Frankenfight: Cheap, 32-inch HD LCDs

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This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.

LCDs have plummeted in price over the last year, so much so, that if you are willing to sacrifice a bit of quality and maybe go generic, you can snag a 32-inch HD for under $1000, and often far less. But you aren't like the rest of the cheapos out there, grabbing the first bargain LCD you see. You are a cheap aficionado who wants the absolute best...for whatever pittance you are willing to pay.

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We took PCMag's and CNET's top four rated LCDs in the price range (by Westinghouse, Vizio, Viewsonic and Sharp) and let them duke it out battle royal style in the Frankenreview.

This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.
This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.
This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.
This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.


Design
Winner: Sharp
"Sharp dropped the silver coloring..."
"I took a moment to admire the display's all-black styling, which features a gloss-finished bezel inset within a matte-finished frame..."
"...the oversized power button would be easy to locate and operate with your eyes closed."


Inputs
Winner: Sharp
"...including two HDMI ports, two component-video connections, and a single RF input that feeds the TV's analog (NTSC), digital (ATSC), and Clear QAM (unencrypted digital cable) tuners."
"...the biggest omission is a dedicated PC input...no mention of using one of the HDMI inputs with PC sources, although dedicated users can probably find a way."

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This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.
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Features
Winner: Vizio
"... boasts a versatile picture-in-picture control. One option lets you view standard-def—but not high-def—inputs in a smaller window while using the PC input for the main screen.
"There are four aspect-ratio modes available for both HD and standard-def sources."

Display

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This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.
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Winner: Sharp
"...summed up with one word, wow."
"...Sharp was able to coax a relatively deep color of black compared to other LCDs we've reviewed recently."
"...has superior representation of color and dark detail."
"Color tracking was admirably linear too compared with the Westinghouse and ViewSonic 32-inch models."
"its less-saturated color was visible...reds are too garish in comparison with other colors."
"...picture was almost perfectly calibrated right out of the box."

Overall Winner: Sharp

This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.
This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.
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We were surprised that the Sharp's black levels and contrast ratios held up to TVs far more expensive than those compared here. So while the Sharp may be the most expensive in the competition, it not only looks to be a good TV for under $1,000, but a decent TV in general.

Runner Up: Vizio
For $250 less than the Sharp, you get a PC-input and a decent display save for some color temperature problems...just utilize HDMI and avoid component inputs. If you are sub $700 cheap, we can forgive you for choosing the Vizio.

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Sharp LC-32D40U Specs:
LCD TV
TFT active matrix
Image aspect ratio - 16:9
Series: Aquos
Width: 32.3 in
Depth: 10.7 in
Height: 25.6 in
Weight: 43 lbs

Video System
Resolution: 1366 x 768
Image contrast ratio - 1200:1
Viewing angle: 176 degrees
Brightness: 450

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Television Features
Backlight life: 60,000 hour(s)

Connections / Cables / Slots
Input/Output connections: 2 x HD component input (RCA phono x 3), 2 x HDMI (19 pin HDMI Type A), 1 x S-Video input (4 pin mini-DIN), Audio line-in, 3 x Composite video input (RCA phono)

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CNET Westinghouse
CNET Vizio
CNET ViewSonic
CNET Sharp
CNET Sharp 2
PCMag Westinghouse
PCMag Vizio
PCMag ViewSonic
PCMag Sharp

DISCUSSION

anarchyonline-old
AnarchyOnline

I've had a Sharp Aquos 32D40U that i paid a little over 1k two months ago.

This Sharp model has a good angle viewing.

I use this TV mainly for computer cloned display and PS3 gaming. All my movies come from the computer...that's my setup.

The 32D40U does not have any PC input. So you have to use a DVI-to-HDMI converter to hook your PC in.

The 32D40U does 720p/1080i. Like most computer to 16:9 TV setup (DVI to HDMI), will end up with an overscan issue (you won't see your windows taskbar).

An Overscan means that the screen will be bigger than normal and you will miss maybe 5% all around the edges.

In order to eliminate the overscan you must underscan (lowering the resolution signal). To better understand OVerscan and Underscan you can google :"DVI HDMI Overscan underscan"

If your computer has an ATI graphic card, The Catalyst Control 6.11 will allow you to underscan by choosing 1776x1000 and from there you can modify that given resolution to something custom (mine is 1824x1028). You do not need install Powerstrip anymore.

If you have an NVIDIA card, you can also underscan. Unfortunately, the latest NVIDIA drivers have a serious video issue. NVIDIA does not scale videos (AVI, MPG, WMV) on 16:9 properly and you will endup with vertical streched video until they fix it. Solution: get an ATI card until NVIDIA fix their drivers.

In other words, you can use this 32D40U as secondary cloned display after you change the setting in your video driver (ATI Catalyst or NVIDIA). The screen seem to flicker a little bit. It is not as crystal clear as the computer LCD monitor is. But texts are perfectly readable at 1776x1000 on this TV.

For gaming this TV does a good job too, i don't see any ghosting and i tested it with a PS3. Only beware that this TV is a 1080i not 1080p (1080p are true HDTV) this TV is not. Some PS3 games are 1080p.

Turning on this TV can produce a strange "hummmm" electrical noise if your backlite option is set too low.

To stop the "hummmmm" noise you have to increase the Backlite and set it to factory default or higher.

The 32D40U commes with an ugly remote control. The remote control is so ugly that even universal remote control made in the 90s look better.

Changing channels is slow. But atleast you can watch cable channels because there's a coaxial-input which allow you to receive analog cable signal and the TV tuner is built-in.

No picture in picture function though.

Sharp Customer service is not very good either. There is no tool free number to call. I called them regarding several known issues and Sharp always pretended not to be aware of any issues and will call you back when they find answers to your problem.