Sharp Elite PRO-60X5FD 3D LED LCD HDTV

2D Performance
3D Performance
Price: $6,000 At A Glance: Class-leading blacks and shadow detail • Superb resolution • Bright, vivid 3D

When Pioneer announced it was dropping out of the HDTV business in 2009 (its remaining sets were available on a limited basis until early 2010), the video world shuddered. While there were sets at the time that could at least match Pioneer’s Elite-branded Kuro models with respect to color, resolution, and video processing, most independent observers—and most A/V reviewers—agreed that no other sets could equal the Pioneers’ black level. But in an era of dropping flat-panel prices, Pioneer couldn’t hope to match the competition’s stickers while retaining the quality it was known for, and they succumbed to market forces.

Enter Sharp, a company with LCDs in its genes. No, Sharp has not suddenly decided to get into the plasma business. Instead, it acquired the rights to use the Elite name (but not the Kuro designation) in a new line of high-end LCD sets. These would not be badged as either Sharps or Pioneers, but rather marketed simply as Elites.

But there was more to Pioneer’s involvement here than the simple use of the Elite name, the model numbers (strikingly reminiscent of the Kuros’), and the similar design of the sets’ aesthetics, remotes, and user manuals. According to Sharp, Pioneer provided key input on picture quality and “picture DNA,” although it was not involved in the design beyond providing remote codes for compatibility with Pioneer Elite A/V gear.

The new Elite LCDs also share the old Elite Kuros’ high prices. In fact, given today’s generally lower flat-panel prices vis-à-vis the competition when the Kuros were in production, the new Elites’ prices look even higher. There are currently two Elite models. The 60-incher, our PRO-60X5FD review unit, will set you back $6,000 (MSRP). The larger 70-inch PRO-70X5FD is $8,500. But it’s worth pointing out at this stage of the review that while you don’t always get what you pay for in this world, you often do.

What’s Inside?
Make no mistake: The Elites are not simply Sharp HDTVs with Elite badges and prices. The Elite LCD panels are produced in Sharp’s advanced Generation 10 plant in Sakai, Japan, and employ a new liquid crystal technology (versus Sharp-branded panels) that is said to make the crystals “smaller, softer, thinner, and faster.” Beyond starting with this new LCD panel, Sharp says its engineers weren’t limited to hitting any particular price point—clear enough from those premium stickers.

The sets offer all the features you expect in a modern HDTV, plus a few you don’t. They’re 3D ready and THX certified. You can access the Web either via Wi-Fi or a direct Ethernet link to your home network; Web services include Vudu, Netflix, and YouTube, among others. Sharp provides full calibration features, including both two- and 10-point white balance controls and full color management. Full LED- backlit local dimming helps produce the inky blacks we all crave. Sharp hasn’t released and won’t confirm the number of dimming zones they’re using, but sources have told us it’s 240 zones in our 60-inch model and 336 zones in the 70-inch.

The Elite sets also offer Sharp’s Advantage Live program. If a problem arises, you can establish a direct Internet connection between your set and Sharp’s technicians for a diagnosis or remote adjustments.

At the top of the Elites’ unique feature set is Intelligent Variable Contrast (IVC), with five options: local dimming off, local dimming on, and three advanced settings. Local dimming positions clusters of LEDs behind the screen. These zones dim selectively according to the demands of the image in their specific areas; that is, the LEDs behind the dark areas darken, while the LEDs behind brighter areas remain bright. The advanced positions (low, middle, and high) also have local dimming but in addition engage IVC, which “controls brightness and backlight to create depth of color, brilliance, detail, and dark scenes.” In other words, it includes additional processing that makes bright highlights, such as fireworks against a night sky, pop out more vividly against far darker backgrounds.

I found the advanced settings (mostly low) beneficial on bland-looking cable channels, or with significant room lighting, or, in particular, for 3D. But for normal 2D movie watching in dim room lighting, I avoided them, staying with local dimming only. On bright scenes, the advanced selections introduced an unpleasant glare when viewed in a dimly lit or darkened room, even on their low setting.

The only additional features I found helpful were color temperature, color management, and gamma. As for a number of the others, I generally left them off or in their default positions. One surprisingly missing feature is picture-in-picture or any similar multi-image capability, which might be important to some buyers.

