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In the mid-2000s, Pioneer manufactured a series of plasma TVs with the Elite moniker and TV reviewers loved them. Although pricey, these plasmas supposedly achieved incredibly deep black levels. In 2008, Pioneer unveiled their magnum opus: the Kuro Elite, named after the Japanese word for "black." This plasma made a name for itself at trade shows by showing a black image that was darker than some LCDs turned off. Unfortunately, 2008 was a bad time for the economy and many consumers could not afford to shell out $6,000 on a television. Pioneer got out of the TV business in 2009 and sold their plasma patents to Panasonic.

Fast-forward to 2011, when Sharp released the Elite series. If Pioneer sold their patents to Panasonic, why are they allowing Sharp to use the Elite brand name? Those patents they sold to Panasonic were for plasma technology, which Sharp does not dabble in. The Elite PRO-60X5FD is an LED-backlit LCD television, which may seem strange because the biggest selling point for the Kuro Elite was its space-like blackness, something that LCD TVs are not known for. We can confirm that, with a black image displayed, the Elite PRO-60X5FD can get so dark that you might think the TV is off. We can also confirm that this is with no auto-dimming enabled.

Does a seriously deep black level automatically make a TV great? No, it does not. In order to prove this, we ran our usual tests on the Sharp Elite PRO-60X5FD using our calibration methods and then ran the same tests using the Elite Pure mode, which tries to mimic the performance of the Pioneer Kuro Elite plasma TVs. Since there is no Elite Pure mode in 3D, we used the Movie THX settings for those tests.


The Elite PRO-X5FD is dark and we haven't even discussed contrast yet. The bezels are a deep matte black, the stand is a smooth and reflective black, and the strip of plastic between the bezel and stand is technically translucent, but it appears black by virtue of being sandwiched between these two. Notice a common theme with the design of this TV?

Dark color scheme aside, the Elite PRO-X5FD is a handsome television. Sony markets their Bravia line as having a "monolithic design," but Sharp one-ups them in that department. With its thin profile, pronounced corners, and yes, total blackness, the Elite is truly monolithic.

While the stand fits in with the overall design of the Elite PRO-X5FD, it is nothing more than a plastic rectangle. Does this diminish the good looks of this TV? Not really, since consumers shelling out $5,999 for a TV will most likely wall mount it, but it would have been nice to get a stand that matches the quality design of the TV.

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The Elite's on-set controls are found on the left side and are identical to those found on other Sharp TVs, like the LC-80LE844U and the LC-60LE847U. There are buttons for volume and channel control, as well as buttons that will change the input, access the menu, and power the TV.

The Elite remote is fit for a king. This device has more weight to it than most remotes do, which makes it feel like something more powerful than an ordinary remote. Maybe Sharp designed it with a king's scepter in mind.

The layout is good. Buttons are well-sized and spread out sufficiently. All the standard buttons like volume control and channel control are present, with some 21st century inclusions like a 3D, apps, and even a dedicated Netflix button.

The Sharp Elite PRO-X5FD comes with a remote, an owner's manual, two pairs of 3D glasses, and warranty information.

The main attraction on the backside of the Elite PRO-X5FD is the column of five HDMI ports. What this means for consumers is that you can now connect a cable box, two HD video game consoles, a 3D Blu-ray player, and a computer...at the same time!

In addition to the five high-def ports (right-side if looking from the back, left-side if viewing from the front), there is an audio output, a USB port, a VGA input, an RS-232C port (for home automation), a component input, and two dedicated composite inputs. Why there is an additional standard definition composite input instead of another HD component input is baffling to us.

There are some additional connections that are facing down, including another USB port, an ethernet jack, an antenna input, an audio input, and an S/PDIF (digital audio) output.

Everything was easy to access, even though the Elite PRO-X5FD does not swivel. The wealth of ports available on this TV practically begs consumers to watch something on it.

One of the Elite's selling points is the addition of a yellow sub-pixel, which Sharp calls RGB+Y technology. This all sounds so familiar...

Yes, the technology in question is just Sharp's patented Quattron technology, rebranded to sound more elite. Dr. Raymond Soneira, creator of the DisplayMate software that we use to test and calibrate TVs, wrote an article explaining the futility of adding a yellow sub-pixel to the standard mix of red, green, and blue sub-pixels.

