We picked up the ($1199.99 MSRP), a 52-inch, 1080p, Smart TV from Sharp, the smallest of three models in this series (there are also 60 and 70-inch models). Sending this panel through testing, we wanted to see if the online apps, the 120Hz Fine Motion Enhanced feature, the LED edge-lighting, and the picture quality were up to snuff. We found some notable highlights, but also one or two fatal flaws.
This big screen, and the other larger panels in the same series, have a design that really foregrounds the picture. The bezel is slim in every direction, and recedes into the background with a gray, brushed metal look. We think Sharp has done an excellent job here designing a large TV that will work in just about any space.
The ports selection is another excellent piece of industrial design. The sheer number of ports will put you and your pile of electronics at ease. You will be able to connect any device you have, both old and new, all at the same time. The layout is especially well-organized, separating the digital ports from the analog ones, into areas that make sense and are unobtrusive.
Employing a gray, brushed metal-looking facade, this Sharp looks handsome with over 50 inches of screen. The bezel is slim in every proportion, putting the screen before the casing, something we always like to see. The effect is that this large screen really jumps out at you. This is a good thing.
We are a little disappointed with the stand. It needs to be sturdy to hold up such a large screen, but we've seen other types, for even larger displays, that are less conspicuous. Also, the steel girders that you have to install in the back are a little difficult to manage at first and they leave the rig entirely static. The lack of any swivel makes it hard to get at the great selection of ports in the back.
There are manual controls on the right side of the display, but they are not ideal. Each of these controls feels just like any other, and they are not separated by space enough to know that you are touching a different button. Located around the back on the right side of the panel, you will want to keep the remote close, because these manual controls will be hard to use.
Sharp has struck a good middle ground for the remote and the online features contained in this TV. By keeping the online content to just streaming video, the traditional remote, with a few extra buttons for apps, is perfectly adequate to control the .
At neutral, the thumb rests on the main navigation controls. These buttons control the menus and all of the online content masterfully. Each of the buttons is easy to locate in the dark by feel.
Inside this monstrous box, we found the TV, a hefty stand, a three-language manual, a remote, batteries, and some warranty documents.
We saw some great connectivity on the back of this Sharp. Four HDMI ports is more than enough to connect a stack of media devices. There are also two USB ports, two composite ports, a component connection, spots for a VGA hookup, an RS-232C connection, and a LAN port.
Sharp has included just about everything we could imagine for port connections. The could easily be a home theater with all the connection possibilities laid out in the back.
The stand is among the most solid we have ever seen, constructed of thick steel bars and a heavy plastic bottom. There is zero mobility in the neck, and so we detract some points in this section of the review because the ports are hard to access.
That said, the layout is stupendous. The digital ports – the HDMI and USB ports– are all on the left side of the display, on the vertical side of an L-shaped cutout. The Analog ports – the component, composite, and VGA ports – are all on the back, and the extra ports – like the LAN, SPDIF, and the antenna – are located along the bottom of the L-shaped cutout. The organization is easy and makes sense, a wonder that other TV companies haven't figured this out.
The color performance does not reach a high enough quality for us to recommend it. It lacks detail throughout the spectrum, the reds and blues are incorrect, according to the international standard, and there will be a warm tint to most images.
The biggest offense is the motion processing on this unit. You have the option to watch film based content that is overly smooth with the 120Hz Fine Motion Enhanced feature on, or a super juddery picture with it off. Every now and again, the judder speeds up and looks interpolated, even with the motion processing off. This could be passable performance on a smaller television, but when the picture takes up most of the room, it's hard not to notice a jerky video, followed by sections of super smoothness, only to return to jerkiness again. We could forgive poor color performance, but viewing this Sharp without the motion processing is very jarring.
We recorded a fantastic contrast ratio on the . This TV utilizes both ends of the brightness spectrum with a high peak brightness and a nice, deep, black level for an LCD screen. More on how we test contrast.
These color curves have a good shape and do not peak before the highest possible input brightness, but they do not get started until midway through the dark gray values. You can see that each of the lines, except for the blue line, stays flat at 0% luminance before starting to increase in a curve to the brightest luminance. This flatlining means there is no difference from one value to the next, and at 0% luminance, these colors will show completely black, instead of dark gray. This area of no distinction does not last long however, and mostly the shape of the curves looks right on target.
The granularity of these lines is another error. These lines should be completely smooth, which would show that for each input value, the is capable of producing a corresponding output value. When there are bumps in the lines, it means that this Sharp could not produce the proper input value, and instead showed something either brighter or dimmer than what was asked. These lines exhibit bumps all the way through the spectrum, resulting in incorrect reproduction throughout.
