Sharp Aquos Quattron LC-70LE732U Review

Sharp Aquos Quattron LC-70LE732U front display off

Sharp Aquos Quattron LC-70LE732U

“Sharp’s 70LE732U achieves the wall-devouring size of a projector with the convenience, image quality and daylight-defying brightness of an LED TV, for a lot less than you might expect.”
  • Largest consumer LCD available
  • Vibrant Quattron X-gen panel, LED backlighting
  • Built-in Netflix, Vudu, Napster, other apps
  • Clean, intuitive menu system and remote
  • Surprisingly affordable for its size
  • Better-than-average sound
  • Interactive apps feel sluggish, limited selection
  • Some “blotches” visible with solid colors, panning
  • Screen lag outside gaming mode
  • Basic remote with no backlight

Sharp Aquos Quattron 732U series information: This review is based on our hands-on experience with the LC-70LE732U TV. However, two other models in Sharp’s line-up, the The LC-70LE733U and LC-70LE734U, are very similarly featured and should offer very similar picture quality. The most notable difference between our review sample and the other two models is that our sample had a native refresh rate of 120hz whereas the 733U and 734U are both capable of a 240hz refresh rate. There are also some minor cosmetic differences as well.

Open your windows and tear down the blackout curtains: Projectors aren’t the only rational option for supersized home theater screens anymore. Sharp hasn’t set any size records or smashed through any previously unimaginable engineering feats with its Quattron LC-70LE732U, but at $3,799 for a screen big enough to look like you can walk through it, the company has broken down some serious price barriers. We gave Sharp’s latest supersized consumer set a run through to see whether a tarp-sized TV for under $4,000 is a gimmick or a bargain.

Sharp Aquos Quattron LC-70LE732U right sideFeatures and design

If you’re interested in the Quattron LC-70LE732U, we’re guessing you’re interested a lot more in that 70 at the beginning of the model name than whatever “LE732U” designates, so let’s get this out of the way: It’s huge. Monstrously huge. Wall-dominatingly huge. Impractical for all but the largest rooms huge — but you knew that.

Seventy inches (technically 69.5) may seem reasonably close to the also-large screen area you get with a 55-inch model, but remember that every extra diagonal inch buys you exponentially more total screen real estate as you go. As a result, the 70-inch Quattron actually has 62 percent more screen area than a 55-inch model. We’ll let you witness it at a retailer for yourself, but suffice it to say, that’s massive.

As for that LE732U designation, it carries with it most of the niceties you would expect from a top-tier TV, short of 3D capability. That means Sharp’s Quattron panel with an extra yellow pixel for a wider color gamut, full-array LED backlighting, 1080p resolution, built-in Wi-Fi and a whole suite of apps including staples like Netflix, and Sharp exclusives like Aquos Live Advantage, which lets technicians tinker with your TV from afar, without ever setting a greasy boot on your carpet. Keep in mind, though, that a number of premium differences still exist between the LE732U and Sharp’s flagship 925U, which we’ll get to as we move on.

Setup

Unless you hire a few brutes from the local big box store to handle your Quattron, be prepared for some heavy-duty lifting, and bring a friend. The portly 70LE732U weighs in at just shy of 100 pounds with the included stand. Fortunately, getting it vertical is mostly as easy as dropping into L-shaped brackets that slide into a notch in the bottom and tightening a few screws. Sharp must know what’s good for the feeble drywall in your media room because there’s no VESA bracket for wall mounting — this guy needs to sit down on something.

Design

The size of this TV does the talking for it, even when it’s off. Unlike some of the more adventurous designs Sharp has pursued on some of its flagship TVs, the first 70-inch Quattron keeps things pretty mundane: The display is edged by an inch-wide, gloss-black bezel. Along the bottom edge, a slight chin and light-up chevron give it a bit more flair, but not enough to distract from the 70-inch main attraction. The stand is about as plain as they come: square, gloss black, and with zero swiveling or reclining capability.

The entire TV measures 3.5 inches deep at its thickest point (in the center), but it gives the illusion of looking much thinner thanks to a generously tapered design that keeps the bulk away from where you can see it (and there’s plenty of room to hide it on a TV this big). The visible edges measure only about 1.25 inches thick.

