Sharp’s new Aquous range falls well into the "future proof" category, assuming that people are ready to invest in 1080p screens for higher resolution video.

Whether or not consumers agree is yet to be seen, but with LG set to release a dual-format Blu-ray/HD DVD player we could see high-definition formats being adopted faster than you’d think.

The LC52XD1E might not be as big as the company's newly announced 108 inch model, but for the living room the 52 inch behemoth is for now, the second largest in the range and retails for a little under £3000.

It’s finished in the familiar high-gloss piano black, a beautiful design that manages to appear both minimalist and domineering at the same time.

It’s also mounted on a matching black stand that completes the breathtaking look; if LCD screens were cars the Sharp is one afro-sporting lothario short of the Knight Rider Trans-Am.

For it to find success in today’s market it would have to offer more than the somewhat premature 1080p support, and we’re pleased to say that it does. The most impressive thing about it is one of the most sought after attributes in the LCD field, the solid black.

The 52XD1E is excellent in this area, the 2000:1 contrast ratio doesn’t say enough about the true performance, particularly considering that the gloss-black finish on the casing provides an instant comparison to the screen. It seems to have the ability to make even relatively poor quality signals look great, dynamic contrast is superb and colours are beautifully crisp and vibrant.

It comes with a built in DTV tuner (with Freeview) and an electronic programme guide that makes it straightforward to view and browse listings.

There are twin HDMI and scart ports with a typical set of composite and component connections as you’d expect.

Quality for both analogue and digital television is excellent and if you’re in a position to feed it 1080p the clarity and colour is fantastic. Settings are easily tweaked through the effective menu structure that overlays the screen so that you can preview changes instantly.

It also comes with built-in surround sound which, perhaps partly due to the size of the thing, is also impressive; there’s distinct impact from the bass that seems much improved over Sharp’s previous range.

If your wallet (or living room) can’t stretch to accommodate the 52in screen, you’ll find a 42in panel with similar capabilities for around half the price.

Sharp offer a generous 3 year warranty with this new series so are happy to throw peace of mind into the bargain.

This combined with the excellent quality of the video and audio and a breathtaking design make the new range a fantastic centrepiece for any new HD setup.

Price when reviewed:

Sharp appear to have ticked all the boxes with the new range, the 52in on test is as dramatic and stylish as it is well performing.

Picture quality is consistently sharp [excuse the pun - Ed]and vibrant at both low and high signal resolutions and it’ll leave you in a perfect position to take advantage of upcoming high-resolution HD content.

Sections TV