With that said, we were able to determine the major difference between the Elite Pure settings and our calibration settings: the Pure settings produce darker black levels and yielded a better contrast ratio, while our calibration settings produce better color accuracy and consistency. We are of the belief that color is the most important factor in judging a TV's performance. If you take a look at the Haier L55B2181, you'll see that its contrast is amazing. What makes this TV awful is how poorly it is able to show its range of colors, as evidenced by its color curves.

The Elite PRO-X5FD, using our calibration settings, was able to show a wide range of colors and could smoothly transition between different shades. Using the Elite Pure settings, this TV's color performance was below average.

Contrast tells the story of how dark a TV gets versus how bright it gets. A television that can get very dark and very bright should be able to show a more detailed image, at least according to conventional wisdom.

With our calibration methods, the results were good, but not as awe-inspiring as the Elite Pure picture mode. The darkest black level we recorded with these settings was 0.09 cd/m2 , which is decent, but does not live up to the fabled heritage of the Pioneer Kuro Elite plasma TV.

The Elite Pure mode, which tries to emulate the performance of the Pioneer Kuro Elite, was able to produce a superior contrast ratio than our calibration did, although it came at the expense of color accuracy. The deepest black level that we measured was 0.02 cd/m2 , which is phenomenally dark. With a peak brightness of 181.99 cd/m2 , the Elite PRO-X5FD achieved a contrast ratio of 9100:1—a fantastic score.

[More on how we test contrast.](/content/How-We-Test.htm#contrast) The color curves produced with our calibration settings were superb. Red, green, blue, and the greyscale ramp up smoothly, meaning that transitional colors and shades of grey will display.

The curves produced by the Elite Pure settings were all over the place. The jaggedness of these curves means that they jump up in luminance when certain input signals are given, only to drop down in luminance for the next input signal. The result is an uneven transition from a color's lowest level to its highest.

[More on how we test color performance.](/content/How-We-Test.htm#RGBcurves) Using our calibration methods, we were able to minimize color temperature error. All of the fluctuations inside the greenish rectangle are not visible, meaning that only the darkest images will have a slightly warmer hue.

Color temperature error on the Elite PRO-X5FD using the Elite Pure settings was more noticeable. There wasn't any noticeable color temperature error for most of the greyscale, although the darker greys produced a much warmer hue.

[More on how we test color temperature.](/content/How-We-Test.htm#colortemperature) Both of the color gamuts produced were similar, but there were some notable differences. With our calibration settings, the reds matched up perfectly with the industry standard. Greens and blues were less accurate: both were oversaturated, meaning that at their highest input signals, greens would look slightly more neon and blues would look more purple. The white point, which affects color temperature, was spot on.

The color gamut using the Elite Pure settings also had excellent reds and less accurate greens and blues. The difference with this gamut is that less of the greens are oversaturated, while the blues will appear even more purple. Additionally, the white point was off.

[More on how we test color temperature.](/content/How-We-Test.htm#colorgamut) When we refer to picture dynamics, we are talking about the TV's ability to display blacks consistently, no matter how dark or bright the screen is. The same applies to white levels. Both of the calibration settings produced good picture dynamics on the Sharp Elite PRO-X5FD. To be more specific, our calibration settings produced a luminance of 0.09 cd/m^2 when the screen was 90% black and a luminance of 0.10 cd/m^2 when the screen was 5% black. With the Elite Pure settings, a 90% black screen had a luminance of 0.02 cd/m^2 and a 5% black screen had a luminance of 0.05 cd/m^2 . The great score here is a result of the local dimming feature on this TV, which adjusts certain LED backlights depending on the content displayed. [More on how we test picture dynamics.](/content/How-We-Test.htm#picturedynamics) The Sharp Elite PRO-X5FD series has a native resolution of 1080p and can display all standard NTSC formats. With our calibration methods, we did not get as dark of an image as the Elite Pure settings were able to produce. This was noticeable with the viewing angle: our calibration yielded a total viewing angle of 63°, which is good for a TV with an LCD screen.

