Sharp has earned a reputation as an LCD manufacturer par excellence, but in the past you had to pay top dollar for its products. However, its latest 19in screen, the LL-193G, signals that Sharp is dropping the price without dropping the quality. This superb flat-panel is worth the PC Advisor Gold award. The £280 price tag is frankly astonishing. Even a low-priced 19in model like the LaCie Photon19vision costs £323, and Sharp's 17in LL-173G isn't much less at £244.
So is Sharp compromising on image quality? Well, the LL-193G's specifications suggest otherwise. The contrast ratio (an indication of colour depth) is a generous 600:1, giving it a sizeable advantage over the likes of the ViewSonic VX924 and LaCie Photon19vision (550:1 and 400:1 respectively). The viewing angles are vast, and while the brightness rating isn't the greatest ever, 230 cd/m2 should be more than enough.
In practice, the Sharp's image quality is very good at both 1,024x768 and at its native resolution of 1,280x1,024. We're not saying that this is the pinnacle of flat-panel excellence, but colours are deep and rich, character definition is relatively sharp, and the picture is eye-catching.
Not that the Sharp is ideally suited to all tasks. The response rate is a mere 18ms, which won't sit well with games players - if you need to frequently use the screen for fast-moving images, you'd be better off saving up for the silky smooth ViewSonic VX924 or waiting for the (presumably) more expensive Sharp LL-193A.
However, office workers will enjoy the Sharp's range of colour modes - you can easily dim the brightness when you need to indulge in a spot of word processing. And for those looking to maximise desk space, the built-in speakers should appeal.