Display modes for standard-definition (480i/p) programs include Stretch (properly displays 16:9 format images), Sidebar (displays 4:3 images with gray sidebars), Smart Stretch (stretches 4:3 images to fill the screen), and Zoom. Any of these can be selected by pressing the View Mode key. There are no display options for high-def programs - the set simply locks into Stretch and stays put.
SETUP Sharp's plentiful setup options made it easy to tweak the set for best performance. If you plan to use the speakers (I left them in the box), you attach them to either side of the set using the supplied screws and then plug the wires into terminals on the sides. Aside from basic settings like brightness, contrast, and color, you can select from five different color-temperature settings and adjust the overall output of the LCD panel's backlight.
But the real kicker proved to be the Color Management System, which provides three submenus - Hue, Saturation, and Value - for fine-tuning color balance, with six color channels available within each menu. You can store custom picture settings in the User preset or modify any of the other four presets and save your changes. This is helpful because it lets you recall adjustments you've made for different program sources, like DVD and HDTV.
PICTURE QUALITY Before I so much as touched a control, I was impressed by how bright and crisp the image looked with daylight streaming in my windows. Not only that, but picture contrast was good compared with most other TVs, looking anything but washed out in all that sunlight - even from seating positions well off to one side of the couch. This is definitely a TV that's made for daytime viewing.
After making adjustments in both its user-accessible and hidden service menus (see "in the lab"), I settled back to watch The Thin Red Line DVD on a Bravo D2 player via a DVI connection. The TV easily displayed the rich range of colors of the Pacific islands locales without emphasizing certain tones. Subtle colors - as in the bluish beach rocks, light-tan huts, and reddish-brown skin of the native islanders - came through clearly. The AWOL hide of the spacey Pvt. Witt (Jim Caviezel, obviously preparing for his next big role, as Jesus in The Passion of the Christ) looked sun-baked without being too red.
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