In most 1080p HDTVs, each of the 1920 by 1080 pixels that make up the image (about 2 million total) include active red, green, and blue elements—or subpixels. But Elite’s RGB+Y technology adds a separate yellow subpixel to the mix. (Sharp uses similar technology in its Quattron sets, but there it’s called Quad Pixel.) Yellow isn’t a native component in our video source materials; they contain only red, green, and blue, from which all of the other colors, including yellow, are normally derived. But in the Elite, the yellow pixels are driven with a signal that electronically derives within the set from the red, green, and blue primaries. With separately driven yellow pixels, Sharp can exercise more control over this color, which is a major component in fleshtones, various metals (particularly brass and gold), light-colored hair, and, of course, yellow objects. The approach is unique to Sharp at the moment and is promoted as an advance, but whether the visible result is really a more accurate reproduction of the source is another matter.

The Elite’s motion enhancement feature has four different settings, including off. All of them activate frame interpolation. One of the settings, FluidMotion, also appears to darken the image somewhat, which indicates the use of a supplementary motion smoothing technique called dark-frame insertion. The set normally operates at a native refresh rate of 120 hertz, but a scanning backlight produces an effective 240-Hz frame rate. When the set receives a 2D source at 24 frames per second (fps), it adds four new frames for each of the real frames to reach 120 Hz. With motion enhancement engaged, the Elite interpolates the new frames from the real frames; with it off, the set simply repeats the extra frames. For sources at 60p (or 1080i sources that have first been converted to 1080p/60 either externally or within the set), only one added frame is needed—either interpolated or repeated—to reach the 120-Hz refresh rate. For 24-fps 3D sources, which input 48 fps (24 fps for each eye) to the set, the refresh rate changes to 96 Hz. I don’t need to repeat here my often-stated dislike for the soap-opera, video-ish look that motion interpolation gives to movies, but your opinion may vary. I didn’t use this feature and didn’t find motion smear to be a significant problem for the Elite on most films, even without it.

Of the 13 A/V modes (including ISF day and night—accessible only after a professional calibration), I gravitated first to the Elite pure mode. But it proved anything but pure and appeared to alter the color gamut based on brightness level, pushing it wider as the picture got dimmer. After I discovered this and other limitations, I switched to the movie (THX) mode for all of my calibrations and viewing.

The Elite comes with two pair of rechargeable 3D glasses, with extras available for $100 each. The 3D features include a 2D-to-3D conversion mode (like most, it’s moderately effective but no substitute for the real thing), a 3D brightness boost feature, and a switch on the 3D glasses that lets you change the image to 2D for those in the group who are bothered by the 3D effect.

The Elite’s reflective-glass screen surface, though common in today’s high-end sets, will likely be an issue for some of you who can’t control ambient light to minimize glare. The remote was functional. It doesn’t have too many or too small buttons and has a mostly intuitive layout (except for the Netflix button that I kept hitting because it’s located directly below the navigation control). The backlighting is dim and doesn’t illuminate the buttons’ labels. There’s no app to convert your iWhatever or megadroid into a remote control for the Elite, nor is this capability anticipated as an update for this year’s models.

2D Performance
The Elite’s performance was average on our Video Test Bench. The 2:2 HD and 2:2 SD failings are common even among today’s best sets. On the MA (motion adaptive) HD test, which involves a rotating bar against a stationary resolution pattern, there was intermittent flickering in the stationary pattern viewed from an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray player (which played fine on my Pioneer Kuro PRO-141FD) but no flickering from a Panasonic DMP-BDT210. It wasn’t serious enough to deny a passing grade, and I saw no sign of the flickering with normal program sources on either player.

While the PRO-60X5FD’s post-calibration color was for the most part vibrant and in some cases stunning, on some (but not all) familiar mid-low to low-brightness scenes, fleshtones were a bit more reddish than I’m used to seeing. I turned down the color control, which helped, although the right setting of this control varied between discs. Yellows and golds were vivid, but at least in my preferred mode—movie (THX)—they were only subtly more so than on competing sets. I expected a more dramatic difference, but since the calibrated movie (THX) mode produced both a very accurate gray scale and color gamut, I shouldn’t have been surprised. Other modes, such as Elite pure out of the box, produced more exaggerated (but not cartoonish) golds and yellows.

