Sharp LL-173G-B review
It was with some sadness that we watched Sharp’s LL-172G-B 17in TFT slip from our A List due to discontinuation. Now the replacement’s here and unfortunately it’s disappointing – it hardly seems like a replacement at all. Gone is the stylish metal X-shaped stand, replaced with a humdrum black plastic one. The height-locking lever has also been swapped for a cheap metal pin to lock down the stand so it won’t rise through its 70mm range during transport. Tilt range tips the screen 20 degrees back to five degrees forward, and there’s about 60 degrees swivel side-to-side.
The screen itself looks relatively unchanged, with power circuitry and 1W stereo speakers hidden within, and a handy headphone socket on the front. The DVI-D and D-SUB sockets are round the back, and it’s nice to see a cable supplied for the 3.5mm audio input jack.
Viewing angles are wide enough for flexible viewing, but the picture shows little distinction in graduations approaching black, and it’s no better at the top end. On 256-step greyscale and colour ramps there’s a noticeable divide where brightness suddenly steps down, and it washes out to white early as well. This made skin tones grainy and shadows lacked detail in films.
Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to iron out these issues over a DVI input since both black level (brightness) and contrast are disabled, leaving white balance and gamma as your primary configuration tools. This wasn’t a problem with the previous model, thanks to its excellent image quality, but the LL-173G-B is less forgiving. Where you do have some control is over white balance, with Cool, Standard and Warm options, plus a User setting for adjusting red, green and blue separately.
Bizarrely, we got better results over the analog input. Brightness and contrast finally came under our control and we could eek out much more detail. Thankfully, the timing was rock-solid and flicker-free too. However, banding on colour graduations was still a problem.
Sharp’s LL-173G-B is a let-down, particularly when the previous model was so fantastic. Although it performs reasonably under analog, digital operation falls well short of expectations, particularly when the A-Listed ViewSonic VP171s-2 costs less.