Thursday, April 3, 2008

Operating Sharp LC42XL2E

On-Screen User Menu

Just like that on its predecessor LC42XD1E, the user menu on the Sharp LC42XL2E is beautifully sharp and generally well laid-out, but I found it somewhat frustrating to navigate due to its inbuilt response time delay: even if you try to hop around the menu quickly by clicking your remote furiously, the selection cursor on screen will only respond in 0.5 to 1-second intervals.

Enough lamenting... let's take a peek at the controls available in the submenus.

Picture submenu Advanced picture submenu
[Picture] submenu [Picture] > [Advanced] submenu

8 picture and audio presets – dubbed [AV Mode] – are available on the Sharp LC42XL2E: [Dynamic (Fixed)], [Dynamic], [Standard], [Movie], [Game], [PC], [xvYCC] and [User]. You can only switch between presets by pressing a button on the remote control, which is not helped by the fact that the button in question is stowed in the flip-away compartment.

Apart from the [Dynamic (Fixed)] mode, the setting values can be adjusted for each preset, although only [User] is independent per input. The [PC] mode is only available through the HDMI and VGA inputs; and [xvYCC] only when accepting an xvYCC signal over HDMI.

Under the [Picture] > [Advanced] submenu, you can toggle [100Hz] motion on and off. [Film Mode], another important option, deinterlaces film-based material in the following manner:

  • Advanced: 3:2/ 2:2 pulldown with frame interpolation (amateur video feel)
  • Standard: classic 3:2/ 2:2 pulldown
  • Off: no film deinterlacing applied
Audio submenu Option submenu
[Audio] submenu [Option] submenu

In the [Audio] submenu, engaging the [Surround] option would result in a wider soundstage and more bass extension though at the slight expense of midrange clarity. Curiously, the [DNR] noise reduction control is placed under the [Option] rather than [Picture] submenu.

Input Source Setup submenu
Input Source [Setup] submenu

A neat trick the Sharp LC42XL2E has up its sleeve is the ability to automatically recognise and name connected HDMI devices. You can also name each source to your liking by using the [Input Label] feature under the [Setup] submenu.

Changing input source can prove challenging: linger a moment too long when scrolling the [Input Source] submenu and you may accidentally switch to another input even if it's blank. This is where the [Input Skip] control in the [Setup] submenu can come in handy.

EPG (Electronic Programme Guide)

I cannot make up my mind whether the EPG on Sharp LC42XL2E constitutes an upgrade or downgrade compared to that found on its predecessor LC42XD1E. Yes, the interface is now prettier thanks to pin-sharp high-definition font rendering, but I sorely miss the live preview window and programme summary that used to grace the main EPG screen.

Navigation is as sluggish as ever. While one could ease the pain somewhat on Samsung flat screen televisions by skipping up and down a page through a single press of a remote control button, unfortunately no such feature is available on the Sharp LC42XL2E.


The default EPG interface on the Sharp LC42XL2E is [Wide Angle] in which six 1-hour columns of programme are displayed, although more often than not the titles are truncated, making it difficult to glean the necessary info at a glance. Two other interfaces, namely [Zoom] and [Vertical Angle], are selectable in the [Digital Setup] > [EPG Setup] > [Display Range Setup] submenu. By holding down the [Ok] button on your remote control during normal TV viewing, you can also summon a [Channel List] which tabulates the current programmes on show:

EPG interface selection Channel List
EPG interface selection Channel List

Returning to explore the different EPG interfaces, the [Zoom] mode displays 3 hours worth of programme titles, whereas [Vertical Angle] formats the time span vertically:

Mode 2 (Zoom) EPG Mode 3 (Vertical Angle)
EPG Mode 2 (Zoom) EPG Mode 3 (Vertical Angle)

Remote Control

Aesthetically speaking, the infrared remote control bundled with the Sharp LC42XL2E complements the panel perfectly. Its extra-skinny body unquestionably perpetuates the "Slim-line" theme. And while its glossy black surface with silver side trims may be hard to rid of fingerprints, it really is an extension of the two-tone styling found on the panel. Throw in an LED screen (that can be backlit) near the top, a diamond-shaped navigational pad, and a slightly textured handle, and I hope you understand why I was so inspired to set it up for a studio shot:

Remote control

Functionally though certain aspects of the remote could have been designed better. The [AV Mode] button (which is required to switch between presets) and the [Aspect Ratio] button (which is needed to engage [Dot by Dot] for 1:1 pixel mapping) should never have been banished to the flip-away compartment which is infinitesimally more difficult to access. The individual keys are fairly resistant as well, demanding more force than usual to be clicked into the down position.

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