Sharp LC-52XS1 review

This LED-backlit TV from Sharp is extraordinarily expensive, but as a technology showcase it does much to impress Tested at £9000.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Elegant and very capable, this is a highly desirable TV that would sell at a lower price. However, at nine grand, it's up against some stiff competition


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    Superb clarity and contrast

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    clean, noiseless backgrounds

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    gorgeous design


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    It costs about five times as much as most same-sized competitors

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Yes, this TV really does cost £9000 – way more than any rival at its size. Sharp's not expecting to shift big numbers at that price, of course – think of this LED-backlit LCD as a technology showcase that you can actually buy, and you'd be about right.

As you'd expect, it's a work of art to behold, being both ultra-slim and beautifully made. Its key inputs and tuners are mounted in an external box – all the better to aid in wall-mounting the screen itself – and the set's Pioneer-developed loudspeaker system is housed in a neat pod underneath the screen.

LED backlighting allows for local dimming of the backlight in an LCD, improving contrast, and it also helps reduce the depth of a typical TV chassis.

But not all LED systems are the same, and the Sharp's RGB design allows for a far wider range of colours and contrasts than a regular, simpler set. In fact, Sharp claims it has a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio.

Exceptional picture and sound
In action, thanks to its unique RGB backlighting system, the Sharp has an incredibly broad colour palette, and its black levels are almost as good as the best plasmas.

That's bolstered by a clean and precise image, with little visible noise and terrific stability. It can be a little sensitive to motion-smearing with some content, but that's more a matter of optimising settings than any particular problems with the set itself.

Other than that, this is one of the finest pictures available. Even the sound has plenty of guts for one so slim.

That's enough to ensure the Sharp gets four stars. Were it cheaper (OK, much cheaper), it'd most certainly work its way up to a five-star verdict. But as a technology showcase for the future, there's much to admire here.

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