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The Sharp LC-40LE700UN ($1399 MSRP) is a solid performer, but its internet features are pretty sparse compared to its competitors. This slightly older model is perhaps best thought of as a prequel to the streaming content age of TV.
Tour & Design
The front of the Sharp LC-40LE700UN is a relatively attractive TV from the front. The bezel is made of a shiny, black plastic, common on TVs. The lower lip curves out towards the viewer with a purplish, mirror finish. There are a few indicator lights on the lip, as well as the IR receiver for the remote control. That blue triangle you see above the Sharp logo can be turned on and off.
The back of the Sharp LC-40LE700UN is large and plain. The ports are all grouped together in one corner, just around from the side ports. For information about the ports on the back of the Sharp LC-40LE700UN see our Connectivity section. Unfortunately, the base does not swivel, but the TV is so lightweight, it's fairly easy to pick up and move yourself.
From the side, you can see that the Sharp LC-40LE700UN is not the thinnest TV, but it's not really vying to be a contender in that 'ultraslim' category, anyway. All the onboard controls and some of the ports are located along the right side. For information about the ports on the sides of the Sharp LC-40LE700UN see our Connectivity section.
The stand is a big hunk of black plastic. It's not particularly subtle, or pretty, and it doesn't allow the TV to swivel, either. The nicest thing we can say about it is that it feels adequately secure.
The onboard controls are located on the right side of the TV, alongside some of the ports. The buttons are large enough and spaced adequately apart that it's easy to control basic functionality without even looking.
The remote control for the Sharp LC-40LE700UN is pretty good. It's not a beautiful remote to look at, but it gets the job done. The only part that concerns us is the flip-out bottom portion. Moving parts break first, and if you drop this remote enough times, the hinges are bound to crack.
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN comes with the remote control, batteries, the stand, an instruction manual, and a power cord. That's the bare minimum you could expect, and it's all you get.
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN is not a bad looking TV, but it's certainly not chic. The piano black finish is pretty standard for flat panel TVs, and the glossy purple lip along the bottom edge is Sharp's attempt at safely setting themselves apart from the competition. The only notable aesthetic deterrent is the illuminated blue triangle below the company logo. Fortunately, there's an option to turn that off in the menu.
Blacks & Whites
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN performed adequately in the black level test, which tests how deep a TV is able get its blacks. As you can see from the chart below, the Samsung UN40B650 is the best of the bunch. The Sony KDL-40NX700 was not quite as good, and the Sharp LC-40LE700UN was trailing behind the Sony. (More on how we test Black Level.)
Note that there are some settings on the Sharp LC-40LE700UN that allow the black levels to get darker, but those settings may adversely affect other aspects of the picture quality.
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN had a surprisingly dark picture, considering how big a deal Sharp makes about the 'UltraBrilliant LED System.' The company claims a brightness of up to 450cd/m2. In stark contrast, we measured a brightness of only 188cd/m2 after our calibration procedures. Even with all the settings tweaked in favor of brightness, we couldn't get it much brighter than this. (More on how we test Peak Brightness.)
By comparison, the three competing TVs were much, much brighter.
The contrast ratio of the Sharp LC-40LE700UN was dampened somewhat by the low peak brightness test. However, the 1257:1 performance was not too bad. Certainly, the Samsung UN40B650 and Sony KDL-40NX700 did better, but the Sharp still came out ahead of the Vizio. (More on how we test Contrast.)
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN performed well in the tunnel contrast test, which means you can expect a consistent black level regardless of how much shadow is on the screen. (More on how we test Tunnel Contrast.)
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN also did well in the white falloff test, which means the white levels remain consistent regardless of what's on the screen. (More on how we test White Falloff.)
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN's screen showed an excellent uniformity. When an all-white display was viewed, we couldn't see any problems – just a smooth, flat white expanse. With an all-black screen, we frequently see blotches of pale white, or flashlighting in the corners. Fortunately, there were none to be seen on the LC-40LE700UN. (More on how we test Uniformity.)
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN showed a decent, but far from spectacular, performance in the greyscale gamma test. The graph below lays out the story. That flatter area of the curve on the left side, those are the shadows. Ideally, this would be a steady slope upwards. The flatness of it indicates that the LC-40LE700UN is losing detail in the shadows. The rest of the curve is fine, though it doesn't have the ideal slope. We're looking for a curve of 2.1 to 2.2. The slope of 2.88 is a bit steep. (More on how we test Greyscale Gamma.)