Unlike a few other local-dimming sets we’ve tested recently, the Elite’s screen doesn’t go totally black when you feed it a full-field black source; that is, the LED backlighting doesn’t completely shut off. You can just make out the screen in a darkened room (as you can, by the way, in the final-production generation of Pioneer Elite Kuro plasmas). But turn on any room lights with the new Elite, and the blacks totally disappear. In a darkened room, the black bars on 2.35:1 or 4:3 films also disappear, except on the very darkest scenes where our pupils open wide and we become sensitive to even the merest hint of light.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a black-level and shadow-detail torture test. Near the beginning, when Harry and Dumbledore travel to a darkened village late at night, you can see every detail in the shadows, and the image doesn’t become either crushed or grayed out. The result was just as impressive when Harry is deposited into a dark field outside of the Weasley house, or when he arrives at the gates of Hogwarts, or later as he and Dumbledore search for Voldemort’s horcrux in a dark cave.

Stargate: Continuum opens with one of the more difficult to reproduce star fields I’ve seen. The Elite performs beautifully on this test. All of the local-dimming sets I’ve tested recently have produced distinct halos around the brightest stars, since it’s difficult for even a small zone of LED backlights to pinpoint only a single star without having the light spill over into the black background. The Elite was the first such set I’ve reviewed that was completely free of these halos—both here and on other program material.

COMMENTS's picture

I have seen the TV in person. I was not impressed with the picture quality given the technology this TV contains. With that being said, the TV may have not been set up properly. The blacks were certainly no better than my Sony KDL46XBR CCFL LCD. I'm sure the Elite is capable of much more than what I saw. The same store had a Sony 929 series LCD. The picture on the Sony was very bright and had deep blacks, but the brightness was incredible! The Sony was probably in torch mode, but it made an impression! Go look at the Elite and judge for yourself. I'm sure with some tweaking the Elite I saw would be impressive because the demos of the Elite I have seen on YouTube show very deep black levels and outstanding brightness. Maybe I should take by Sony ES bluray player to the store and feed it a quality picture and tweak the controls, but I'm not going to buy the TV, so why bother? I enjoy my Sony LCD just fine (just wish it was bigger). The point is to enjoy the content viewed on YOUR TV! Thanks for the review Home Theater!

Scott Wilkinson's picture
The Sharp you saw must have been set up poorly. I spent a couple of hours watching the one at Tom's, and it looked spectacular, definitely on par with the Pioneer Kuro sitting right next to it.'s picture

I have not doubt. You are the expert and I trust your opinion. Imagine how disappointed I was to actually be able to see this TV and realize it was not set up properly. I was impressed with Sharp's 920 and 925 series of TVs. I found the extra pop from the yellow subpixel added much to the picture quality and had high hopes for the Elite. Maybe TVs have bad days too :-)'s picture

BTW, I am not knocking the Elite. I would love to own one because I know I could set it up better than what I saw.

Scott Wilkinson's picture
It's a shame that some dealers don't know how to set up a TV, especially one as special as this one.
JazzGuyy's picture

Either Tom's Kuro is only 50" or the model number needs to be corrected. The 60" set is the 151FD not the 141FD, which is 50". I've got a 151 so I am familiar with the model designation.

ThePolice26's picture

You're mistaken. 141fd is a 60 inch Signature Elite. The 50in model is the 101fd. Both of these were monitor sets. The 50 inch model to the 151fd was the 111fd.

LaoChe's picture

It looks like you already made the correction.

anakinskye's picture

This tv is right next to the VT Panasonic series at Abt and I was not impressed. I had the money for either and bought the VT. No contest. They were both fed the same program material and the VT has better resolution with both panels set to the cinema preset with the sharpness control set to zero. Measurements aren't everything. Sorry. No contest in resolution.

theo's picture

Scott, how bad is the blurring on this set? The one thing I really, really like about plasmas is that great sense of motion--from film to sports. The LCD motion blur really bothers me. So how does this set compare with motion blur and soap opera effect. I don't have a 120hz tv so I've seen the soap opera effect before but not super-familiar with it. Tom mentions it in the review, but that's about it.

