Sharp’s Elite Pro-60X5FD ($5,999 list) is aptly named; in terms of price and performance, this 60-inch LED backlit HDTV is in a class by itself. Its color accuracy, image detail, and black levels are superb, it offers a plethora of picture settings, and its 3D imagery is as good as it gets, but the Elite is not without its flaws. Our tests showed that the panel’s off-angle viewing is not quite up to par, and as is typically the case, 2D to 3D conversion quality can’t touch the real thing. Last (but certainly not least), you’ll need very deep pockets to afford the Elite’s $6K price tag. That said, if money is no object and you want a top-shelf HDTV with a stunning picture, look no further than the Elite Pro-60X5FD. It’s our latest Editors’ choice for high-end HDTVs
The new Elite line of HDTVs is a hybrid of sorts; it builds upon the raging success of the now-defunct Pioneer Elite Kuro line, featuring Sharp’s new IVC (Intelligent Variable Contrast) technology, and incorporating RGB-Y (yellow pixel) technology, made popular with the Sharp Aquos Quattron line. We reviewed the 60-inch model but Sharp also offers a 70-inch model (Elite Pro-70X5FD) that carries a list price of $8,499.
Design and Features
A smart-looking set, the Elite Pro-60X5FD’s shiny panel is framed by 1.25-inch black brushed aluminum bezels, and unlike other Sharp HDTVs, such as the Aquos LC-60LE640U, the front of the set is devoid of Sharp logos. Only a gold ‘Elite’ badge adorns the lower middle bezel. Below the bottom bezel is a one-inch strip that contains a power LED, a 3D emitter, a remote sensor, and an OPC (Optical Picture Control) sensor. The 66-pound, 3-inch thick cabinet sits atop a large rectangular piano black base that provides plenty of support but lacks a swivel mechanism.
All of the ports are located on the back panel. Five HDMI inputs, an audio output, and a USB port are vertically mounted and face the left side for easy access, even if the TV is hung on a wall. Surface mounted ports include two sets of composite A/V inputs, one set of component A/V inputs, RS-232 and VGA ports, and a PC audio input. The horizontal ports are positioned under a ledge and are more difficult to reach; they include a coaxial TV antenna jack, an audio input, an Ethernet port, a secondary USB port, and an optical digital audio output. Power, Input Select, Menu, Channel, and Volume buttons are positioned along the lower edge of the left bezel.
Two 15-watt speakers and a 15-watt subwoofer provide loud audio output with a good bass punch. The Elite offers a wide selection of audio settings; in addition to treble, bass, and balance settings, you can enable a 3D Surround option, add more low-end with the Bass Enhancer, and enhance dialog with the Clear Voice option.
The 9.25-inch backlit remote shares the same brushed black finish as the TV’s bezels and contains 59 buttons and a four-way rocker and Enter key. Chances are this is the only remote you’ll need as it offers a full set of player controls (hidden behind a flip up panel) and has buttons to switch between the TV, a set-top box, a DVD/BD player, and an audio receiver. In addition to the standard channel, volume, and number pad keys there’s a dedicated Netflix button, an App button that opens the Web services menu, a 3D button that toggles between 2D and 3D, three Favorite App buttons, and a button that takes you into the Power Saving menu.
Based on Sharp’s latest Gen-Ten UV2A panel, the Elite Pro-60X5FD features Intelligent Variable Contrast technology, which works in tandem with the full-array LED backlighting, local dimming, and RGB-Y color technology. The end result is deep, dark blacks, brilliant whites, and extremely accurate colors with some serious pop. The panel is THX and ISF (imaging science foundation) certified and is brimming with picture settings for home users and professional calibrators alike.
You get twelve AV modes to choose from depending on room brightness and the type of content you’ll be viewing. Choices include two high contrast Dynamic modes, PC and Game modes, a customizable User mode, Standard, and Movie mode. There’s also a THX Movie mode, which optimizes the picture to conform to THX viewing standards, an Optimum mode that uses the ambient light sensor to automatically adjust image settings, and an Elite Pure mode that offers enhanced black levels. Finally, there are two ISF settings (day and night) that provide advanced image controls for ISF-certified calibration technicians and an x.v. International Color mode that supports wide gamut colors.
In addition to the basic brightness, contrast, backlight, tint, and sharpness settings you can go in and tweak a wide selection of advanced settings. The C.M.S. (Color Management System) adjustments include Hue, Saturation, and Value levels to help achieve perfect color tone, and there are five color temperature settings to choose from. Each of these settings can be fine tuned using a white balance RGB gain setting. There are also five gamma settings and two black level settings.
Other advanced settings include FluidMotion, which uses backlight-scanning technology to achieve a 240Hz smoothing effect, Film Mode for smoothing out 24 fps content, Active Contrast, which adjusts image contrast depending on the content on the screen, and digital noise reduction.
The Elite Pro-60X5FD offers wired Ethernet and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity along with a nice catalog of Web apps. A suite of Vudu apps includes movies, Facebook, Pandora, Flickr, Twitter, and Picasa Web Albums. It also brings more than 20 news channels, over a dozen arts and entertainment channels, and assorted sports, music, and science channels. Movie services include Youtube, CinemaNow, Blockbuster, and Netflix, and you get Skype and Napster apps.