The Sharp LN-40D78UN features the glossy black bezel that's looking increasingly out of date for a modern HDTV. There's a bit of branding and some LED indicators along the bottom bezel.
The back of the TV has a group of ports off to the right side. These ports are indented fairly far from the side of the TV, which might make them a bit harder to access.
For information about the ports on the back of the Sharp LC-40D78UN see our Connectivity section.
The right side of the TV is boring and doesn't have any features you should care about. The left side of the TV has some on-set controls and a handful of side-facing ports, though these ports are indented pretty far.
For information about the ports on the sides of the Sharp LC-40D78UN see our Connectivity section.
The Sharp LC-40D78UN's stand is the same glossy black plastic slab that used to be ubiquitous in the days before before manufacturers starting emphasizing design. When you assemble the stand, you insert two metal splits into the display, then screw the base onto those. The metal splints seem sturdy enough, but the base seems to be made out of very cheap plastic. It should be fine for normal use, but it doesn't inspire much confidence.
The TV's controls are located on its left side and let you perform all the basic functions. The one issue with Sharp HDTVs, however, is some functionality—such as switching the video mode—can only be accessed via remote.
The Sharp LC-40D78UN's remote has a pretty basic layout. The d-pad is placed low on the remote, with the volume and channel changers placed to the right of the d-pad. Very few of the buttons have a unique shape or texture to allow for easy touch navigation, and the importance of the buttons doesn't relate to their size. It's a functional remote, but it's nothing outstanding.
The Sharp LC-40D78UN comes bundled with a remote, its batteries, and some manuals, but that's it. Don't expect to find any cables or other extras in the box.
The TV also requires a bit more setup than other TVs: you need to screw two metal poles into the TV
The Sharp LC-40D78UN isn't ugly by any means, but it does have that sort of bland, generic aesthetic that makes it nearly impossible to differentiate from dozens of other HDTVs. Many of the major manufacturers are investing in design lately, but it appears Sharp is giving that fad a pass. If you don't really care if your TV has 0.20mm-thin bezels, or a single sheet of glass for a facade, this TV will be fine.
The Toshiba LC-40D78UN had a moderately deep black level. We measured it at 0.21 candelas per square meter (cd/m2), which is probably a meaningless number for non-cinephiles. Basically, anything with a black level of 0.10 cd/m2 or less will produce a very deep, rich black. Black levels in the 0.20 cd/m2 range are average, and anything over 0.30 cd/m2 will have that distinct "bright black" look.
While the LC-40D78UN has a black level that will be adequate for most users, those looking for perfect picture quality should look elsewhere. (More on how we test Black Level.)
The Toshiba LC-40D78UN wasn't the brightest LCD we've reviewed. You only really need 200 cd/m2 to get an adequate picture, and we measured the LC-40D78UN at 269.84 cd/m2. Even though this will be enough for most users, it's not very bright for an LCD—especially one with such a middling black level. (More on how we test Peak Brightness.)
A TV's contrast is the ratio of its brightest white to its darkest black. Our eyesight is based on contrast, so a TV's contrast ratio is important for maintaining an image's detail. We measured the Sharp LC-40D78UN's contrast ratio at 1289:1, which is a bit below average for a modern LCD. It's the result of a mediocre blacklevel and brightness. Again, while the average consumer might not notice a particularly bad contrast ratio here, people that know what to look for could spot this TV out of a line-up. (More on how we test Contrast.)
Our tunnel contrast test measures the consistency of the black level. Sometimes when there's just a small amount of black on the screen, the black level gets washed out by the surrounding brightness. The Sharp LC-40D78UN had a pretty even black level, regardless of what percentage of the screen was black. (More on how we test Tunnel Contrast.)
Some TVs have trouble maintaining their peak brightness when the whole screen is white. For example, plasmas simply can't handle the energy requirement. The LC-40D78UN, however, maintained a pretty consistent level of brightness. You shouldn't have any issues with bright details fading on a predominantly dark screen, or with the TV's brightness dropping when the screen is predominantly white. (More on how we test White Falloff.)
