2010 was supposed to be the year 3D HDTV took off, but pathetic software and programming line-ups threw a huge roadblock in the way of the TV industry’s plans. High prices in a recession didn’t help much either. The dearth of great mainstream 3D content hasn’t stopped manufacturers from introducing new models such as the 60-inch Sharp Aquos Quattron LC-60LE925UN. Is it worth the investment? Let’s put on some 3D glasses and find out.
The Sharp Aquos LC-60LE925UN is one big screen, making our 50-inch plasma seem almost puny. The overall design is straight forward, without Sony’s radical styling or Samsung’s touches of color – you’ll stare at a big sheet of glass when it’s off. The stand has silver accents and just like the recently reviewed LC-46LE820UN Sharp Quattron 2D model, we’d prefer a solid black one. That said, the HDTV looks good—just don’t expect any designer awards. There are a minimal number of logos and unlike the 2D Quattron there’s no silver edging on the bezel; it’s all black.
The lower bezel has a smoky glass accent for some flair—it matches the supplied stand. Here you’ll find a cool center icon that can you turn off, if it’s not appealing. There are also keys for volume/channel up/down, things you’ll never use as the remote handles everything.
Since this HDTV uses edge-lit backlighting, the main panel is very thin (1.6 inches) with an overall width of the 56.7 by 35.9 inches tall. It weighs 99.2 pounds, 122.4 with the stand. Have a friend handy to help put it into position.
There are no front inputs but on the left side are a nice complement that’ll handle almost anything you can throw at it—Ethernet, two USB (one for the supplied wireless 802.11n LAN adaptor), four HDMI and so on. On the rear are component and RS-232C ins. The only thing missing is an SD card reader or a front HDMI input.
What’s In The Very Big Carton
The panel, stand, candy-bar-style remote with batteries, owner’s manual (86 pages in English), a wireless LAN USB adaptor and two pair of active shutter 3D glasses all come with the TV. It’s nice Sharp included two pairs of glasses since many companies charge you for the privilege (around $150 for each). What’s not so nice is the remote which doesn’t have an LCD readout or main keypad backlighting. A top-of-the-line HDTV deserves better.
We really liked the 2D Sharp Quattron with its Quad Pixel technology since we enjoy strong, accurate colors. Others may scoff but we wouldn’t care what magic dust they used; they’re really good HDTVs. The 2D Quattrons feature Sharp’s new X-Gen panel and so do the 60- and 52-inch 3D editions. Company engineers added software enhancements to bump up the contrast ratio from 6 million to 8 million to one. They also help enhance brightness for the 3D video.
Initial setup of the LC-60LE925UN is a breeze. A few clicks on the remote and you’re ready to watch TV. Connecting via Wi-Fi wasn’t as easy. The manual omits the fact you need to be in TV mode to do the set-up—oops! Better fix that one fast. Beyond that it’s a basic walk through the menu and entering your security key to finish it off. Once done, we connected a Sharp BD-HP90U 3D BD player ($499) and a FiOS cable box via HDMI then settled in.
It was pretty easy discovering why 3D is just plinking along—there’s really nothing great to watch. Searching Amazon yielded little but we got our hands on “Alice in Wonderland 3D” and “The Polar Express” from the site as well as “Avatar” from Panasonic (we’re also reviewing the TC-P50GT25). At this time, if you want the Cameron disc and aren’t a Panasonic customer, expect to pay around $200-$300 on eBay! Since we’re not DirecTV customers we couldn’t watch n3D or ESPN 3D and there was zilch on cable. Dish’s Cinema on Demand—which offers 3D movies—was off the table as well. Although the Sharp connects to the web, your site options are limited (Google TV, any one?) so we couldn’t even watch the paltry few videos on the YouTube 3D Gallery which require cardboard red/cyan glasses.
Before entering the 3D CE World—actually we thought we lived in one
–2D video was first on the plate. Like any good HDTV, the Sharp has adjustments galore although it’s not THX Certified or ISF capable. We like the simplicity of THX when watching movies in a dim room but Sharp’s Auto and Movie options are decent choices. Beyond those general parameters, we turned the Optical Picture Control on (it adjusts brightness for ambient light), enabled AquoMotion 240, used the standard Film Mode (3:2 pull-down) and applied other tweaks. You can go crazy doing this but remember it’s a television, not a CyberKnife for tumor operations; relax and enjoy the experience. There are a few audio enhancements as well including a “3D Surround” which we also enabled. The set is rated 10 watts x 2 including a 15w woofer. Sound is O.K. but clearly a soundbar or 5.1-system should complement an HDTV of this level.