Thomas J. Norton's picture
Theo: The soap opera effect results when you engage a set's motion interpolation feature. For this to work properly, a set's refresh rate must usually be a minimum of 120Hz (96Hz for 24Hz sources—I suppose it may be theoretically possible to do a refresh rate of 48Hz for 24Hz sources, but that would likely produce unacceptable flicker.) Without interpolation, or with interpolation disengaged, a 120Hz set should not produce the soap opera effect. As to motion smoothness without it, LCD sets are inherently poorer at motion than plasmas, but I have not found this to be an issue on most modern designs, including this one. But others may well be more sensitive to, or annoyed by, motion lag than I am.

Anakinskye: I assume you meant that the Movie (THX) mode was used in your comparison of the Elite and Panasonic. But unlike many sets, the optimum position of the Sharpness control on the Elite is not zero, but -10—the centered position. At the zero setting, the resolution is severely degraded. Either the dealer has gaps in his knowledge on how to set up the Elite optimally, or the Elite's Sharpness control was set to zero to help sell the cheaper Panasonic against it.

You might want to go back and re-do the comparison, assuming the dealer is willing to do an exchange should you change your mind. If not, I wouldn't be too alarmed. The VT is really an excellent set, and will be superior to the Elite on fast motion (see above) and in off axis viewing. In all other respects, I feel it's no contest. Of course, considering the price difference, that should be expected.

You also can't judge comparative color in a showroom, since both sets may be off enough in their factory settings to make such a comparison moot. Nor can you compare black levels unless the controls are optimally set on both sets and the room is very dimly lit--or better yet completely dark. If it sounds like I'm saying that you can't pick a TV based on a typical showroom demonstration, you're reading me correctly. Sad, but true.

The settings I settled on during the review should have been posted with the review, but because we wanted to get the review on-line ASAP, they haven't been. But they will be.

All: Two weeks after turning in the review I'm still as impressed as ever by the Elite, and even more so by its 3D performance, which is the best I've yet seen, bar none. That includes IMAX 3D, though of course the latter offers superior impact from its big screen.

theo's picture

Tom, as always, you are the best. I didn't know that and I always *assumed* that if a set was running at 120 or 240 then it had some sort of frame interpolation engaged. So my older 60hz TV will have more motion blur than a newer set running at 120 or 240. Good to know! Great review as always. You have many of us who appreciate your reviews and thorough approach.

cbono's picture


I'd be grateful for additional critical comments on how the Elite handles SD content - SD special features as typically found on BDs, DVD content and SD cable/sat TV. How easy is it for the Elite to switch aspect ratios, zoom and stretch to view SD content without geometric distortion or loss of image? How does the Elite's SD performance stack up against the Kuro and/or other top quality plasmas?

Thanks for the great review!

ThePolice26's picture

Interesting...looks like the Kuro was actually displaying the correct green tint in Thor not the Elite.

Dwellon's picture

That's what I gathered from the review since there is a known issue with the way the Elite's currently handle cyan.

baddgsx's picture

For this kinda of money a smarter buy is a panasonic vx-300. 25 footlambs? thats it? that is way to low for my taste. a kuro can get 35-40 footlambs with a .001 black level.

anakinskye's picture

Went back to Abt and changed the sharpness on the Elite to -10. Worse, as I expected. I don't know what you are seeing but I see a VERY overpriced tv that looks worse than it measures. I had the manager and the tech that setup the tv with the Spears and Munsil disc there and they both agreed they preferred the Panasonic, no contest. 100% happy with my choice. BTW, your settings for the VT are an outstanding starting point.

Thomas J. Norton's picture
Baddgsx: Please re-read the review. The Elite can generate FAR more brightness than 25 ft-L if you want to push it to the max, and far more than any plasma we've ever tested. That's why it can produce the brightest 3D images we've ever seen. I chose to use 25-30 ft-L as a reference level for setup because that's the brightness level I find satisfying and comfortable for 2D movie watching in a dimly lit or darkened room. It also matches the level I was able to comfortably achieve with 3D, making the 2D-to3D transition about equal in brightness. It also matches the setup brightness level on my 60" Kuro. That particular Kuro will not reach 40 ft-L in Pure mode without white clipping. Anakinskye: Without standing next to you in the store, or your seeing my comparison, it's impossible to know what you're seeing. I do know that on our sample the middle setting of the Sharpness control produces an impeccably detailed yet not overly enhanced image on both real sources and on test patterns. Go one step higher to -9, however, and edge enhancement pops up dramatically. It's possible that the optimum point may vary by a step or two with different samples. Our sample was received for review around the third week in October.

