Sharp LC-46X20E review

Sharp's latest LCD proves to be merely fair-to-middling when held up to the class-leaders Tested at £1150.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

It’s not actually a bad TV, but the Sharp falls short of the standards set by the best in its class


  • +

    Slim design

  • +

    bright scenes are fairly detailed

  • +

    vibrant colours

  • +

    good sound for a flatscreen


  • -

    Poor usability

  • -

    little black insight

  • -

    lack of solidity to motion

  • -

    Freeview suffers from instability

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

You could be forgiven for considering returning this Sharp to the shop within the first half-hour of unboxing it.

After all, it's not very pretty to look at, the initial settings are overblown, the menus are ugly and get in the way when you try to calibrate the picture, and the manual is the size of an encyclopaedia.

Yup, if this was a date you'd be starting to wonder if you could fit out of the bathroom window. But give it a chance and although the LC-46X20E is unlikely to provide a red-hot romance, it might prove to be a steady, if unexciting partner.

Looks best with bright scenes
The Sharp does its best work with bright scenes. Playing the Blu-ray of The Fall, it does a fine job of recreating the outlandish outfits of our heroes as they languish on their desert island.

The picture's decently punchy and vibrant, and detail, though not earth-shattering, is quite reasonable.

The problem comes when darkness or subtlety is required. The scenes in the gloomy hospital are short of insight, while the vibrant colour palette proves a poor reproducer of realistic skin tones.

Blu-ray motion isn't handled too well, either, with images moving smoothly, but without astounding solidity.

Motion impresses more on DVD
DVDs fair better, with sharper moving edges and greater control over smear. However, blacks are still rather all-consuming, and although entirely bright scenes are punchy, the introduction of any shadow restricts the contrast and results in a rather dull picture overall.

Perhaps surprisingly, the Freeview tuner is a little more exciting, but it also suffers from more instability than rival sets, with a slow pan over London on BBC News 24 suffering with an unsightly degree of shimmer.

Where we can be complimentary is with audio. The Sharp is balanced and communicative in standard stereo, while the surround mode increases openness while maintaining directness of speech.

Of course, you'd be very unwise to choose your new flatscreen on the basis of how it sounds, and many rivals we've tested deliver a better picture

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

Read more about how we test