tears that both streamed down the face of Romania's Camelia Potec after she clinched first place in the 200-meter freestyle, but I could see the details in a German swimmer's tribal-pattern tattoo as she lunged from the starting block.

After experiencing this set's great handling of HDTV, I actually found it depressing to go back to watching analog cable channels. The TV seemed to exaggerate video noise in some programs, however, including a baseball game on ESPN2. Selecting the High digital video noise-reduction setting helped remove horizontal bands I was seeing, but at the expense of picture detail.

BOTTOM LINE Sharp's LC-37G4U is the first flat-panel LCD TV I've tested, and overall I was impressed. At $6,000, it faces stiff competition from plasma sets that offer more screen real estate for the money, but none of those are as light as the 43-pound Sharp, and few can match its performance in brightly lit rooms.

In the Lab

Color temperature (Low color temperature before/after calibration) Low window (30-IRE) .............. 5,834/6,480 K High window (100-IRE) ........... 5,544/6,578 K

Brightness (100-IRE window before/after calibration): 57.1/56.2 ftL

The Sharp measured within 1,000 K of the 6,500-K standard on both high and low windows with its Low and Medium/Low color-temperature presets. Additional service-menu calibration resulted in a more accurate alignment, although grayscale tracking varied within 900 K of the standard - a higher than usual fluctuation. (Calibration needs to be performed by a qualified technician with specialized equipment, so discuss it with your dealer before purchase, or call the Imaging Science Foundation at 561-997-9073.)

A minor degree of red push measured with the color-decoding error pattern from the Avia test DVD was easily corrected with the set's Color Management System. Picture overscan was average, measuring around 3%. With the sharpness control set to just below the midway point, resolution was maintained and there was no sign of edge enhancement.

- A.G.