Sharp Aquos Quattron LC-70LE732U inputsConnections

Following the trend away from legacy ports we see every year, Sharp’s 70-inch Quattron offers only a few mandatory analog connections in favor of mostly HDMI ports — four to be exact. We can’t really complain; if you’re buying a 70-inch, $3,799 TV to hook up a VCR to it with composite cables, you have a problem with priorities.

All four of the HDMI ports point out sideways from a plastic plateau on the back of the TV, about six inches back from the edge of the left-hand bezel. This design makes it easy to connect them, but also leaves enough room to arc the cables out of the way so your TV doesn’t appear to be vomiting wires out the side after you connect up all your equipment. You’ll also find a USB port and 3.5mm audio output on the same ledge.

Further back, Sharp includes a VGA port, two stripes of composite A/V jacks, a single component video array, another USB port, the Ethernet jack, and less frequently used options like digital audio output, 3.5mm audio input, and RS-232C. The right side of the TV is barren, save for the standard slate of hard controls that peek out at the edge.

Performance

If there’s one thing you’ll notice about the display before even powering up this Quattron, its that it throws a fair bit of light around even when it’s off — for a “matte” screen, it actually has quite a sheen. From 15 feet away, you’ll easily see yourself seated, even if it’s not quite the mirror-like reflection of a pure glossy screen. That said, the potent LED backlight seems to have no problem overcoming daylight, and we never had much of a problem seeing the screen, even during afternoon viewing sessions in a room with a wall full of windows.

The X-Gen panel in the Sharp LC70LE732U boasts a response time of 4ms and a dynamic contrast ratio of 6,000,000:1. That’s a bit short of the 8,000,000:1 Sharp claims for the panel in its top-tier LE835 series — according to Sharp, due to the lack of a high-performance polarizing filter. While black levels and peak brightness don’t match the “pop” of the best plasmas and top-tier LED TVs, the 70LE732U delivers a superb image that will impress viewers based on far more than size alone.

Sharp Aquos Quattron LC-70LE732U display performance

The Quattron comes quite neutral out of the box in its Auto setting, requiring minimal calibration to bring out a natural, balanced picture. We were quick to set the image mode to “dot by dot” since the default “stretch” mode trims out a rather severe 10 percent of the image through overscan.

Sharp’s “fourth pixel” may be a bit of a marketing stunt, but make no mistake: Yellows have a rich, vibrant look that you seldom see in competing LCDs, even if it sometimes takes the right source material to coax it out. We weren’t as pleased with blues, which seemed to lack the same radiance. Our RGB gamma tests seemed to confirm this impression to some degree: the blue spectrum looked smeared together rather than graduated in clear bands, and the TV seemed to have trouble reproducing the darkest blue hues without crushing them to black.

The biggest problem we expected to see in a 70-inch screen was simply pixelation: Screen sizes get bigger and bigger, but 1080p is still 1080p, and many sources don’t even reach that standard. Thanks to some very competent on-board silicon, you don’t need a $3,000 Blu-ray library to enjoy the LE732U. The TV’s built-in scaling for lower resolution videos was top notch. Even standard-def Netflix movies streaming over Wi-Fi looked surprisingly presentable at a size when every artifact and glitch is typically easy to spot. Low-quality 70s B movies (dredged up and mercilessly mocked courtesy of Mystery Science Theater 3,000) looked surprisingly watchable plastered across 70 inches. Sharp would probably credit Quad Pixel Plus, which uses all four subpixels to attempt to smoother lines, but we noticed no discernible difference in A-B comparisons.

The LE732U has two motion-smoothing options: Motion Enhancement and Cinema Mode. Even on high, Motion Enhancement rarely induces unnatural motion, and significantly improved performance in our tests with panning content. Cinema Mode, however, quickly makes characters look like they’re floating around on their feet as they glide around rooms in soap opera style. We found it usable on Standard mode, but overbearing with anything stronger.

Sharp Aquos Quattron LC-70LE732U back

As a result of all this processing magic, the LE732U suffers from one pesky problem for gamers and HTPC users: lag time. When using a mouse or controller with the TV, there’s a significant lag between input and the actual display. Sharp addresses this with “Vyper Drive” to reduce the delay between input and response. It works. Engaging Vyper Driver took the delay from obnoxious and bordering on unusable to completely imperceptible. Trouble is, it’s only available by switching to gaming mode, not as an independent setting you can enable from any other mode. Because it works by paring out video processing, settings like Motion Enhancement and Cinema Mode also become unavailable.