The Elite Pure settings were able to produce a much better total viewing angle of 107°, which is more like the viewing angles produced by plasma TVs. With these settings, the Elite PRO-X5FD was able to keep black images dark at increasingly wide angles.

The Elite PRO-X5FD enjoyed decent motion performance. The difference between the two calibration modes was that we do not use any motion processing features while the Elite Pure mode uses the FluidMotion setting, which gives movies a noticeable dose of the Soap Opera Effect. This was clearly visible while watching the movie Selena: scenes where Jennifer Lopez is dancing appear unnervingly smooth.

With motion processing turned off, we noticed that fast moving images produced noticeable blur and straight lines appeared slightly jagged when moving across the screen, but these were not problematic when watching actual movies.

Both calibration settings produced a perfect screen uniformity. An all-white image on the screen produced a smooth result: there was no shadowing in the corners and brightness was consistent on all parts of the screen.

An all black image was a different story, and we mean different in a good way. With our calibration settings, we achieved a black level of 0.09 cd/m2 on a 90% black screen. This result is decent, but not groundbreaking. Making the screen completely black, meaning that no white shows up, produced one of the darkest screens we have ever seen. We made sure that there was no auto-dimming at play here—there wasn't. We then pressed the mute button, which brought up the mute symbol on this sea of blackness, showing us that yes, the screen was on and yes, the Elite PRO-X5FD can get seriously dark.

Results were the same for the Elite Pure settings.

We don't expect to be impressed by TV audio. You can only do so much with the tiny speakers that companies put in their TVs, which are usually a far cry from the quality offered by basic external speakers.

The Elite PRO-60X5FD changes this.

The overall sound quality produced by the Elite's two 15-watt speakers and one 15-watt subwoofer is clear all-around. The low-ends, like bass, actually feel powerful, yet not distorted. Treble tones were crisp and avoided the dreaded "tinny" sound that many TVs have. Mid-range frequencies, like dialogue, sounded loud and intelligible. This was an impressive auditory performance.

Like other Sharp TVs that we have reviewed, there are plenty of sound options included to play around with. Treble, bass, and balance can all be adjusted. There is a bass enhancer, which actually works and puts the 15-watt subwoofer to work. Surround mode, referred to as "3D Surround," spreads the audio out and does an admirable job of mimicking an actual 5.1 system, although it's not quite that good.

The different calibration settings we used affected power consumption. The Elite Pure settings produced very favorable results: watching this TV for about five hours per day over the course of a year would yield an annual cost of about $15.04.

Our calibration settings were brighter than the Elite Pure settings, so they produced a higher power consumption cost. When the TV was calibrated for a peak luminance of 200 cd/m2, it would consume roughly $25.78 per year. With the backlight setting turned all the way up, it would cost an estimated $31.83 over the course of a year.

When calibrating TVs, we always put the TV in Movie mode and turn the backlight setting all the way up. We then proceed to change the settings by using the DisplayMate software for reference. Since we do this for all TVs, it puts them on a level playing field.

As we mentioned before, we decided to test the Sharp Elite PRO-X5FD using the Elite Pure settings, which mimic the Pioneer Kuro plasma TVs of yore, and our own calibration settings. We didn't need to change much from the normal Movie mode settings, aside from turning off all the motion enhancement features.

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All of our calibration is done in conjunction with the DisplayMate software.

](http://www.displaymate.com/)

Sharp stuffs the Elite PRO-X5FD with tons of video modes.

The Sharp Elite PRO-X5FD is a TV for enthusiasts. As such, it feels like Sharp paid more attention to the 2D performance than they did to the 3D performance. The 3D effect is underwhelming and has noticeable image ghosting, which ruins the immersion factor.

We again used two different calibrations and ran tests on both of them. We calibrated the TV in conjunction with the DisplayMate software, like we normally do, and we then used the Movie THX settings since there is no Elite Pure mode in 3D.

The results varied: while our calibration had better color consistency and produced a slightly brighter image, the Movie THX settings produced a more accurate range of colors.

The Elite PRO-X5FD never wowed us with spectacular 3D effects—the total experience was just mediocre. We wouldn't say that the Elite handles 3D poorly, but there is definitely room for improvement. We tested 3D with our calibration settings and with the Movie THX settings—there is no Elite Pure mode in 3D.