The Elite is certainly an expensive set, but whether or not it's overpriced is in the eye of the beholder. Because Sharp makes much less expensive sets as well, many buyers cannot divorce that fact from the high price of the Elites. Some people feel the same way about the Toyota/Lexus connection. I did mark the Elite down for value, and have a suspicion that it or similarly designed sets may come down in price over time.

My high opinion of the Elite is not based on its measurements alone, but on many hours of watching real world material as well. My standard is that good measurements alone are a necessary result for a Top Pick, but this must be supported by a great viewing experience with real sources. I spend far more review time watching typical program material than I do in performing the measurements.

As to the set's performance with SD material, Cbono, I have watched some SD sources, and the set does as well as might be expected in that regard, but I will do more and report the results here, time permitting.

MatthewWeflen's picture

Tom, great review, answers all questions I would have were I in the market for such a set.

In re: pricing, do you have any inkling whether a second generation of these sets would see a corresponding reduction in price (say 20-30%) given the presumed ability to ramp up higher yield production of gen-10 panels, and the inevitable "failure" of this product to achieve significant market penetration based on the current prices? Will we see these features trickle down to the lower priced Sharp sets, while a new "Elite" will maintain the pricing and be a test bed for some newer tech?

As I say, I'm not really in the market. I've got a 2010 set that I hope can last me a decade, nor do I have $6-$8k to blow. But I'm curious what you think the evolution of the market segment will be in the next 5 years.

Davidicus's picture


I know you are hip to AC Chords and power conditioners but since you didn't mention anything about the improvement in the dimensionality of the Pioneer Kuro Elites when using them I thought I would mention that the only criticism I've had of both my Pioneer Kuro Elites, 60 & 50 inch, is when I observed in a large Best Buy the slight bit of better 3 dimensionality in the very top Samsungs compared to my sets. I might add that this was before the Sharps obtained the Elite designation and just a smidgen before the Panasonic Plasmas got real good-around the time the Pioneer 151 Kuro Elite came out and shortly after Pioneer announced their departure. Then only the Samsung "popped" with that little extra 3D look while viewing 2D video.

I was late using power conditioning and great AC cables on my 151 and top Pioneer Blu-ray but when I added the Transparent MM2 Power Chords to both and the P.S. Audio Power Plant Premier in the Multi Mode all of the dimensionality I could want or have seen on other sets suddenly appeared. The picture now is sooo seductive that I for the first time ever could be just as happy viewing a regular DVD as a Blu-ray. The difference is not small and it involves a quantum improvement in 3 dimensionality while viewing 2D discs of any kind.

Fond regards,


notabadname's picture

"Elite provided the best 3D performance I’ve yet seen, bar none—either at home or in the theater."

Thomas J. Norton's picture
Better off-axis performance-for both 2D and 3D.
maj0crk's picture

LCDs have always been energy savers compared to plasmas, though that gap seem to be narrowing.
Was there a direct corrolation to the amount of power consumed by a Kuro to it's outstanding performance? As a comparision, did a 50" Kuro use more energy than a Pioneer's non-Elite 50-incher? If so, how was that energy used to drive the Kuro to levels not equaled by plasma manufacturers today?

jnemesh's picture

I dont care HOW great this TV is, its still not going to make "Green Lantern" a watchable movie! :)

Scott Wilkinson's picture
I haven't watched the Green Lantern, but from what I hear, it's terrible. I intend to see if there are any demo-worthy scenes in it, though most of it is CGI, which usually looks great on just about any display.
AVtheaterguy's picture


Are you going to post your recommended settings for this display?

If you already have can you point me in the right direction where I can find those?



Boulder_Bum's picture

Just to clarify, are you saying you think the Sharp Elite has slightly better picture quality than the Kuro? That's the way I'm reading it, but someone else thinks you gave the Sharp the crown (by a nose) for different reasons, e.g. 3D capabilities.

