If the budget credentials of this cheap 26in set haven't become apparent as soon as you take the telly out of the box, they will when you turn it on.
You'll ask yourself if anyone put a moment's thought into the installation procedure – it certainly doesn't look like it. The menus are horribly blocky, and the system searches automatically for only analogue channels – annoyingly, you have to find the option for Freeview installation manually.
The 'D44E doesn't make calibration easy either, thanks to a badly thought-out menu system that prevents you seeing the changes your adjustments are making. We expect more thought to be put into these things, even at this price.
The initial set-up might make you a bit angry, but the picture performance will make you much happier. Meet the Spartans is a truly abhorrent film, but the DVD transfer is very good, and the Sharp produces a picture with well-defined edges and decent detail in light scenes.
This insight doesn't extend to the darkest areas of the picture, which actually appear a little murky. Still, the scaler does a great job of tailoring the DVD picture for the 1366 x 768 screen without introducing any noise or image break-up.
More after the break
Picture perfect, but sound is harshThe 720p pictures (the Sharp won't do 1080p) from our 3:10 to Yuma Blu-ray are also detailed and sharp. There's a touch of rosiness to the colour palette, which adds a pleasant warmth to the scenery, but also increases the redness in skin tones, so they're just a touch on the wrong side of natural. The overall disc performance is eminently watchable, though.
The same can also be said of the Freeview picture, which is clean and stable, even during motion. However, good comments can't be applied to the sound performance; it's harsh and badly lacking in depth, even by these standards.
Still, if the way your little television sounds isn't at the top of your priorities, the Sharp has a great deal to offer in terms of picture performance, especially given the bargain-basement price tag.