Sharp Pictures from Thin Screen
by Jim Bray
Want a flat, thin TV but cant afford a plasma?
Sharp may have just the thing for you, though its expensive
enough that you could end up thinking plasmas the way to go after
Its the Aquos line of liquid crystal display (LCD)
television, a high end line of TVs that offers an excellent picture in a
unit thats small and light compared with conventional televisions.
I had a chance to play with one of these sets for a short time
(too short, alas, since I was really enjoying it) and, though the remote
control was missing and I therefore couldnt work it as well, or at least
as easily, as Id have liked, I was mightily impressed with the set's
It was the model CC20B2U, a handsome 20 inch set that,
unfortunately, was in the eventually-to-be-obsolete 4x3 aspect ratio rather
than the more future-friendly 16x9 shape. I could live with that, of course,
but I think anyone these days looking to spend a couple of grand on a TV would
be doing himself a disservice by not going widescreen when TV broadcasts and
DVDs are all going that way, albeit slowy but surely.
Anyway, this particular Aquos is a handsome panel, slim enough to
stand just about anywhere and mounted on a futuristic-looking stand that looks
like something out of Star Trek - and that also doubles as a carrying handle.
It's small enough to go just about anywhere; one of the places I tried it was
in my bedroom (life is tough, eh?) and the 20 inch Aquos took up less space
than the 13 inch CRT television I usually have there. The picture also blew my
normal (admittedly very cheap) TV away.
You can imagine how much I enjoyed packing the Aquos back up to
send it away when my review period was over...
The silver cabinet includes side-mounted two way speakers that
pump out pretty good sound for a garden variety television. The
audio is helped by a bottom-mounted subwoofer that gives what Sharp calls
2.1 channel audio.
Sharp's AQUOS TV's use what the company calls
state-of-the-art ASV (Advanced Super View) panels featuring Ultra-High
Aperture TFT (UHA TFT), Sharps proprietary LCD panel technology.
This is supposed to deliver extremely wide viewing angles (170 degrees) and an
exceptionally high, 500:1contrast ratio; it does, too, for the most part,
though it's still an LCD and therefore not up to the black level standards
available from a top line CRT.
Still, the picture is excellent at this size; I don't think an
LCD really works for really big screens, but this 20 incher (which is less than
3 inches deep) would look mighty nice back in my bedroom or as a kitchen
Resolution is claimed to be 640x480 (921,000 pixels) and (besides
its 181 channel MTS stereo tuner) the TV will handle NTSC/PAL-N/PAL-M Video
System - NTSC 3.58 & 4.43/PAL/SECAM signals, which means it'll work pretty
well everywhere in the world (it's also AC/DC) though the extra capability will
probably be wasted on most users and it also adds to the already quite hefty
price of approximately $2000US.
The Aquos also includes enough inputs and outputs to choke a
horse. You get the usual cable input as well as a component video input, 2
composite video inputs, and an S-Video input as well as a composite video
output and both fixed and variable audio outputs and a headphone output. Most
of these connectors are hidden out of the way behind little panels on the back
of the TV, making for a nice and clean look.
LCD monitors are really starting to take hold in the computer
world, but have so far not made much of a splash in the home theater world.
Sharp thinks its Aquos line is primed to change that, and it just may be
but I think they need to work on the price point to make them more attractive
to a mainstream audience.
As mentioned above, I'd also recommend anyone looking for a
reasonably high end TV these days (regardless of its brand) to pursue the 16x9
aspect ratio, which will last them a lot longer over the years.
Fortunately, Sharp also makes a couple of Aquos models in the
widescreen configuration as well.
Hope they send one of them next!
Jim Bray's technology columns are distributed by the TechnoFILE and Mochila Syndicates. Copyright Jim Bray.
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