For the most part, the Sharp LC-40D78UN's screen was pretty uniform. With an all white screen we only noticed some minor dimming in the corners and around the edges. On an all black screen the display was a little cloudy, but the lighter parts were fairly faint. Basically, unless you're looking at an all black screen, you won't notice the uniformity issues. (More on how we test Uniformity.)
Greyscale gamma describes how a TV emulates all the greys between the darkest black and the brightest white. The slope of this curve should be about 2.2. This ensures an even progression through shades: two adjacent shades won't be so similar they'll look identical, and they won't be so dissimilar the shades won't blend together seamlessly.
We measured the Sharp LC-40D78UN's greyscale gamma at 2.40, which is a bit aggressive. If you look at the graph below, you'll see there's a bit of a dip towards the dark end. The flatter part indicates the shades are a bit too similar, and the steeper portion indicates the shades are a bit too different. Overall, though, the LC-40D78UN's greyscale gamma was spot on. (More on how we test Greyscale Gamma.)
Even if you don't know what the graph below is trying to describe, chances are you can tell it isn't good. Basically, the Sharp LC-40D78UN's color temperature shifts as it displays darker colors. We measured the white level a bit on the cool side to begin with (about 7150K), but it corrects that imbalance and then some as you enter the mid tones and darker. The TV ends up strattling the "it looks warm" and "it looks cool" gap, where black is the former and white is the latter, and only the middle grays look right. (More on how we test Color Temperature.)
The LC-40D78UN had pretty accurate RGB representation. As you can see in the graph below, the red, green, and blue channels are all represented by smooth, even curves that continue to slop up until the very edge of the graph. This means fine gradients will display without issue and brightly colored areas won't look flat. Overall, the LC-40D78UN put up a good performance here. (More on how we test RGB Curves.)
We've converted the above graph into small gradient strips below, to show you what you can expect from your TV's red, green, and blue channels. Look for where the black starts to kick in and any vertical lines: vertical lines imply adjacent colors aren't flowing into each other smoothly, which results in lost details.
Despite having a fairly decent RGB progression, the LC-40D78UN's color gamut itself was pretty far off. A TV's color gamut (the colors range it should display) is actually defined by an international standard, called Rec. 709. Not all TVs strictly adhere to this standard, however, which can lead to discoloration. If you've ever been in a sports bar and seen multiple TVs showing the same picture with different coloration, you've seen a bad color gamut.
In the LC-40D78UN's case, the green and blue points are slightly off, which isn't particularly eggregious. The red and white points, however are pretty far from where they should be. The red poitn is undersaturated and shifted towards magenta. The white point is significantly more blue than it should be. (More on how we test Color Gamut.)
For those who want to check our work, here's where we measured the TV's white, red, green, and blue points. We've also listed the rec. 709 standard and how far from the standard the TV was.
The Sharp LC-40D78UN didn't maintain particularly sharp lines during our motion tests. As a photo panned around the frame it lost a lot of its fine details: eyes smudged, the nose almost disappeared, and lips smeared quite a bit. Still, the overall image was legible and each individual shape in the photo was still legible, if a bit distorted. If you intend on hooking up your computer to this TV to look at family photos, make sure you aren't using transition animations. (More on how we test Motion.)
The Sharp LC-40D78UN only had minor issues with motion artifacting.
We saw some minor flashing in 3:2 pulldown mode, but overall the TV handled it well. Some fine, repeated patterns—like the backs of empty stadium seats—acquired a crawling effect. Other than these small problems, we didn't see any issues with 3:2 pulldown or 24fps mode. (More on how we test 3:2 Pulldown and 24fps.)
Your TV won't always be displaying content in its native resolution. The Sharp LC-40D78UN is a 1080p TV, but any time you watch standard definition, DVDs, or broadcast HD, you're actually watching a lower resolution image that's been upscaled to fit the screen. This additional processing can cause some issues, but we didn't see any egregious artifacting on the LC-40D78UN. (More on how we test Resolution Scaling.)