With both calibration settings, there is noticeable crosstalk, or image ghosting. 3D creates two separate images, each intended for a specific eye. Crosstalk is created when an image meant for one eye is shown in the other. This annoying effect ruins the immersion that 3D is supposed to create.

Sharp includes two pairs of active 3D glasses with the Elite. We always love getting 3D glasses included with a TV, but we can't completely fall in love with Sharp's glasses (model AN-3DG20-EL). These glasses are on the heavier side and the feeling that you are wearing them does not go away.

3D glasses act much like sunglasses: they will make all content slightly darker. This was the case for both calibration methods: the blacks became deeper, but the white levels were cut, too.

Using the Movie THX settings, we were able to measure a black level of 0.01 cd/m2, which is excellent.

The 3D color temperature, with our calibration settings, showed very little error for most of the input spectrum. The image starts to take on a cooler color temperature towards the darker greys and beyond.

With the Movie THX settings, the Elite PRO-X5FD produced a similar result: the darker inputs appear cooler (more blue).

The color curves produced by using our calibration settings were great and almost as good as the 2D results. Each color ramped up in luminance smoothly as a higher input signal was given. Blues seemed to get brighter than the other colors, though.

With the Movie THX settings, reds and greens peaked early. Colors should achieve their peak luminance at an input level of 255, but red achieves this at an input level of 211. Green fares slightly better, peaking at an input level of 243.

Using our calibration settings, the 3D color gamut was very similar to the 2D color gamut, which was decent. The blues are slightly undersaturated compared to the 2D gamut, which is actually a good thing since the 2D gamut produced peak blues that were purplish.

The 3D color gamut produced using the Movie THX settings is actually impressive. You can see that the blues are undersaturated compared to the 2D gamut, which is great because those blues were very oversaturated. The white point using these settings is actually more white than cyan, which is another good sign.

What kind of menu should a super high-class television have? Should the panels have pictures of diamonds around the borders? How about excessive animations every time something is selected?

Sharp opted to give the Elite PRO-X5FD a minimalist menu instead of making it look like a GeoCities webpage circa 1999. The grey panel that pops up on the left-side of the screen has a textured appearance that matches the bezels on the TV. Navigating the menu interface is easy and never feels like a chore.

There is internet content on the Elite: five apps worth of content, to be exact. Rest assured—Netflix is included, just not much else.

In regards to apps and internet content, Sharp cuts right to the chase: this is a TV meant for watching content, not browsing the internet or playing horrible Flash games.

There is no hub or portal for smart content, only the "apps" button on the remote. Pressing this button brings up a panel on the left-side of the TV that has access to all of the apps available. In the order that these apps are presented, we have Vudu, YouTube, CinemaNow, Netflix, and Skype—those are all of the apps available. In addition to these five, there are icons for Sharp's Elite Advantage warranty service, USB media, and accessing files via DLNA.

The most important app that the Elite has is Netflix because of its wide range of movies and TV shows. Unfortunately, it is also the only good app. The YouTube app, which is the same one most smart TVs have, is almost useless because a lot of copyrighted content is omitted.

Vudu brings together a lot of streaming content, but unless you enjoy streaming episodes of the Today show or G4's X-Play, you can skip it. CinemaNow is a movie streaming service which allows one-time rentals or purchases of new releases. The selection isn't nearly as good as Netflix, but we did notice that Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3 just came in.

The real oddball inclusion is Skype. We assume video calling is available on this—we were not able to log in with our Skype credentials, but a webcam for this TV does exist.

Media can be accessed by a USB drive on the Elite PRO-X5FD. Music, pictures, and videos can be found on the exact same interface that "normal" Sharp TVs have. While not pretty, this interface gets the job done and provides easy access to your precious media files.

Pressing the menu button on the kingly remote that comes with the Elite PRO-X5FD brings up a panel on the left-side of the screen. This panel features six menu categories:

| Menu Category | | Description |

| Picture Settings | | Change picture modes and adjust picture settings. |

| Audio Settings | | Change audio modes and adjust audio settings. |

| Power Control | | Toggle power-saving options. |

| System Options | | Adjust specific menu options. |

| Initial Setup | | Change settings that were made during the TV's initial setup. |

| Information | | Shows the current software version and allows the user to update it. |

We like the simple approach to menu design that Sharp used for the Elite PRO-X5FD. The grey menu panel gives the appearance of brushed metal, adding to the Elite's handsome nature.

