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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The Sharp LN-40D78UN features the glossy black bezel that's looking increasingly out of date for a modern HDTV.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.

Front Tour Image

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.

Back Tour Image

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.

Sides Tour Image

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.

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Stand Photo

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.

Controls Photo

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.

Remote Control Photo

The Sharp LC-40D78UN's remote has a basic layout and doesn't do touch navigators any favors.

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 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.

Black Level Chart

Toshiba LC-40D78UN wasn't the brightest LCD we've reviewed. You only really need 200 cd/m2to 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.

Peak Brightness Chart

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 black level 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.

Contrast Chart

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.

Tunnel Contrast Chart

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.

White Falloff Chart

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 white falloff.

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.

Greyscale Gamma Chart

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.

Color Temperature Chart

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.

RGB Curves Chart

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.

Motion Smoothness (6.00)

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.

Motion Artifacting (7.00)

The Sharp LC-40D78UN only had minor issues with motion artifacting. More on how we test motion performance.

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.

480p

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.

720p

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.

1080i

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.

Viewing Angle Chart

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.

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.

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DisplayMate_Logo.jpg

All of our calibration is done in conjunction with the DisplayMate software.

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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!

Input Ports (6.50)

The TV's inputs include:

  • 3 HDMI
  • 2 Component
  • 2 Composite
  • 1 VGA
  • 4 Analog Audio In
  • 1 Digital Audio Out
  • 1 Analog Audio Out
  • 1 RF Input
Connectivity Tour Image 1

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.

Connectivity Tour Image 2

Output Ports (2.00)

The TV has two output ports: an analog audio out and a digital audio out.

Other Connections (0.0)

The TV has no other connectivity options, such as an ethernet port or wifi.

Media (1.00)

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-LC-40D78UN-menu-audio.jpg

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 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.

Here's a chart comparing the Sharp's power consumption costs with a few competing LCD HDTVs.

Power Consumption Chart

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.

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.

Contrast Chart

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,

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.

The Sony and Sharp have approximately the same black level, but the Sony is a little bit brighter.

Contrast Chart

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.

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.

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.

Contrast Chart

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 Sharp LC-40D78UN is a decent option for a budget LCD. Don't expect any of the new features you've seen in advertisements, like online capabilities or 3D: the LC-40D78UN is a pretty basic HDTV. The one problem with the LC-40D78UN is that many retailers are convinced the TV costs $700 or more. They are incorrect: if you shop around you can get one for under $600.

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

Patrick Ouellette

Patrick Ouellette

Staff Writer

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Patrick Ouellette is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.

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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.

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