During steady pans, the 70LE732U did exhibit a subtle “dirty screen effect.” These cloudy patches on the LCD are imperceptible under normal use, but become apparent with giant patches of solid color, which can look blotchy, or steady panning, in which the image seems to be moving beneath an ever-so-slightly dirty window. We’re not surprised to see these almost-unnoticeable inconsistencies on a 70-inch behemoth, but let’s not overstate their significance: Only the most determinedly stubborn videophiles will even notice what subtle effect they have.

Remote and interface

In contrast to the size of the TV, Sharp’s remote is surprisingly compact — tall but unusually slender and lightweight, like a cedar roofing shingle. We prefer the vanilla look and feel to some of the more outrageous attempts to stand out, but it doesn’t exactly carry the gravitas of a $3,799 TV, either. The uniformly rectangular keys, limited color and lack of backlight can also make it tough to discern what you’re pressing in less-than-ideal lighting. Fortunately, commonly used functions like Aquos Net, Apps and Menu have distinct, dedicated buttons in prime thumbing turf, right above the directional pad.

Sharp Aquos Quattron LC-70LE732U remoteThe menu system on the LE732U is about as clean as they come: big menu categories across a stripe on the top, the fine-tuning options these categories contain running down a column on the right. Options like brightness and contrast can be adjusted with the menu pane open, or you can click enter on them to bring the video playback to full size and see the effects of tweaks in real time. Sharp even includes the full TV manual as an on-screen option — a boon for the environmentally conscious or just terminally lazy.

Connected features

The LE732U comes with a variety of Internet-connected apps, including Netflix, Blockbuster, Vudu and Aquos Net, which is really a portal to a number of other services, like WeatherBug, news clips from MSNBC, and Twitter. Filing some services under other services (like Pandora under Vudu Apps) helps make the menu less cluttered, but can also make it more difficult to find services off the bat.

In general, the app interfaces are clean and easy to use. Netflix, in particular, has an up-to-date interface that includes searching, a feature many Netflix boxes still miss. Speed, however, is not really this set’s forte. Moving from selection to selection on different app menus follows a second or so behind your thumbs, and Aquos Net in particular seems to take a long time to boot up — nearly 10 seconds for what amounts to a glorified iGoogle page. Perhaps more frustrating, if you come to rely on these apps, is the roughly 30-second delay from turning the TV on to having connected Wi-Fi, during which time connected apps are worthless.

Sound

Chances are, if you’re in the market for a $3,799 TV, you have a home theater system to hook it up to. Which makes it surprising, to us at least, that the LE732U actually delivers shockingly good sound, provided you’re not looking for the kick-in-the-pants bass that should really accompany movies on a 70-inch TV. Midrange and treble from the down-firing speakers are respectable right up to max volume, providing all the oomph you really need for dialogue-driven television shows, even if Transformers 2 and Napster will ultimately have you hunting for a pair of tower speakers.

The sound menu includes adjustments for treble, bass, and balance, although playing with the bass slider is an exercise in futility.

Conclusion

Who needs a projector, again? Sharp’s 70LE732U achieves the wall-devouring size of a projector with the convenience, image quality and daylight-defying brightness of an LED TV, for a lot less than you might expect. While its image quality won’t oust the best in the biz and its connectivity options are a little sparser than we would like, we’re shocked to find ourselves describing a TV this size as… well, practical. None of Sharp’s competitors make LCDs this big, and the ones that come closest actually cost more — $4,4999 for 65-inch models from Toshiba, LG and Panasonic. Granted, those models pack more features — like 3D — but if you’re not sold on ninja stars flying out of your TV at you and would rather soak in content as big as your eyes can handle it, Sharp’s 70LE732U may be a winning proposition

Highs:

  • Largest consumer LCD available
  • Vibrant Quattron X-gen panel, LED backlighting
  • Built-in Netflix, Vudu, Napster, other apps
  • Clean, intuitive menu system and remote
  • Surprisingly affordable for its size
  • Better-than-average sound

Lows:

  • Interactive apps feel sluggish, limited selection
  • Some “blotches” visible with solid colors, panning
  • Screen lag outside gaming mode
  • Basic remote with no backlight

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