Sharp LCD TV Review
Sharp Aquos LC-225V6U
22 1/64" LCD TV, Widescreen 16:9 Format
854 x 480
Liquid crystal display (LCD) technology has been utilized since the 1970s in calculators, and in recent years has been used more and more in computer screens and television sets. In a nutshell, it works like this: When an electrical charge is applied to cells full of light-polarizing liquid crystals, the orientation of those crystals changes, which controls the amount (or intensity) of filtered light passing through those cells at a given time. These cells are backlit by small florescent light bulbs.
LCD monitors have good picture quality and are very space-efficient, but they are not without certain drawbacks. First, displaying deep blacks is a problem that persists even today, and the viewing angles are narrower for LCDs than they are for flat screen CRT or Plasma technologies. Second, the rate at which the picture refreshes has, historically, been slower for LCDs than for CRT or Plasma monitors. So pixelation (a k a "motion artifacts") in larger LCD screens can be a problem, as it can with competing technologies as well. Despite these drawbacks, recent years have seen great improvements in all aspects of LCD crystal and glass technology, and a decent-quality LCD screen is a great alternative to either its CRT or Plasma counterpart-especially in the smaller 13" to 26" range.
The 22 1/64" (diagonal) LC-225V6U is one of the Aquos line of direct-view LCD TVs by Sharp. This set is equipped with Sharp's proprietary "Advanced Super View" anti-reflective panel, which all but eliminates the need for carefully controlling the conditions under which you view it. (This means you can watch television in the same room with someone who's reading or doing a crossword puzzle-backlighting is no problem with Sharp's new Aquos line.)
PICTURE QUALITY - 93
The Aquos line includes many high-quality LCD products, and the Sharp LC-225V6U is no exception. We tested the LCD television with the Spiderman DVD (Columbia/Tri-Star). Not only was the picture crystal clear, but the color was reproduced with vivid brilliancy as well. The bright uniforms and flashy cityscapes looked as if we were watching them through a very clean window. We noticed a tendency for the color to appear slightly warm (more red) in some scenes, so we recommend changing the COLOR TEMP option to "High" (on this set, more blue) to balance it out. At this setting, the skin tones are more realistically displayed.
The set comes with four brightness settings: NORMAL, DARK, AUTO, and BRIGHT. The proper setting here depends on the amount of light in the room; with the AUTO setting this Sharp LCD TV will adjust itself accordingly. We watched Spiderman on NORMAL in our fairly well lit showroom and did not notice any problems. Despite the difficulty of getting deep black with LCD technology, this set's black level was better than average and was entirely adequate.
Larger size LCD TVs can have noticeable motion artifacts, but at this size, the set is almost entirely free from distracting picture problems. And unlike CRTs, the color can be vivid without being overly bright-all of which makes for a much more viewer-friendly picture. Not only that, but most of the high-quality CRT sets (and all Plasma sets) are in larger size ranges. A crystal-clear 22" screen doesn't come along every day.
There is an advanced menu option for AV MODE, offering custom tweaks for such things as sports and games. As this can interfere with the viewer's custom settings (discussed next), we recommend that you use the STANDARD option.
The factory picture needed only slight adjustments to maximize picture quality. Our preferred settings, on a scale of -30 to 30, were: black level - 0; color - (-2); sharpness - (-15); tint - (-11). As for the picture, we preferred it set at 30 (on a 0-60 scale).
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS: 91
The unit has two 5W speakers, which is about average for a television of this size. In our large showroom we had no complaints with the volume around 20/60.
The picture size settings (or "VIEW MODE" options) were SIDE BAR, SMART STRETCH, STRETCH, and ZOOM. The aptly named SIDE BAR shows a full 4:3 picture with bars on the side. SMART STRETCH uniformly enlarges a picture, stretching 4:3 programs to fill the wide screen but cutting off small parts on the edges. STRETCH non-uniformly enlarges a 4:3 picture and cuts edges off, so we don't recommend it except for widescreen DVDs (with a ratio of 1.85:1 or more). Finally ZOOM enlarges uniformly, slightly chopping off edges, but is good for viewing widescreen DVDs with the full screen, and it doesn't zoom enough to degrade picture quality significantly. We watched Spiderman in SMART STRETCH and were pleased with the natural looking characters showing no visible "stretching." For watching television in 4:3, SIDE BAR does not cut off any of the picture. SMART STRETCH handles widescreen inputs well. Moreover, with 4:3 inputs we saw that some small print in commercials was cut off-a not entirely unpleasant effect.
The remote control has several buttons leading directly to control settings, which means the viewer does not have to scroll through several layers in the central menu options-a very convenient feature. Among the features that can be adjusted straight from the remote are brightness, AV MODE, VIEW MODE, and VIRTUAL DOLBY SURROUND settings. All are clearly labeled to avoid confusion. There is also a handy SLEEP MODE with 30-, 60-, 90-, and 120-minute options, so you can fall asleep watching TV without leaving the set on all night.
One of the benefits of the LC-225V6U is that Sharp's new Aquos designs are remarkably thin and light. The total weight of the set is only 22 pounds. The dimensions of the unit are 22 29/32" total width by 20 5/64" total height. The stand is 9 27/32" deep, and the body is 2 31/32" deep (4 21/64" with the handle on the back). This compact set will fit almost anywhere in your home, condo, office, store, or waiting room. The silver exterior has a high-tech feel even before the picture is turned on. The speakers are located under the screen, which allows the set to fit into tighter spaces than speakers on the sides would. This unit does not function as a computer monitor. Which is unfortunate, because, although it is larger than a typical monitor, it could still fit nicely on a desk-and display a heck of a lot of data in the process.
The LC-225V6U has a top quality picture, easy-to-reach options, and compact frame. The MSRP is $1999, though the street price should be considerably less (around $1500). For your money, this is a very solid purchase. Sharp is one of the most reputable companies for LCD TVs-it makes something like 70% of all LCD units sold in the US-and dollar-for-dollar handles extremely well next to the competition. This set is a fine example.
OVERALL: 92.25 (picture double weighted)