Although flat-panel LCD TVs have been hanging around even longer than plasma models, their small-size screens have garnered less attention. But things changed in the past year: LCD TVs started zooming up in size, undoing the myth that the technology is good only for small displays in the kitchen, bedroom, or office. Today, you can find flat-panel LCD TVs plenty big enough for home theater use.
The widescreen, 37-inch LC-37G4U, a step down from Sharp's largest LCD models, boasts a resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels and comes with a separate A/V switching and control box, a set of detachable speakers, and a table stand that pivots about 30° in either direction. All the pieces have a high-tech, silver finish.
The external AVC System, or A/V switching and control box, is about the size of a DVD player and has pretty much every type of connection you'll need to hook up high-def sources like a satellite receiver or cable box, including the new all-digital HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) and DVI (Digital Visual Interface) inputs. There are also dual RF antenna jacks for tuning in analog off-air TV broadcasts and cable programs - you'll need a separate HDTV tuner to receive off-air digital broadcasts. About the only thing that seems to be missing is an S-video jack. There is one, but it's located beneath a front-panel door that also conceals a PC Card slot for viewing digital photos stored on flash memory.
Sharp's slim, silver-toned remote control is packed with buttons but has a clean layout and a fully backlit keypad. Once I located the important controls, like Input and View (display) Mode, it was easy to find them again in a dark room. To switch sources, you press Input and either scroll through a list of options using the arrow keys or step through them by pressing the button again.
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