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Sharp Aquos

Sharp Pictures from Thin Screen

by Jim Bray

Want a flat, thin TV but can’t afford a plasma?

Sharp may have just the thing for you, though it’s expensive enough that you could end up thinking plasma’s the way to go after all.

It’s the Aquos line of liquid crystal display (LCD) television, a high end line of TV’s that offers an excellent picture in a unit that’s small and light compared with conventional televisions.

I had a chance to play with one of these sets for a short time (too short, alas, since I was really enjoying it) and, though the remote control was missing and I therefore couldn’t work it as well, or at least as easily, as I’d have liked, I was mightily impressed with the set's overall quality.

It was the model CC20B2U, a handsome 20 inch set that, unfortunately, was in the eventually-to-be-obsolete 4x3 aspect ratio rather than the more future-friendly 16x9 shape. I could live with that, of course, but I think anyone these days looking to spend a couple of grand on a TV would be doing himself a disservice by not going widescreen when TV broadcasts and DVD’s are all going that way, albeit slowy but surely.

Anyway, this particular Aquos is a handsome panel, slim enough to stand just about anywhere and mounted on a futuristic-looking stand that looks like something out of Star Trek - and that also doubles as a carrying handle. It's small enough to go just about anywhere; one of the places I tried it was in my bedroom (life is tough, eh?) and the 20 inch Aquos took up less space than the 13 inch CRT television I usually have there. The picture also blew my normal (admittedly very cheap) TV away.

You can imagine how much I enjoyed packing the Aquos back up to send it away when my review period was over...

The silver cabinet includes side-mounted two way speakers that pump out pretty good sound for a “garden variety” television. The audio is helped by a bottom-mounted subwoofer that gives what Sharp calls “2.1” channel audio.

Sharp's AQUOS TV's use what the company calls “state-of-the-art ASV (Advanced Super View) panels featuring Ultra-High Aperture TFT (UHA TFT), Sharp’s proprietary LCD panel technology.” This is supposed to deliver extremely wide viewing angles (170 degrees) and an exceptionally high, 500:1contrast ratio; it does, too, for the most part, though it's still an LCD and therefore not up to the black level standards available from a top line CRT.

Still, the picture is excellent at this size; I don't think an LCD really works for really big screens, but this 20 incher (which is less than 3 inches deep) would look mighty nice back in my bedroom – or as a kitchen unit.

Resolution is claimed to be 640x480 (921,000 pixels) and (besides its 181 channel MTS stereo tuner) the TV will handle NTSC/PAL-N/PAL-M Video System - NTSC 3.58 & 4.43/PAL/SECAM signals, which means it'll work pretty well everywhere in the world (it's also AC/DC) though the extra capability will probably be wasted on most users and it also adds to the already quite hefty price of approximately $2000US.

The Aquos also includes enough inputs and outputs to choke a horse. You get the usual cable input as well as a component video input, 2 composite video inputs, and an S-Video input as well as a composite video output and both fixed and variable audio outputs and a headphone output. Most of these connectors are hidden out of the way behind little panels on the back of the TV, making for a nice and clean look.

LCD monitors are really starting to take hold in the computer world, but have so far not made much of a splash in the home theater world. Sharp thinks its Aquos line is primed to change that, and it just may be – but I think they need to work on the price point to make them more attractive to a mainstream audience.

As mentioned above, I'd also recommend anyone looking for a reasonably high end TV these days (regardless of its brand) to pursue the 16x9 aspect ratio, which will last them a lot longer over the years.

Fortunately, Sharp also makes a couple of Aquos models in the widescreen configuration as well.

Hope they send one of them next!

Jim Bray's technology columns are distributed by the TechnoFILE and Mochila Syndicates. Copyright Jim Bray.


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Updated January 14, 2021