Sharp LCD TV Review LC-37G4U 37" Flat Panel LCD TV

 

 

Model: Sharp LC-37G4U
Description: 37" LCD Television, Widescreen 16:9 Format
Resolution: 1366 x 768 (WXGA)
Includes: Integrated pedestal stand with detachable 20W 2-speaker audio
system, and separate set-top box with dual NTSC tuner with "learning" remote
Color: Matte silver casing with black framing element around screen and matte silver set-top box
Reviewer: William Becker

INTRODUCTION


The Sharp LC-37G4U 37-inch LCD TV impressed with its size-to-brightness ratio, as well as its well-appointed set-top NTSC tuner box with latest and greatest in inputs: DVI and HDMI. This Sharp LCD TV doubles as a computer monitor, and comes with ample-sounding detachable speakers that pump out 10W apiece. With excellent image scaling and processing, this LCD display is sure to wow even the most die-hard videophile.

The Sharp LC-37G4U 37-inch LCD TV is designed by Toshiyuki Kita, an internationally renowned product designer, and manufactured in Sharp's brand-new, state-of-the-art LCD glass factory in Kameyama, Japan, which came online in January 2004. This 4th-generation LCD display features Sharp's new Quick Shoot video circuit, which is said to achieve sub 16ms response times -- among the fastest in the industry -- and minimize motion lag in fast-moving scenes. The LC-37G4U LCD television also utilizes Sharp's proprietary Advanced View/Black TFT Panel with anti-glare coating for increased brightness levels and viewing angles. Sharp has also worked to expand the viewing angles on its next-generation LCD TVs by tightening up the pixel pitch (i.e., the space separating the red, green, and blue sub-pixels in a pixel) on its LCD screens.

Sharp LCD TV Review

The Sharp LC-37G4U LCD TV

PICTURE: 92/100

The black levels on Sharp's LC-37G4U LCD television were surprisingly good for an LCD display, particularly one of this size. At 37 inches, this Sharp LCD display is fairly sizeable, certainly large enough to be the principal display in a home theater environment. The problem is, the larger LCDs get, the lighter their overall brightness levels and contrast ratios get. And so it is with the Sharp LC-37G4U LCD TV: Its brightness levels simply could not match up to those of a well-made plasma unit, though, in general, the Sharp's black levels were above-average for an LCD TV -- probably the best we've seen from an LCD display, in fact. One might not notice any particular deficiency in the LC-37G4U's blacks unless one were watching the very same material side-by-side on a plasma display (which we did in the Panasonic Plasma vs. Sharp LCD TV Review).

Sharp does a couple smart things to enhance the black levels on its LC-37G4U display. First, they include a first-rate anti-glare/darkness-enhancing coating on the LCD screen to counter excessive light emissions, which tend to dull blacks on the screen. Second, Sharp enables the user to adjust the intensity of the backlight powering his or her unit. Since LCD technology operates by blocking, rather than reflecting or emitting, light, being able to manipulate the amount of light that has to be blocked by the liquid crystals greatly enhances one's prospects of obtaining really good black levels from this unit.

As for the coloration on the LC-37G4U LCD monitor, we were generally pleased with it, despite the fact that the display's white balance leans toward pink, lending warmth to flesh tones. Such tendencies bother some people. Fortunately, this Sharp LCD TV's TINT function can be adjusted. With the TINT bumped up to 4 (on a scale from -30 [red] to 30 [green]) and the COLOR set at -2, the Sharp LC-37G4U was very acceptable in color performance.

For those people who obsess over coloration, the Sharp LC-37G4U includes its own C.M.S (Color Management System), which can be accessed by selecting ADVANCED under the PICTURE menu. This takes the user into a screen where he or she can adjust the hue, saturation, and value of the unit's reds, yellows, greens, cyans, blues, and magentas.

As far as viewing angles are concerned, the Sharp LC-37G4U LCD television dimmed considerably when we sat about 60° or 65° off its central viewing axis. It did the same thing when tested vertically. Count on watching TV within the 120° to 130° viewing arc extending in either direction from the center of this LCD screen. Any further out, and one is likely to be watching an unpleasantly degraded picture.

When it came to displaying a non-native resolution like 480p at its native resolution of 720p, the Sharp did not miss a beat. The opening scene of Veronica Guerin, where the camera floats over Dublin's port as a shipment of heroin comes in from sea, literally shone with detailing. This was also evident in the characters' faces throughout the movie. This tells suggests that the Sharp LC-37G4U has excellent scaling technology.

This LCD television did a great job "fitting" a 480p signal to its 720p native resolution. It also performed well with 480i broadcast signals, which it upconverted to 720p. Of course, the Sharp LC-37G4U LCD television performed spectacularly with HDTV signals. We forced ourselves to watch The Young and the Restless (CBS) to determine that much, and we must admit we were blown away by how obvious the makeup looked at 720p.

