I've had the 60" Sharp Elite for about a week now. I didn't want to mention anything until I had more time under my belt and the 'honeymoon period' was over. For me the honeymoon period lasts a few days.
So to some degree my viewpoints are a bit unique in that I've owned the 929 and now the Elite. I have no bias toward either unit, and as a videophile I simply want the best picture available. So with that said, here's my take on how these two sets stack up:Aesthetics
- I'm not sure why I'm even mentioning this since it is so subjective, but I thought some might be curious. I would give the edge to the 929 and it's monolithic design. However I will say the Sharp is better looking than I thought it would be. It's no slouch in the design department and refraining from the use of a glossy bezel didn't hurt it in the aesthetics department.Screen Glare
- Yeah, it's there, and it's somewhat worse on the Elite. I see more reflections in the screen than I did with the 929. It makes me more aware of point sources of light and the need to squelch those areas by pulling shades etc. That's not to say the 929 was devoid of them either, but it wasn't quite as bad.Screen Size
- I do appreciate the extra 5" and even that difference creates a more engaging experience. My wife was initially opposed to the larger display thinking it might overpower the room. I told her if it really looked too big for the area, I would have it wall-mounted. That made her happy. But I tried an interesting experiment, that wound up being pretty funny. She had no idea I actually decided to get the Elite and once it was delivered and set up I said nothing. She came home that day, walked past the display and later, while I was watching, never noticed a new set was there (even when I asked her what she thought about a given scene)! Halos
- This is one of the biggest disparities in the actual performance between the two. The Elite is unquestionably much better controlled in this area. Viewed on-axis there are virtually no halos on any material, at any time. Even bright, blazing channel logos show almost no halos. This was one area where even on-axis I could seen some halos on the 929. Off-axis the Elite is again more controlled than the 929 and its immunity to this spreads over a greater off-axis area.DSE
- This was probably the single greatest annoyance for me with the 929. Not a deal-break by any means, but an annoyance. I am probably more sensitive to this than many, but I see it in varying degrees on every flat panel I've seen...including my Pioneer Pro 151. On the 929, it was quite obvious on a full field white screen and, as expected, during camera pans with sports broadcasts. The Elite has far less of it, but I can still see it and it's certainly not perfect. Interestingly, a full white screen on the Elite shows amazing uniformity, but this does not necessarily translate to immunity in the area of DSE. I don't know how much sample to sample variation there is in this regard, but I can tell you my friend's 55" 929 exhibited less DSE and better white field uniformity than mine.Color
- This is a tough one and keep in mind that neither display was ISF'd. I used the 'eyeball approach' (I've got a good eye for color) and did the best I could with both the color temperature control & CMS controls on the Elite while using my ISF'd Pro 151 as a 'reference'. On the 929, with fewer controls at my disposal, I used only the color temperature controls with the 151 again my reference. The Sony was set to Warm 2 and the Elite to both "THX Movie" as well as "Movie".
From what I've seen, the color is really close on both with a slight edge to blue rendition on the Elite. To my eyes it only seemed that blue deviated to any degree on the 929. I suspect the Elite will calibrate better than the 929 based on nothing more than the myriad of controls available. I'm not sure what calibration controls are available to the ISF techs via the service menu on the 929, but the Elite probably requires no delving into a service menu.
One thing I did notice (that made me question about the yellow sub-pixel controversy) was the hyped nature of yellows before I touched that up.
Yellows are beautiful to look at on the uncalibrated Elite, but they really are a 'bit much' and make me think that even in THX mode they're doing their thing. Once tamed, they look accurate to me. There's no doubt in my mind that I'll still benefit from an ISF calibration.Black Levels
- Without question, neither of these displays are a slouch in this department and both are fully capable of the much sought after 'inky blacks' that make a picture pop so much. With that said, I'd again give the edge to the Elite, but that's only visible in some scenes and will generally go totally unnoticed IMO. But I'd still label the Elite as the 'ultimate in black levels' with the 929 a close, really close 2nd.Viewing Angles
- I have to say this one was my biggest surprises and it may be due to the relatively small room it's been placed in. I saw little to no difference in viewing angle between these two great displays. I was really expecting a significant increase in viewing angle, but I haven't seen it. YMMV depending on the room it's placed in and I'd have to guess the edge goes to the Elite (based on all the comments I've seen) in a more spacious environment. To be fair, for reasons I can't explain, it seemed my viewing angle increased over time with the 929, so it's possible my perception of this may change with the Elite over time.Motion Handling
- I'm having a hard time with this one. Without viewing the same material at the same time, it's really hard to remember precisely how the 929 handled a given scene. Both are very good and I'm reluctant to say which seems to handle this better.3D
- I had forgotten to mention this (thanks Suzook) and it's probably because 3D is not a big deal to me. But with that said, 3D was actually one of the more significant differences I saw. The 929's 3D was very good, but prone at times to ghosting. That could be annoying for some. The Elite, using the same disc, showed absolutely no ghosting whatsoever. Pretty impressive...too bad I'm not a big fan! Overall value
- Only the prospective buyer can answer that question. On a pure 'picture quality per dollar' perspective, I'd have to give the edge to the Sony. How could you not? If the 'value proposition' turns to pure picture quality and squeezing that last whatever % improvement, the edge goes to the Elite IMO...as long as you're willing to spend the extra bucks. Both are fantastic displays and it's hard to envision many being disappointed with either...yes, even die-hard plasma lovers like me.
Just as a final thought, I seem to be watching my 151 very little these days. Watching the U.S. Open over the weekend, there was no escaping that the picture on the Elite was much more engaging and looked far more like an outdoor, sunny event. The ability to ramp up whites while still maintaining amazing black levels, creates a picture that just explodes off the screen. That's true with either the 929 or the Elite.
I have to thank Robert @VE for his support through this 'display adventure'.