Thomas J. Norton's picture
Some previous questions above still need to be answered. For starters, the Elite performed well with standard definition material. I had no complaints, at least apart from the usual loss of resolution compared to HD. But on this size screen my DVDs were still highly watchable. Cable was another matter, but the fact that a lot of SD cable material had annoying jaggy artifacts cannot be blamed on the set, since this was not true of DVDs. Nor is it likely to be the same on all cable systems. The results I see on my cable service will not be the same as you see on yours, which is why I do not consider SD cable a reliable test source for judging picture quality. Cable services are using more and more compression to provide more and more largely useless SD cable channels.

As to the settings used in the review, they have been turned in for posting and should appear with the review shortly.

If there was some ambiguity as to which set I preferred, that was largely intentional. They have different strengths and weaknesses. The Kuro excels in off-axis performance and overall had slightly superior blacks, though the latter is a very close call. The Sharp Elite was subtly, um, sharper. It could also go significantly brighter then the Kuro plasma if you feel the need, and it has the best 3D performance I've yet seen (while the Kuro, of course, has none).

As for their relative power consumption, I'll shortly be posting a blog with that information. Stay tuned!

Boulder_Bum's picture

Thanks for the clarification. I see some of the advantages of each set.

However, I'm still unclear on one point. If you'll indulge me and the rest of your readers (pretty please!): of the Kuro and Sharp Elite, which do you feel has the better 2D image quality when viewing on-angle?

steve1971's picture

Tom I respect and love all your reviews heck I even use your settings you did on the Sony KDL 40V5100 on my 46inch version BUT I have to disagree on your statement that the new Sharp Elite's are better then the legendary Pioneer Kuro Elite's. Sharp dont come close and I feel you only said Sharp was better because of the 3D factor which to me is all hype, I could be wrong. My freind has a Kuro Elite and it blows any HDTV that I have yet seen out of the water and that includes the new Sharp models. I wont call them Elite because in my book there is only one Elite and that was the Pioneer Kuro. Like I said Tom I have nothing but respect for you and I love the reviews you do but this one I cant agree on.

Robert Zohn's picture

Tom, very accurate and honest review. Very much validates what we found at our shoot-out event. I brought my personal 141FD that was just perfectly calibrated to the shoot-out so we could have a reference point.

Thanks for the very well done and detailed review!


Jeff_4833's picture

Tom, in your excellent review you mention:

"The sound from a Blu-ray player passed through an Onkyo TX-SR608 A/V receiver required me to dial in a bit more lip-sync delay than usual, but that won’t be an issue as long as your AVR has a variable audio delay, as most do. There was no delay when I listened to the set’s internal audio."

I am considering the Elite 70" along with the Elite SC-57 receiver and probably an Oppo disc player, but in looking through the SC-57's manual I don't see any option for "variable audio delay." If this function is something that apparently is needed, it seems odd that the Elite's "matching" receiver doesn't provide it. Or, am I missing seeing that it does have it?

Could you educate me a bit, especially if the Elite SC-57 receiver might leave me wanting (I hate poor lip sync.)


notabadname's picture

My parents have a 60" Kuro, which truly has a stunning picture. I myself thought nothing could match it. But I finally just saw the Sharp Elite in a darkened room demo. Wow. It's blacks are stunning. And that is all the demo focused on: pitch black environments with fireworks, city skylines at night, an intricately detailed golden statue against pitch black and finally a night carnival scene with plenty of isolated points of light against black. All truly stunning, crystal clear and with no blooms of LED zones to be found. If I had my parents Kuro, I would trade it for this screen in a heartbeat. How someone could say the Elite doesn't come close is a mystery. And in my opinion, the image actually bests the Kuro. Certainly it's equal. If you get a chance, find one of this and see for yourself.

I personally don't think there is a better screen available on the market today. I SO want one now.

BabeRuth3's picture

I have had my Elite Pro for approximately two months, and no matter what color calibrations I try, my reds look more like a "candy apple " red, bleeding into a magenta range. Has anyone experienced this problem on this set, and does anyone have calibration settings that they can recommend for Standard , and/or Dynamic modes?

kent harrison's picture

Tryed game mode or get it professional to do it or calibrated.