The TV did well with 480p playback overall. We noticed a slight shimmery effect to some patterns and the focus was a bit soft, but otherwise the LC-46SB57UN did well with 480p content.
The TV had some trouble with 720p content. The biggest issue was with moire interference. We saw lots of plaid patterns and gradients forming where they shouldn't.
There were some minor issues with 1080i playback. We noticed a few patterns acquired a pale green hue, which is a common problem with interlaced processing.
The Sharp LC-40D78UN is a 1080p HDTV. That means you'll be getting the highest resolution picture that's currently available: 1920 x 1080 pixels. The next step for resolution is 4000 x 2000, but those panels aren't available yet.
Once you get about 20° away from sitting directly in front of your LC-40D78UN, you'll only see about half the TV's maximum contrast ratio. That's not a great viewing angle, even for an LCD. On the graph below, the Vizio is closer to the average viewing angle for LCDs, which is about 30°. Today's plasmas have viewing angles that almost allow you to view the screen from a perpendicular angle. (More on how we test Viewing Angle.)
External light shining on the Sharp LC-40D78UN will result in a large, diffuse glow. On most TVs, that wouldn't be a problem, but the LC-40D78UN's weak brightness output isn't enough to overpower the shine. Basically, we really wouldn't recommend putting your LC-40D78UN in a room with a window or a light source you can't easily switch off. (More on how we test Reflectance.)
The Sharp LC-40D78UN has a few processing features. We've listed them below, with a description of what the manufacturer thinks the features do and what we think they do. Interestingly enough, the manual both offers a broad description of the feature, then further clarifies by offering descriptions of the "on" and "off" settings.
The Sharp LC-40D78UN, like most TVs, doesn't come out of the box calibrated for the average home. Since we test TVs at their peak performance levels, we had to calibrate the set. Below, you'll find our calibration settings.
The TV does have a handful of processing features. We've listed them below, with a description of what the manufacturer thinks the features do and what we think they do. The manual is kind enough to explain not only what the feature do when switched on, but also what they do when they're switched off!
- 3 HDMI
- 2 Component
- 2 Composite
- 1 VGA
- 4 Analog Audio In
- 1 Digital Audio Out
- 1 Analog Audio Out
- 1 RF Input
There are also a few side-facing ports, namely one set of analog A/V inputs, an HDMI port, and a USB port for photo playback.
Below is a chart of the TV's ports, so you can easily compare its connectivity with its competitors.
The TV has two output ports: an analog audio out and a digital audio out.
The TV has no other connectivity options, such as an ethernet port or wifi.
The TV has a USB port for firmware updates.
The TV's port placement is a bit sub-optimal. The ports are grouped in a cluster on the back, with most ports facing backwards and a handful facing sideways. That's a typical layout, but the ports are indented fairly far from the edge of the TV. Additionally, the stand doesn't swivel
The LC-40D78UN's two 10-watt speakers produced a pretty dull sound. If you want decent bass, you'll have to buy auxiliary speakers. You can turn on the bass enhancer feature and increase the bass level in the equalizer, but even then we weren't particularly impressed. The surround sound feature added a little body to the output, but it failed to impress or to surround.
Sharp still hasn't overhauled their menu system, and at this point we fear they never will (this is actually true and we are routinely startled awake by product-related nightmares). It's fine and functional, but it has a lot of confusing quirks. Settings have values that extend into the negatives, which probably won't confuse anyone who's savvy enough to fiddle around with them. The one sticking point we really have, however, is you can't change the picture mode without the remote. Since most people are just going to toss their TV remote in a junk drawer and use the one for their cable box, this isn't ideal. It's also annoying to page through every menu looking for a way to fix or unlock video modes, only to discover there isn't a way to change it in the software.
The LC-40D78UN's printed manual does a pretty good job explaining the different menu features, but there's no quick setup guide. The manual itself does a fine job explaining how to set up and use the TV, but finding what you need is a bit difficult. We'd recommend using the online manual (here), since it's a searchable document.
