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LCD TV Review: 5 LCD Television Shootout




SONY KLV-23HR1 - 23" Widescreen LCD TV
SHARP LC30HV4U - 30" Widescreen LCD TV

The above listed models have been given serious scrutiny in our latest LCD TV shootout. The models have been tested with different "clean" video sources with no loop through techniques. This extensive testing requires extra time and effort but yields the most relevant results possible. If testing it to occur side-by-side then we utilize 5 different original video sources at the same time. We use Sencore VSB players, Samsung HDTV decoders, Extron video switchers, Sony DVD players with progressive and 480i input, PCs, VCRs, and Philips color analyzers in the testing process.

Left to Right: SONY KLV-23HR1, SHARP LC-20B2UA

Testing these units proved very interesting as LCD TVs can vary quite a bit from size to size and with different LCD panel quality standards.

Major concerns with LCD technology in general are contrast (especially the depth of blacks), viewing angle, conversion, motion artifacts caused by trailer effect, and gray scaling. We have attempted to cover most major considerations when purchasing an LCD television. Though we may have omitted some qualitative aspects, we believe that a pattern is created by this review in such a way to help you make an informed buying decision.

All of the contestants in this shootout have a built in tuner (except the Sharp LC-30HV4U which comes with a large outboard media receiver). All of these LCD TVs have speakers, an included stand, and ample inputs for 95% of user applications.

These LCD monitor/TVs are ranked in order of qualitative performance for each category. The final analysis is simply the ratings multiplied by their inverse relation. The testing is done using factory settings for each model.

Category 1 - BLACK LEVELS

  1. Panasonic - Deepest most unrestricted blacks
  2. Sony - Excellent gray scaling for an LCD
  3. Sharp 20" - Still rich for LCD
  4. Samsung - Bit hazy but still tolerable
  5. Sharp 30" - Partly because of size, has a tough time holding good black levels


  1. Sharp 20" - Though colors run warm, excellent color output
  2. Sony - Most realistic color reproduction
  3. Panasonic - Mediocre performance. Some inconsistency.
  4. Sharp 30" - Unit is too bright, with not enough contrast
  5. Samsung - Unit is hazy with many inputs

Category 3 CLARITY
  1. Sharp 20" - More depth, clear edges and detail
  2. Sony - Bit soft on the edges, but reasonable
  3. Samsung - Hazy, fuzzy image edges
  4. Panasonic - Not impressive performance in clarity
  5. Sharp 30" - Fuzzy around images much of the time. Tone down Sharpness control.


  1. Sharp 20" - Small and sharp. Very difficult to notice trailer effect on a unit this small
  2. Samsung - The smaller is contributing to the units success here as the naked eye has a hard time seeing trailer
  3. Sharp 30" - Impressive performance in this area for a 30" monitor. Sharp as a company is focused on reducing the response time for their LCD displays. They claim 15 milliseconds with this unit
  4. Sony - some visible trailer but not too distracting
  5. Panasonic - Definitely needs to focus on this quantitative feature in LCD. Unit visibly lags in fast sports sequences

Category 5 VIEWING ANGLE (point at which we tested a noticeable decrease in color saturation, contrast, and brightness)

  1. Sony - Did not note a decline until around 80 degrees
  2. Sharp 20" and 30" - both started to lose richness around 60 degrees
  3. Panasonic - Significant drop in panel quality is noticeable here from sides. Quality begins to drop at 45 degrees
  4. Samsung - Same as comment on Panasonic above except drop the degree to 35


  1. Sony - Detailed and noticeable difference between the two signals was much improved in progressive. Colors became richer as contrast increased
  2. Sharp 30" - Much cleaner picture with progressive - helps contrast considerably on this unit. Interlaced not upgraded well from media receiver
  3. Panasonic - much lighter and brighter in 480i translates into low contrast on this unit. Much better in progressive
  4. Samsung - Incredibly receives 480i signal with good upconverting performance there and poor reception with 480p. Actually looks much better in 480i.
  5. Sharp 20" - Did not take a 480p signal successfully from the DVD player.
Category 7 OVERALL PICTURE QUALITY (using factory settings)
  1. Sony - Our reviewers were in agreement that the Sony was the most realistic and smoothest overall performance
  2. Sharp 20" - Also impressed us and was very detailed
  3. Samsung - Much better on 480 interlaced and not bad with regular cable. Inconsistent with regard to color reproduction and input conversion
  4. Panasonic - Viewing angle was the major negative but black levels were great
  5. Sharp 30" - Overly bright picture washed out much of the color richness we saw on the other LCD monitors and also hurt contrast. Unit has a tough time producing deep blacks. Color reproduction compared to the Sharp 20" was startling in a negative way
  1. Sony - Excellent surround sound effect from the 55 mm dome woofers and 17 mm dome tweeters. 4 detailed watts per speaker
  2. Samsung - Good, solid audio performance for a small LCD monitor. Full and clear. 5 watts per speaker
  3. Panasonic - Robust, loud audio volume for such a small monitor
  4. Sharp 30" - At 10 watts per channel not impressive. A bit tinny at times
  5. Sharp 20" - Spotty and tinny from the 2.5 watts per speaker audio function
  1. Sony - Straight forward nicely laid out remote with easy to use varied preprogrammed picture settings
  2. Sharp 20" - Simple attractive remote but menu options take the user through additional unneeded steps to get to settings
  3. Sharp 30" - Should be able to control the space shuttle with this remote. After learning all the functions and features figure out where your going to store the 8 inch mammoth
  4. Samsung - Cheap feel and look. Menu options are pretty straight forward
  5. Panasonic - Simple small cheap affair, with full screen but simplistic menu
Category 10 AESTHETICS
  1. Sharp 20" - Sleek, modern , sexy, silver, updated looks with great looking stand
  2. Sharp 30" - Same as 20" unit except with cumbersome and very large media receiver box
  3. Sony - Very attractive silver framing against charcoal outset bezel. Vice outline and I like the speaker angles on the bottom
  4. Samsung - Simple boxy design in silver. Sits low on the stand. Standard monitor design for this size
  5. Panasonic - Nice looking but basic boxy design. The black does not stand out as much as its silver competitors, which may be a good aspect in certain circumstances. Speakers are underneath screen
Category 11 VALUE
  1. Sharp 20"
  2. Sony 23"
  3. Samsung 17"
  4. Panasonic 20"
  5. Sharp 30"
FINAL RATINGS (Calculated by using inverse value for each category)
  1. Sony 23" 46 Points
  2. Sharg 20" 42 Points
  3. Samsung 17" 28 Points
  4. Panasonic 20" 26 Points
  5. Sharp 30" 26 Points

Rating scale from 70 (denoting poorest quality) to 100 (signifying the very best quality). A rating in the 60s for any particular category of a product review indicates a serious defect which causes the product not to operate properly. Picture quality is double-weighted in the Overall Rating Score calculation.

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