Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.In terms of appearance and industrial design, the LC-45GX6U is quite impressive. Its outer frame is finished in a metallic gray, darker than the silver typical of some sets, and a black bezel surrounds the outer edge of the screen. The black strip lends to the beauty of the design and also improves the perceived contrast ratio.
The set comes in a stand-alone version, model LC-45GD6U, but the LC-45GX6U that we reviewed includes an outboard A/V controller that acts as an A/V source switcher. The controller is finished in the same metallic gray as the set itself, is the size of a standard A/V component, and routes all video signals to the panel via a 10-foot proprietary cable. A 33-foot version (model AN-HV6AV1, $199) is also available.
Sharp includes an integrated table stand with this set, which you can detach in favor of an optional wall mount if you so desire. Likewise, you can also remove the single-piece stereo speaker that runs along the bottom of the panel. If you prefer the appearance of side-mounted speakers, the LC-45GD4U may be more to your liking.
The backlit remote is quite large, with seemingly a zillion buttons in varying sizes and shapes, making it pretty awkward to use. We were disappointed to find that it doesn't have direct-access keys for input/source selection. The internal menu system is straightforward and fairly easy to navigate, although beginners may find the myriad options intimidating at first.Aside from Samsung's 46-inch LTP468W, this Sharp is the largest currently available flat-panel LCD TV--although larger ones were announced at CES 2005. With a native resolution of 1,920x1,080, the LC-45GX6U has enough pixels to display every bit of detail from the highest-resolution HDTV format (1080i), but it didn't quite realize that potential in our tests (see Performance for more). Its internal scalar fills the screen with all other sources, including 720p HDTV, standard-definition video, and computer.
Convenience features abound on the LC-45GX6U. Dual-tuner PIP (picture-in-picture) will appeal to sports fans wanting to keep tabs on more than one game at a time. A built-in ATSC tuner lets you get off-air HDTV broadcasts without an external HDTV tuner, while a Digital Cable Ready CableCard slot makes it possible to receive digital and high-def cable without a cable box. The front of the A/V controller also has a slot that accepts PC Card adapters for various types of flash memory, so you can easily display photos on the big screen.