How elite is Sharp’s Elite Pro-60X5FD? So elite that you can’t just walk into your local big-box store and walk out with one. So elite that if you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it. So elite that it doesn’t even say Sharp on the bezel; it says Elite.
With that kind of cred, you expect one damn good TV. And the Pro-60X5FD is that, with to-die-for black levels, glorious color, enough ports to fill two TVs, and just about every eyeball-pleasing extra technologists have invented. Only a couple of usability quirks stop this panel from achieving perfection.
The first thing you’re likely to notice about the 60-inch LED-backlit screen, aside from its room-commanding size, is that you can see yourself in it. The high-gloss glass reflects everything, which is not a problem when you’re in a dark room watching something bright, but distracts like crazy when there’s ambient light from lamps and windows.
Ye, gods, does this screen look sweet.
Other TVs have a matte finish that helps reduce the glare. But perhaps the Elite’s mirror-like surface is the price you pay for the deepest blacks and most spot-on colors you’re likely to see in a home environment. Ye, gods, does this screen look sweet.
Likewise, the Elite rocks the best 3-D this side of the megaplex. A Blu-ray of Despicable Me, played on the blessedly 3-D-savvy PlayStation 3, resulted in Blown-Away Me. There’s even a 3-D-to-2-D conversion option that lets weary-eyed viewers downshift while others stick with all three D’s. However, while Sharp bundles two pairs of active-shutter glasses, the only sanctioned way to charge them is through the TV’s own USB port — and there’s only one. Weak.
Speaking of game consoles, Blu-ray players, and the like, you can connect up to five of them to the Elite’s seemingly endless array of HDMI inputs. Roku box optional, though: the Elite has a Netflix button right on its remote, and that’s just one of eight media apps accessible from its slick pop-up menu. Unfortunately, while the selection includes video heavyweights like Vudu and YouTube, it lacks heavierweights like Amazon and Hulu. And what’s with building in Napster but not Pandora? At least there’s DLNA support for streaming your own media libraries.
Even the fanciest HDTVs tend to have crummy speakers, but the Elite pairs two 15-watt cones with a 15-watt subwoofer, resulting in sound that’s pretty decent. In fact, big props to the Clear Voice menu option that boosts dialog volume. Of course, any home theater with a TV like this as the centerpiece is certain to have a comparably lavish surround-sound system, so this is practically superfluous hardware.
Once you’ve wrangled the settings to your liking, you’re going to have the happiest eyeballs in the neighborhood.
Sharp’s heavy, angular remote could use some sexing up, though it’s nicely balanced and can illuminate for easier nighttime clicking. Unfortunately, it’s surprisingly inconsistent at actually controlling the TV; it flat-out doesn’t work unless you point it straight at the center. Thinking I’d received a defective clicker, I asked Sharp for a replacement — and it was equally inept.
Another gripe: Some of the Elite’s AV modes produce the dreaded soap opera effect. You can always choose a different mode or manually tweak your way out of it, but this seems inexcusable in a TV with this pedigree.
Likewise, Sharp’s Intelligent Variable Contrast technology, which automatically adjusts brightness and backlighting depending on ambient light, can sometimes be spotted working its auto-dimming magic. It’s weird to see the picture shift slightly brighter or darker while you’re watching.
These are not deal-breakers by any means. Once you’ve wrangled the settings to your liking, you’re going to have the happiest eyeballs in the neighborhood. The Pro-60X5FD proves once and for all that being elitist has its advantages.