The Sharp LC-37G4U LCD display did not suffer much in the way of false contouring, pixelation, or ghosting. We were especially pleased by the Sharp LCD TV's handling of our Ultimate DVD test disc and its tortuous Rodeo Clown sequence. Even with the unpredictable bucks and head thrusts of a raging bull, the Sharp kept its cool, depicting no ghosting or pixelation that we could see. Finally, the Sharp LC-37G4U LCD TV displayed the race scenes from Seabiscuit true, with no noticeable pixelation around the horses' galloping legs. There must be something to Sharp's Quick Shoot circuitry, because when we watched the same material with it turned off, we found there was some obvious motion lag on the screen, especially in the rodeo sequences.

The only thing we noticed with respect to the Sharp's handling of action scenes was an ever-so-slight fuzziness that appeared as the scenes changed repeatedly. This will hardly be distracting to the average viewer, though real video sticklers will notice this -- and probably complain about it, as sticklers are wont to do.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS: 95/100

The Sharp LCD television ran whisper-quiet, even though it has two recessed fans on its back panel. Much of this quiet operation no doubt has to do with the minimal amount of power necessary to operate this unit. When a display requires such a paltry amount of electricity, chances are, you won't be able to hear it from even a foot away -- much less the six to eight feet of viewing distance recommended for a display of this size.

The considerable brightness of the Sharp LCD television convinced us of its fitness for daytime viewing. This LCD TV is ideal for situations where ambient light is a concern. The Sharp's high brightness and excellent anti-glare shielding work to fend off contrast dulling ambient light.

Sharp AQUOS LCD TV

The Sharp LC-G4U is ultra-svelte, just 3.5 inches deep with its speakers attached. These speakers have a bit of heft to them as well as a hint of curvature, which proved a nice departure from the unnatural flatness of most integrated audio systems. Moreover, the speakers can be detached and placed on their own stands for a different look and perhaps to adjust the sound slightly. (Note: Sharp doesn't give you a whole lot of speaker wire to work with, so you'll have to dream on a slightly restricted scale when it comes to situating these speakers.) We chose to attach the speakers to the LCD display itself, and have to admit this was something of a chore. Trying to thread the screws into the back of the unit was trying, especially since the threaded area of the receptacle hole on the back of the unit was set down so as to be almost invisible to the eye.

And then there was the matter of the speakers' actual connections, which were the thread type rather than the pre-terminated, RCA-input type. Which gave us pause to wonder: Why wouldn't Sharp just have utilized the usual RCA-type input for these speakers? Perhaps they didn't expect people to use them much; or maybe it had to do with the fact that the speakers were made in Indonesia rather than in Japan like the rest of the unit. Whatever the rationale, such an oversight proved disappointing in a display of this caliber. It surely results in some lost audio quality from these otherwise good-sounding 10W speakers, which are capable of putting out 20W total sound.

The Sharp has all rear-facing inputs, in considerable quantities: 2 component video inputs, 3 composite video inputs, an S-video input, a DVI input, an HDMI interface, 3 RCA-type audio inputs, and a PC audio input. You can utilize your new LCD display as a computer monitor by connecting your PC using the DVI connection, and Sharp even includes a mini stereo plug to route your PC's audio through the Sharp's speakers. The LC-37G4U is also equipped with a Memory Card slot. The set-top box itself runs quietly, and it comes with a stand, which, when attached, situates the tuner box in a vertical position.

The remote included with this unit was made in China and seemed unusually long, though functional nonetheless. This is a universal-type remote, which is backlit and has a special hinged panel at its base that covers the buttons for making more obscure A/V adjustments (e.g., TWIN PICTURE, FREEZE FRAME, CLOSED CAPTIONING, SLEEP, etc.). We figured this was a handy way of getting certain superfluous -- or less-frequently utilized -- buttons off the remote proper.

VALUE: 88/100

In the end, the Sharp LC-37G4U LCD TV would have scored higher in the Value category were it not for a couple things. One, Sharp does not include an ATSC or high-definition tuner in its otherwise thoughtfully-equipped set-top box. Two, this 37-inch flat panel display comes with a hefty price tag. You can find on it on the "street" for around $4000, considerably less than its MSRP of $5,999. Still, that's quite a bit of money to pay for a display of this size, though not especially pricey for an LCD display of this size. The problem is, you can find a comparable plasma screen display for substantially less.

The good news is that, while it requires a fairly substantial up-front investment, this TV that will serve you for years to come. Sharp claims that the LC-37G4U's bulb has a 60,000-hour lifespan (provided BACKLIGHT is set at "standard" or 0 on a scale from -8 to 8). However, the actual effective life of the florescent backlight in this LCD television will be about 30,000 hours. The 30,000-hour discrepancy occurs because of the bulb's inability to maintain the same brightness over time, which alters and dims the white balance of the display.

Sharp claims that for about $270, the cost of a replacement bulb, the Sharp LCD TV can be returned to "like-new" performance levels with a simple bulb change out. ( Sharp further states that this bulb replacement can be done by the user without technical assistance -- a really money saver. Thus one can re-vamp one's investment ad nauseam. That is certainly something to cheer about, as if the Sharp LC-37G4U didn't give us enough performance-wise.

OVERALL RATING (with picture double-weighted): 91.5/100





Plasma Links