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN performed very well in the color temperature test, which measures how well the TV was able to maintain a consistent color temperature. Only when the signal intensity gets very low do the whites warm up a bit. (More on how we test Color Temperature.)
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN's RGB color curves were good. The graph below, ideally, should be perfectly smooth. Those little bumps show instances where you could expect some minor color banding. The horizontal bit at the end of the blue line is the blue channel peaking out, which means you'll get no detail in the extreme highlights. (More on how we test RGB Curves.)
The strips below are digital recreations of the color curves above. Note the relationship between highlights, midtones, and shadows among each TV.
The KDL-46NX700 matched fairly well with the rec. 709 color standards. The green was nearly perfect, and the red was only a little undersaturated. The blue point was the furthest off the mark. The white point – the circle in the center – was also a bit off the mark. (More on how we test Color Gamut.)
The table below is a numerical explanation of the graph above.
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN produced very smooth motion in our lab tests. The TV was able to maintain a good level of fine detail, and even high contrast areas retained a relatively crisp separation. (More on how we test Motion.)
The Fine Motion Enhanced feature, located in the Advanced picture menu, offered some limited ability to increase the motion smoothness even more. The effect was best seen in the fine details of fast moving objects. Objects moving at more moderate paces, even basketball players jogging down the court, showed no noticeable improvements.
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN managed to stave off a lot of the artifacting that we see from other TVs in our motion tests. We were particularly pleased to see that high frequency black & white patterns moving at a fast clip across the screen did not create any false coloration – something we see too frequently. Granted, there were definitely instances where the processing couldn't keep up, resulting in trails, especially in areas of high contrast. This is normal for most TVs, though, and in everyday viewing may not be a serious problem.
The Fine Motion Enhanced feature specific to the Sharp seemed to have no noticeable effect on motion artifacting.
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN supports 3:2 pulldown and 24fps playback. We noticed some stuttering in scenes that should have had smooth panning, so the TV's processing isn't quite perfect. (More on how we test 3:2 Pulldown and 24fps.)
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN is a native 1080p display, but a lot of the video you throw at it is going to be of a lesser resolution. We check how different resolutions look on the Sharp, detailed below. Overall, theLC-40LE700UN performed very well. ( More on how we test Resolution Scaling.)
The 480p video displayed on the Sharp LC-40LE700UN was actually the worst of the bunch. We saw a 2% overscan, which means that 2% of the image was cut off from the top, bottom, and sides. We also noticed some legibility issues with fine text.
The 720p video was nearly perfectly upscaled by the Sharp's processing. We saw no noticeable issues.
The 1080i video also looked nearly perfect. Good job, Sharp.
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN can display all the major formats, including 480p, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p.
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN's viewing angle is rather good, for an LCD television. Our lab test showed that the viewing angle is approximately 55 degrees in total (or 28 degrees from center on either side). As you can see from the chart below, the average of the other LCD TVs was significantly narrower. However, plasma TVs still put these scores to shame, ranging as wide as 80 degrees. (More on how we test Viewing Angle.)
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN manages to stave off excessive reflection fairly well. Like most TVs, there's some engineering magic that takes incoming light and tries to make it as inconspicuous as possible. If the light is coming in at angle, there's virtually no glare. Fortunately, most lights will come in at an angle. In the rarer instances where the light is hitting the screen dead-on, the reflection is huge and distracting. A 4-way burst pattern that shoots out across the length and breadth of the screen. (More on how we test Reflectance.)
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN has a number of video processing features, which are detailed below. Overall, the features do some good. It's a welcome relief from many TVs, which include numerous features about as useful as suitcases full of bricks.
Your TV isn't going to come out of the box optimized for your viewing environment. Since this is the case, we make sure to calibrate the TV before we run any of our tests on it. The calibration settings we settled on are listed below.
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN has no video modes. Normally, a TV has options like Video mode, Sports mode, Vivid mode, etc. Rather, the Sharp LC-40LE700UN has a lot of fine detail settings. This is great, but may go over the heads of some casual owners.
The remote control that ships with the Sharp LC-40LE700UN is not the most eye-catching design, but it functions well enough. In fact, the best looking remotes are rarely the easiest to use. The most notable aspect of this remote is how far apart the buttons are. There's no way to hold it and access the power button, 0-9 numeric buttons, and menu navigation buttons without shifting your grip a few times.
The buttons themselves are small, but have a good feel to them. After a few minutes, it's fairly easy to perform basic functions without looking.
