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Sharp LC-40LE820UN Review

Highs

  • Excellent video quality
  • Good onscreen menu system
  • Low energy use
  • Netflix capability

Rating

Our Score 8
User Score 10

Lows

  • Relatively expensive
  • No Wi-Fi connectivity or SD card slot
  • Remote should be better
  • Sound system just O.K.
Sharp's LED-backlit Quattron LC-40LE820UN takes its place among the best LCD televisions we've ever tested, with superior black levels, contrast and hyper-accurate colors.

Sharp LE820UN series information: The review of Sharp’s 40-inch LC-40LE820UN is based on our experience with the 46-inch LC-40LE820UN. Our observations apply to two other TVs in the LE820UN series. These are the 52-inch LC-52LE820UN and the 60-inch LC-60LE820UN. Sharps says that the LE820UN TVs have identical specifications (save dimensions and weight) and should offer similar performances.

Introduction

3D TV was all the rage for awhile this year but with a lack of movies and TV programming, it’s basically loud background noise for the near term. More important are straight-ahead HDTVs that deliver good quality video at a reasonable price. The new Sharp Quattron may not be the cheapest set on the block but what a picture! Let’s see just how good it is—and whether you should buy one.

Features and Design

The 46-inch LC-40LE820UN uses an edge-lit LED backlighting system. Because of this technology it has a very thin panel—in this case 1.6-inches thick. It may be runway-model thin but it’s still pretty hefty, weighing 52.9 pounds for the panel, 66.1 including the stand. Overall the Quattron is an attractive HDTV but without the distinctive flair of Samsung, LG or the radical monolithic styling of Sony’s new LX900 series. It has a nice silver trim around the entire screen and the clear glass accent on the bottom matches the stand. Personally we’d like the silver mount of the swivel stand to be black but that’s just us. Even though the design doesn’t make a huge statement, it’ll fit right into your home. Quattrons are available at 40-, 46-, 52- and 60-inch sizes.

Although the design story for this HDTV is nothing out of the ordinary, what helps it stand apart is Quad Pixel Technology. Rather than use standard RGB (red, green, blue) Sharp engineers added yellow (Y) to the mix. Sharp has extensive white papers on this topic so we won’t bore you. Suffice it to say, the addition of yellow widens the color gamut so you’ll see more natural images on screen. In fact, Sharp claims the panel can display a trillion colors compared to the mere billions of normal HDTVs. Personally, we didn’t care what they called it and or how many colors it was capable of creating because the picture is so good.

The front of the new HDTV has a black bezel with silver trim and just a few low-key logos. Along the lower bezel are sensors for the remote control and ambient light. Like many quality HDTVs, the Sharp adjusts brightness to match your room. This set also has a cool feature you’ll never use. When you power up there are lighted indicators for volume up/down, channel up/down, input, menu and power. These are touch screen controls and you can make those adjustments when you’re two inches away from the TV. Obviously you’ll use the remote to make these changes but it’s a nice accent.

The LC-40LE820UN has a solid complement of inputs/outputs. On the right (facing the back) are four HDMI, USB and an Ethernet connection so you can head to the ‘Net and stream Netflix movies. There are also various A/V ins/outs as well as one set of component video and an RS-232C for a laptop. It’s a solid grouping but an SDHC card slot/reader would be a good addition as would Wi-Fi connectivity. The USB input lets you play back JPEGs and MP3 files but not motion video. Too bad…

What’s In The Box

The display, stand, various screws to attach them together, a cable clamp and 68-page (in English) owner’s manual. French and Spanish versions are also in this tome. A remote and two AAAs round out the package. We keep expecting higher-quality remotes with expensive HDTVs but alas that’s not the case here—or anywhere for that matter. Sharp supplies a classic candy bar-style controller with no LCD displays. It accepts the codes of three additional devices.

Performance and Use

Initial set-up of the LC-40LE820UN is a breeze as you choose between home or store setting and go on your way. With the home option, the AV mode is set to Standard rather than Dynamic (Fixed) which will burn your eyeballs, it’s so bright. Other options include the usual such as Movie, Game, x.v. Color and User. While not an ISF or THX certified HDTV, you have loads of picture adjustments at your fingertips. We used Standard, Movie and User with tweaks during our viewing sessions. We connected a FiOS cable box and Panasonic Blu-ray player to get the festivities underway.

Football season is rocking so it was only natural to see how the set’s 120Hz frequency response handled spirals and running backs in brightly colored uniforms. The Iowa/Arizona gave the Quattron a good challenge as both teams scored about a million points. We never saw any motion blur during the contest. The same held true for sprint car racing and anything else ESPN and the various sports networks had to offer. HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” also looked terrific. Run-of-the-mill programming matched the source (some good, some bad) which is what you expect from a quality television.

The Dark Knight is still a favorite test BD disc; the Panasonic player and Sharp HDTV combined for an exhilarating experience. The blacks were very deep which creates great contrast and realistic colors. We even got really close to the screen to see if the annoying LCD screen door effect was evident—it wasn’t—so the video was very natural-looking. As noted we couldn’t count a trillion colors but what we saw was quite appealing.

Sound quality was just O.K. as it has a 10 watt x 2 speaker array with a 15-watt subwoofer. The set has an ersatz surround setting but it’s not nearly as pronounced or good as SRS TruSurround. Sharp should’ve gone for something better. In either case, this HDTV really needs a complementary sound bar or true 5.1-system to match the top-notch picture.

Conclusion

The Sharp Quattron HDTV is among the best LCD HDTVs we’ve tested. Although still not as good as a top plasma, the edge-lit LED LC-40LE820UN has good blacks, deep contrast and very accurate colors. We love the fact there is hardly any “screen door” effect and the Ethernet/Netflix capability is a plus. And don’t even think the $2,399 MSRP is anywhere near reality; we’ve seen it for between $1,300 and $1,500 at legit online retailers. That’s more than a solid 120Hz, 46/47-inch edge-lit LCD HDTV but it’s a worthwhile investment.

Highs:

  • Excellent video quality
  • Good onscreen menu system
  • Low energy use
  • Netflix capability

Lows:

  • Relatively expensive
  • No Wi-Fi connectivity or SD card slot
  • Remote should be better
  • Sound system just O.K.

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