Going into the picture settings menu, users will find a wide range of settings to tweak, including adjustments for how saturated you want each color (red, yellow, green, cyan, blue, and magenta). Some of these settings are overkill—they are features that many consumers will never touch. The Elite PRO-X5FD isn't your average television, though, so it is nice to see that Sharp is indulging the TV intelligentsia.

Would you expect anything less than stellar customer support from a TV you just spent $5,999 on? The Elite PRO-X5FD delivers on this expectation with the wonderful Elite Advantage service.

Opening the Elite Advantage app will bring up a screen that has four selections, one of them being "support." By clicking on support with your remote, you will eventually be given a four-digit connection number and instructions to call Sharp's Elite Advantage phone line. We tested this out and waited for about seven minutes until we were connected with a Sharp technician.

By giving these technicians the four-digit connection number from earlier, they can adjust settings remotely and check to see if any errors are showing up on the Elite PRO-X5FD. While they are controlling your TV, your remote will be disabled so as not to interfere with their adjustments. We were told that this service is for helping owners with problems on their Elite and is not intended to be a calibration service. We were impressed by what we saw.

Sharp packages their user manual better than any company we've seen. The handsome black user manual, which feels more like a car's operating manual, comes in a black box with the Elite label printed in gold.

The actual insides of the manual are nothing to laugh at: information is organized by a table of contents and almost any question we had about this TV could be answered by this manual. One thing that it does not include is a detailed description of each picture mode, but aside from that caveat, we were happy with the Elite's manual.

When reviewing the Sharp Elite PRO-60X5FD (MSRP $5,999), we had some lofty expectations based on the price and the licensing of Pioneer's "Elite" moniker. Did this Sharp live up to these expectations? That's hard to say.

With a TV that costs $5,999 and licenses the name of a fabled television of yore, you would expect a "perfect picture." Unfortunately, the definition of a perfect picture isn't set in stone. Some say that contrast—the ratio of how dark a TV gets versus how bright it gets—is the most important factor in having a perfect picture. Using the Elite Pure settings, which emulates the picture of the Pioneer Kuro Elite plasma TVs, we saw one of the best contrast ratios we have ever seen.

We think that color accuracy and consistency is the determining factor in having a perfect picture. Using our calibration methods, the Elite was able to produce excellent colors. The range of colors we saw was very good, although not flawless. The way that this TV shows those colors, as in how smoothly it transitioned from different shades, was superb.

Sharp's biggest failure with the Elite PRO-X5FD is that it doesn't blow away the competition. As good as the colors were, and as good as the contrast could get, most consumers wouldn't be able to tell the difference between these results and the excellent results from two of our top-rated TVs: the Samsung E8000 and the Panasonic VT50. Those TVs cost thousands of dollars less than the Elite, which makes justifying its cost hard to do.

We don't want anyone thinking that this TV is bad—it's actually very good. No matter what calibration mode we used, there was no real fault with the Elite, aside from mediocre 3D. The audio was among the best we've heard from a television, there were plenty of connections on its backside, and the design is stunning. The included Elite Advantage service is also top-notch. Unfortunately, this doesn't add up to $5,999.

After getting out of the TV business, Pioneer sold their plasma technology patents to Panasonic. It has been rumored that the VT50, a television that scored very highly in our tests, makes use of those patents. Was the VT50 the television that Sharp should have made? Who are we to say? For what it's worth, the Sharp Elite PRO-X5FD is a solid TV that has cemented its own place in television history.

The Sharp Elite series features an LED back-lit screen and Sharp's RGB+Y technology. The "Elite" name is a reference to a line of televisions that Pioneer became famous for making.

Meet the tester

Josh Fields

Josh Fields

Staff Writer

@reviewedtech

An enthusiast of all things tech, Josh is one of Reviewed.com's resident television experts. When he's not looking at bright TV screens in a dark room, he's probably reviewing a laptop or finding a new snack at 7-11.

See all of Josh Fields's reviews

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