The only strange part of the remote is the flip-out bottom, which contains seven buttons. Why Sharp didn't just put these at the bottom of the remote without this hinged door nonsense is beyond us.
The buttons are arranged according to function. At the top are the playback controls for player-type devices (DVD, Blu-Ray, VCR, etc.), none of which have anything to do with the TV itself. Below that are the numeric buttons, then the channel up/down and volume up/down buttons, then the directional buttons for the menu navigation. It seems like a sensible design, overall, as it passed the 'no-look' test pretty quickly.
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN remote can be programmed for use with dozens of other electronic devices. All the necessary codes are in the instruction manual.
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN has all the ports you need to get your home theater system in working order. Like most HDTVs, there are 4 HDMIs: one located on the side, the other 3 in the back. For legacy connections, you'll find 2 components, 2 composites, and an S-Video. There's also a VGA for computer input, and an RS-232C – not something you see too often on TVs. The RS-232C allows, among other things, certain types of calibration equipment better access to the TV's settings.
For multimedia, you'll find an ethernet port on the back and a USB port on the side.
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN has two output ports, an analog audio out and a digital audio out. We suppose you could also count the RS-232C, which moves data in both directions.
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN has an ethernet port for connecting to its limited set of internet features.
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN has a USB port, that allows for photo and music playback.
The ports are spread along the side and back of the Sharp LC-40LE700UN. The base does not swivel, it's quite easy to access what you need.
Audio & Menus
The built-in speakers on the Sharp LC-40LE700UN are hardly comparable to a 5.1 surround sound system, but it sounds decent for a moderately priced television. The most winning element is the clear voice detail, which frequently gets muddied in other TVs. The bass is lacking, but there's no trace of a rattle – another problem common in TVs.
There is, of course, a simulated surround sound effect. While it does seem to slightly enhance the stereophonic feel, it has the side effect of muddying the dialogue.
The menu on the Sharp LC-40LE700UN is ugly and confusing. There, we said it. Why pull punches?
Granted, it's not completely bewildering, but we can easily imagine the frustration this would cause someone who isn't comfortable with TV menus. The top-level interaction is pretty straightforward. When you push the menu button, a horizontal bar appears along the top with the main sub-headers: Picture, Audio, Power Control, Setup, Option, and Digital Setup. As you scroll through, the little sub-menus pop up underneath them. Relatively simple, yes?
The trouble is when you have to enter a sub-submenu. Take, for instance, the Advanced menu (listed under Picture). Many of the features have a on/off setting, but you can hardly tell which is which. Is 'off' dark grey-blue or light grey-blue? Couldn't they be yellow and grey, or green and grey—anything with some contrast. Instead, you have to painstakingly go through each setting manually confirm that you have the settings you want.
The instruction manual for the Sharp LC-40LE700UN offers a fair amount of detail about the TV's features, but finding those descriptions can be difficult. The table of contents is useful, but an index in the back would be greatly appreciated.
The remote control can be programmed for use with other devices, so you'll find all the necessary codes in the manual, as well. You can find the Sharp LC-40LE700UN's manual online here.
Multimedia & Internet
The internet features on the Sharp LC-40LE700UN are shockingly poor, compared to Sony, Panasonic, and Samsung. While Sony has a huge lead (over 30 streaming video and music channels), Panasonic and Samsung are trailing, but still include YouTube and a smattering of other video services and games. The Sharp's 'Aquos Network,' by stark contrast, includes weather, a stock ticker, traffic reports, and... oh! What's this? Access Hollywood, NBC Sports, and MSNBC.com? Great, we love watching clips from those... oh, wait. There's no video, just headlines and 1-2 sentence summaries of new items. It would be faster, cheaper, and more informative to go down the street and buy a newspaper than use these apps.
The TV also includes Twitter and Picasa, but the interface is awkward and laggy. Better to just use your laptop while you're sitting in front of the TV.
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN can display photos from the USB port. Load them up onto a thumb drive, and you're good to go. You can select photos or folders for a slideshow, choose the speed of the show, and the orientation of the photos. There's also an option to add background music, provided the audio clips are on the same drive.
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN can play back MP3s audio files via the USB port, but not video clips. The interface is simple to understand, and you can use these audio clips as background music for photo slideshows.
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN does not support any other type of media.
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN is a modest little energy eater. With the backlit turned all the way up (the recommended setting for our calibration), it consumed an average of 96.6 watts. With the backlight all the way down, it required only 40.85 watts. In real dollar terms, see the charts below. (More on how we test Power Consumption.)
