First impressions are all about looks. Sharp obviously knows this, as it has redesigned its Aquos line starting with the handsome D65 series. The 46-inch Sharp LC-46D65U LCD, which retails for $1,500, doesn’t disappoint. A reasonable price, energy-saving features, and superior picture quality all added up to a well-rounded entry-level TV.
Features and Design
For starters, the LC-46D65U has a very thin bezel, making it loom less in the living room than comparable sets like Panasonic’s current Viera plasmas, which we were able to compare the Sharp with side by side. Sharp chose to put the speakers along the bottom of the unit, reducing the overall width of the screen. The frame itself is a mixture of gloss and matte black, and has a nice boxy look. The unit is incredibly lightweight, at just a hair under 42 pounds (without the stand), so it’s easy for two people to move around. The included stand attaches using only eight screws, so we had our review unit set up in less than five minutes.
Sharp Aquos LC-46D65U Stand
What’s unique about the D65 series is that its TVs are especially efficient, with very low power consumption. According to Sharp, in fact, D65 sets are 20 percent more efficient than their predecessors. All three TVs in the series (a 52- and 42-inch model are also available) are Energy Star 3.0 compliant. This means that in addition to drawing less power when turned off, they are also more efficient when turned on, and in the default picture mode. When you are setting up your TV, you have to select the “Home” designation to get the benefits of the Energy Star certification. Additionally, an effective power-saving mode that enables active contrast and active backlight reduces the energy consumption of the TV as you watch it. To use this mode, engage it through the onscreen menu or simply by pushing the “Power Saving” button on the remote control. You can then choose from either standard power saving mode, or advanced. Standard basically judges your video content and adjusts the backlighting accordingly, while advanced uses a room lighting sensor (called Optical Picture Control, or OPC) to adjust the image. The sensor is located on the front bezel, and will automatically increase picture brightness where there is high ambient light, and reduce the backlight intensity in a darker room.
Inputs and Interface
While this TV is ideally positioned for the new breed of green-minded consumers, it also takes the demands of the high-def era in stride, with no less than five HDMI inputs. That’s very generous, and jibes with the TVs price point, in our opinion. If you are purchasing an entry-level set such as this, you very well might not own an AV receiver – in which case those extra HDMI inputs are a welcome addition to connect your gaming console, Blu-ray player, DirecTV DVR, etc. We certainly appreciated not having to connect it to a receiver to switch sources. Of course, there are a host of other ins and outs, including two component, RS-232C, and other more-or-less standard connectors.
Sharp Aquos LC-46D65U Inputs
While this is an entry-level flat-panel, it offers a surprising amount of user control. For example, there are preset modes for various sources, such as movie, game, PC, and others, which, according to Sharp, are the preset ideals for that type of material. You’ll also find a user mode that lets you customize settings like hue, saturation, and color temperature to your liking, or even have an ISF-certified technician calibrate your set.
Navigating through all these options is pretty simple via the onscreen menu system, which is very intuitive, if not super-slick. The menus are boxy and utilitarian, lacking the refinement of other flat-panel manufacturer’s wares. Meanwhile, the remote – the same one included with many Aquos sets – is uncluttered and very easy to use. Aquos Link lets you use it to control other Sharp devices, like a Blu-ray player.
In general, we would say this set is user-friendly yet high-functioning, which is a sweetspot that not all manufacturers are able hit. Of course, all that functionality don’t mean a thing if the picture quality doesn’t follow suit. Here again, the LC-46D65U does not let us down. We dialed in the image using the calibration Blu-ray Digital Video Essentials, and began our viewing tests.
One of our favorite new reference Blu-ray discs is Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. While the story isn’t all that compelling, it boasts a consistently pristine and vibrant 1080p 1.85:1 transfer. And the movie on the LC-46D65U looked very good indeed. The detail, like the hairs on lion manes, was superb. All the colors of the jungles and the creatures within looked magnificent, with great saturation. Madagascar also features some inky blacks. While the LC-46D65U doesn’t feature the darkest blacks of all time, they were still good. Very dark source material, such as the final scene on the Blade Runner Blu-ray, where light and shadow commingle, looked great, with discernable detail, such as facial features, present in the darker shadows. Broadcast material looked just as good. We watched bits of the Superbowl from a DVR, and despite the sad outcome of the game, the Sharp had no issues with motion lag.
Sharp Aquos LC-46D65U
We also tested Sharp’s claims that the picture mode settings work best for their various types of source material. With Prince of Persia for the PS3 loaded, a game that is blissfully colorful compared to most games, we switched from game mode to movie mode. The difference was subtle, but in game mode the image seemed to have slightly more depth and color. Even with the lights up and the windows open, this LCD performed like a champ. It’s nice and bright, even with the power saving mode engaged.
The only real issue we had with the LC-46D65U was viewing angle. If you move off to the sides of the image dramatically, image quality drops off a bit.
Sharp’s LC-46D65U offers a nice combination of user-friendliness and features. Add a good picture to the mix, and you have what could be considered a bargain at $1,500. Sure, there are some less-expensive 46-inch models available, but you will likely not get as many features. One major bonus is the LC-46D65U’s energy efficiency, which will make you feel good about your purchase and save you a little money over time. And in the current economy, every little bit helps.
- Energy saving mode saves electricity and money
- Good picture quality, with great detail, sharpness, and color rendition
- Decent remote that works with other Sharp components
- Large degree of user customization available
- Menu system could be less utilitarian.
- Image quality drops off from extreme viewing angles