The Sharp LC-40D78UN lacks an ethernet port and it doesn't have wifi connectivity. If you're want online features, this TV shouldn't be your first choice.
The TV does have a USB port, but it's used for software updates. The TV doesn't support media playback.
The TV does have a USB port, but it's used for software updates. The TV doesn't support media playback.
The TV doesn't have any additional media features.
The Sharp LC-40D78UN isn't the cheapest LCD you could have in your home, but we're a bit reticent to say it's expensive. With a backlight level of 200 cd/m2—all you need for an average viewing environment—the TV will cost about $24 per year. The average LCD is about half as expensive, but doubling $1 per month still won't break your bank. (More on how we test Power Consumption.)
Here's a chart comparing the Sharp's power consumption costs with a few competing LCD HDTVs.
Value Comparison Summary
This match-up comes down to budget. The Samsung is the better TV, both in terms of picture quality and feature set. It also costs about $250 more. If you don't mind spending that amount on a better picture and online features, the Samsung is a decent price for an internet-capable HDTV. If you don't think you'd use the online functionality and don't mind mediocre picture quality, the Sharp will let you save some money.
Blacks & Whites
The Samsung had a much, much deeper black level and a higher peak brightness compared to the Sharp. As a result, the Samsung has a significantly higher contrast ratio.
The Sharp got increasingly warm towards the darker greys, while the Samsung gets a bit cooler during the same span. The Samsung didn't wander as far outside the perceptible limit, however: it had a much more even color temperature.
The Samsung had better motion overall, with less artifacting and less motion blur.
The Samsung had a wider viewing angle than the Sharp, but not by a huge margin.
The Samsung and Sharp have about the same number of A/V ports: the Samsung has one extra HDMI and the Sharp has an extra composite input with accompanying analog audio ins. The biggest difference between the two TVs, though,
Value Comparison Summary
This comparison really comes down to budget and what features you'll actually plan on using. The Sony costs quite a bit more than the Sharp, but it has some of the best online features on the market. This being said, the Sony doesn't offer a dramatic improvement over the picture quality—in some cases the Sharp actually has better picture quality.
Blacks & Whites
The Sony and Sharp have approximately the same black level, but the Sony is a little bit brighter.
The Sony had a much more accurate color temperature, but its RGB curves weren't slightly less accurate than the Sharp's.
Both TVs had about the same amount of motion blur, but the Sony had slightly more motion artifacting than the Sharp.
The Sharp and Sony had nearly identical viewing effects.
The big difference between these two TVs is online connectivity. It's creeping onto more and more TVs lately, but Sony is notable for currently offering the biggest selection of content providers, by far.
Value Comparison Summary
This is another comparison where the Sharp is a bit of an underdog but represents the budget option. The Panasonic is two inches larger than the Sharp, which accounts for some of the price difference, but doesn't offer the same picture quality increase or features that the Samsung LN40C630 or Sony KDL-40W5100 did. Here you're paying for a more moderate quality hike and a slightly bigger screen.
Blacks & Whites
The Panasonic had a much deeper black level, but the Sharp was a bit brighter. The Panasonic's deep black allowed it to have a much higher overall contrast ratio, however.
The Panasonic had a much more even color temperature than the Sharp, but its RGB curves weren't as accurate.
The Panasonic had slightly less motion blurring, but it had some pretty bad artifacting issues.
As a plasma, the Panasonic had a significantly wider viewing angle than the Sharp.
The Sharp has a couple connectivity options that the Panasonic does not. Neither TV has online connectivity.
The LC-xxD78UN series seems to be pretty basic. The TVs lack online capabilities, local media playback functionality, or any other feature that tacks a few more digits onto the price tag. The TVs do feature a 120Hz refresh rate feature, but we didn't see a huge difference on the picture quality of the LC-40D78UN.
Meet the tester
Mark Brezinski is a senior writer with seven years of experience reviewing consumer tech and home appliances.
Checking our work.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.Shoot us an email