Vs Sony KDL 40NX700
Value Comparison Summary
The Sony KDL-40NX700 is an excellent television. It's cleaner looking design than the Sharp LC-40LE700UN, and the streaming content features are vastly better. The WiFi connection makes connecting to your local network that much easier. Dollar for dollar, it's a much better television. The Sharp should be purchased over the Sony only if you find a great bargain.
Blacks & Whites
The black levels and peak brightness were both better on the Sony KDL-40NX700, creating a much wider contrast ratio than the Sharp LC-40LE700UN. The difference in brightness levels, in particular, is a easy to spot. Most people would pick the Sony in a side-by-side match up.
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN and Sony KDL-40NX700 both have a solid color temperature consistency. The Sharp took a bit of a nosedive when the signal got very low, but it would be hard for the average viewer to spot a problem with either of these TVs. The RGB color curve tests were also both good.
The motion performance of both TVs was rather good, though we saw a slight advantage in the Sharp LC-40LE700UN, due to less artifacting.
The viewing angle on the Sharp LC-40LE700UN was wider than the Sony KDL-40NX700 – in fact, the Sharp was wider than any of the TVs in this little pool of comparisons. It measured 55 degrees, while the Sony measured 40 degrees.
The Sony and the Sharp have different strengths when it comes to connectivity. The Sharp offers more legacy ports – composite, component, and S-Video – while the Sony take a forward-looking approach with built-in WiFi. It all depends on what you need for your particular set-up.
Vs Samsung LN40B650
Value Comparison Summary
The Samsung UN40B650 was one of our better contenders in 2009, based on solid performance numbers and a reasonable price. While it has no internet connection, the streaming content offerings from Sharp are hardly worth consideration. Considering the price difference, the Samsung is the better buy.
Blacks & Whites
The Samsung UN40B650 showed the best black level and second-best peak brightness performance in our comparison pool. With a lab-tested contrast ratio of 5226:1, that's among the best scores we're seen in a 40-inch TV. The Sharp was no slouch, but it couldn't match up.
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN managed to outperform the Samsung UN46B650 by a little in maintaining a consistent color temperature. You can see from the charts below that the Samsung had a penchant for warming at a few points in the signal intensity range.
The RGB color curve performances were much closer. Both TVs should produce smooth, satisfactory color gradations.
The Samsung UN40B650 showed good smoothness of motion, but we noticed a lot of artifacting. The Sharp LC-40LE700UN, on the other hand, had very little artifacting, and with the addition of features like 'Fine Motion Enhanced,' even further improvement (thought subtle) could be had.
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN had a much wider viewing angle than the Samsung UN40B650 – 55 degrees versus 39 degrees from the Samsung.
The Samsung UN40B650 is more or less matched with the Sharp LC-40LE700UN in terms of connectivity. Both have 4 HDMIs, while the Sharp has one additional composite and an S-video. The Samsung lacks the internet connectivity of the Sharp, but Sharp hardly makes use of it, so it's a draw.
Vs Vizio VL420M
Value Comparison Summary
The Vizio VL420M is two inches wider and a lot cheaper. If that's enough for you, go ahead and buy it. However, the Sharp LC-40LE700UN is a better performer, overall. We'd recommend the Sharp, based on our findings, though it would be worthwhile to try and find it for a lower price.
Blacks & Whites
The Vizio VL420M was the poorest performer in our black level tests, though the peak brightness was adequate. Nevertheless, all the TVs in this comparison pool had a better contrast ratio.
The Vizio VL420M and the Sharp LC-40LE700UN both fail to maintain a consistent color temperature, though the Vizio's failings take place over a wider range, which resulted in a lower score. The Sharp also outperformed the Vizio in our RGB color curve test, meaning you can expect smoother color gradations.
Both TVs performed fairly well in our motion tests.
The Vizio VL420M had the narrowest viewing angle of the TVs in this comparison pool, though it only trailed the Samsung UN46B650 and Sony KDL-40NX700 by a little. TheSharp LC-40LE700UN was bay far the best performer here.
The Sharp LC-40LE700UN and Vizio VL420M are pretty evenly matched in terms of connectivity. The Sharp has the added bonus of an ethernet port, but it fails to make good use of the streaming content possibilities.
There are four models in the LE700 series, ranging from 32 inches to 52 inches. The smallest model lacks the internet and USB ports, so your multimedia options are gone. But we expect the same solid performance from all the models in the series.