When we first changed inputs to see video, Starz HD appeared and the quality was outstanding. As Digital Trends readers know, plasma has been our HDTV platinum standard. With the introduction of edge-lit and full-array LED backlit LCD sets, the gap has dramatically shrunk between the technologies. Although the purist in us still places plasma black levels at the tippy top as well as overall color accuracy, HDTVs like the Quattrons, LG’s best and Toshiba Cinema Series have made it a real fight—and you’re the winner. ESPN’s Highlight Express was a good test of the AquoMotion and there were no issues with movement including football spirals and running backs dashing through snowstorms.
We put the Ironman BD disc into the player and were very impressed by the quality. Motion was well handled in the scene where Tony Stark is chased by two F-22s and the overall color was on target and comic-book vivid where necessary. HDTV and 2D BD discs out of the way, it was time to jump into the third dimension. When you load a 3D disc, a warning alerts you to the fact it’s time to put on your glasses—which we dutifully did.
A couple of things about viewing 3D at home: Sharp specifically states you should be 7 feet from the screen for the best effect with a 60-inch screen. Taking out a tape measure, that’s exactly where we sat—and dead center. Moving off angle there wasn’t a huge drop-off but don’t expect great 3D standing 6 feet to the side.
The Polar Express was first and the initial scenes are a bore with little 3D impact but that soon faded as the hero leaves home and hops on the express. The runaway train rushing downhill and sliding on the frozen lake were terrific. Animated films are O.K. but it helps to be under 10 to really enjoy them. We’re decidedly older so a combination of people and CGI—along with director Tim Burton’s genius—took 3D to another level with Alice in Wonderland. The effects were outstanding—Chessie the Cat was our favorite. Check this disc out at a local retailer to get a good sense of what home-based 3D is all about. The disc is so good, even the credits are great (3D, of course).
Next it was time to revisit Blue Land a.k.a. Pandora in Avatar 3D. We had seen it in the theater and loved the effects so this was an excellent test of 3D at home. In the confines of your living room, 7 feet away from the screen you can really see how director James Cameron spent all the money. Every scene is loaded with effects. When the shells are fired at the Tree of Answers, you instinctively duck to avoid them. Cool stuff. The Thanator chase was fun as were so many other scenes. Try to see a demo of this one too. One issue has arisen with the introduction of 3D HDTVs–ghosting or crosstalk where you see double rather than the intended effect. During almost 6 hours of viewing we saw little of it but with Avatar there was some especially as Jake and Neytiri romp through the Day-Glo forest with branches in the foreground. There goes the Editor’s Choice rating…
The LC-60LE925UN also converts 2D video to 3D. In theory this would give you tons to watch but without creative Hollywood directors like Cameron and Burton, you just get a sense of depth, nothing that really adds to the storyline. It’s fun trying out but don’t get your hopes up.
We tried adding a little of our own content by viewing 3D stills taken with a FujiFilm Real 3D W3 still camera. Effects were O.K.—nothing more. We know for a fact many manufacturers will introduce 3D camcorders and still cameras at the January Consumer Electronics Show but NDAs signing away the house and family prevent us from saying more. Come to the site January 6th for more details.
We’ve seen the Sharp Quattron LC-60LE925UN for around $3,500 at legit dealers—and the price is falling fast; the 3D BD player costs $260 or so. Sony has a 60-inch 3D LCD Bravia for slightly more while Panasonic’s 58-inch TC-P58VT25 plasma 3D set is less at around $3,000 when you add the glasses; Samsung’s 58-inch plasma is also near $3K. Basically you’re looking at a price premium for this HDTV. With that on the table, we suggest you wait for the price to come down and the amount of 3D content to go up. 3D at home certainly doesn’t match the hype—nothing could–but it’s good nonetheless. And 2D high-def material—which you’ll watch most of the time—is top notch.
- Outstanding 2D playback
- Very good 3D effects
- Supplied Wi-Fi adaptor (for NetFlix, vudu)
- Two pair of glasses supplied
- Remote should be better (as always)
- No SD card slot or front HDMI connection