Taken all together, there are some color accuracy errors here, but they do not add up to an awful performance. Rather, the yields an average set of colors. More on how we test color performance.
In the brightest whites, the color temperature is just where it should be. The rest of the values in the brightness spectrum show warming errors with a heavy peak in the dark values. You will probably see some orange tints to the picture in the darkest values, but not as much in the rest of the spectrum. When the errors are consistent, it would be hard to notice a warmish tint in relation to all of the other colors with the same error. Still, it's not great. More on how we test color temperature.
The uses a set of colors that match the international standard set of HDTV colors, determined by the Rec. 709, in both the green values and the white point. The red and blue values are both undersaturated and skewed towards different colors. This is not a superb match. More on how we test color temperature.
We test to see if the peak brightness or the black level is affected by the images shown on the screen. If the peak brightness dims when most of the screen is white, or the black level brightens when there is little black on the screen, we detract points from a television. This Sharp scored an almost perfect 10, meaning that these values stay consistent no matter what is shown on the screen. More on how we test picture dynamics.
The is a native 1080p display, and supports all ATSC and NTSC formats.
Typical of an LCD screen, this Sharp showed us a very narrow viewing angle.
There is a motion processing feature called 120Hz Fine Motion Enhanced that interpolates frames to create smoother motion. The result is something we have written about many times, it takes film based content and makes it look really cheap . This function works well in our motion tests and in sports broadcasts. In our tests, we saw very little blur, color trailing, shape distortion, or jagged edges.
However, we always recommend turning this feature off when watching film based content, which is just about every television show and movie you have ever seen (other than soap operas). The strange part about the is that with the motion processing off, film based content is especially juddery, with moments that seem to speed up, looking like the interpolated 120Hz mode. We fiddled with all the toggles to try and remove all processing features, and we still saw intermittent moments of over-smoothing, mixed with a very juddery picture. The judder on a screen this large is distractingly halting. If you like the way motion processing looks, then this Sharp is the way to go. Otherwise, these motion issues will affect just about everything you want to watch.
The screen showed some flashlighting artifacts, but not the worst we have seen. We saw blotchy gray clouds that covered most of the screen, but these will not be as evident when watching most media.
The quality and the power coming out of these 10W speakers is middle-of-the-road. Really, if you have a screen this big, you are cheating yourself out of the full cinematic experience without external speakers. Why go big only half way? The surround mode exists, and it changes the direction of the sound to make it seem as if it were coming from all around you, but it's not, and it's disappointing. Get those speakers. You will thank us later.
Though not too expensive, the extra screen inches will definitely take more energy to run. We noticed that adjusting the backlight had no effect on wattage required to power the screen. We like to keep the backlight all the way up because it produces the brightest picture, and in this case will not cost you any more money.
Calibration was a bit of a chore, considering the menu interface. The picture settings are readily available, but each one of them spans from a negative number to a positive number, with 0 being the middle. These numbers are not the same for each setting and it is more confusing than it is helpful. There are some settings where this system makes sense, like Sharpness, where the negative numbers meant undersharpening, where a fuzzy inner halo was clearly visible, and positive numbers meant oversharpening, where hard lines surrounded all objects. When left at 0, the sharpness was just right. Not every setting had this positive however.
There are other setting that affect the picture quality located in menus we didn't think would be related, as well as confusing explanations of features. Look, we're down with OPC, but this acronym, meaning Optical Picture Control, does not explain what this feature does. It is the control of the auto-dimming features, you can set it on high so that when the room is dark the picture darkens as well. We leave it off because we want our picture to be just the same whenever and wherever we see it.
All of our calibration is done in conjunction with the DisplayMate software.
The various video modes are easy to change with the designated button on the remote.
The menus, both for the television settings and the online features, look great but create the illusion of containing more than they actually control. For example, there are only nine apps, and when you open the Smart Central, four of them appear in a menu at the bottom of the screen. You can scroll through the apps endlessly in any direction, but once you have gone down or up twice, you are already looking at some of the apps you started with. This weird little trick makes it seem like there are so many apps, but really there are very few compared to other Smart TVs.
We think that menus should simplify rather than complicate. Instead of making it seem like there are more options, a television should include a plethora of functions, but make it seem like it is all very manageable in one menu
There's no internet browser here. This is for the best really. When the remote can't handle typing text or selecting individual links on dynamic web pages, we would rather do without.
The apps include a couple of the premium partners like Vudu, Netflix, and CinemaNow, but leave out quite a few other major players. To access the apps, you can click the Smart Central button on the remote and they appear at the bottom of the screen, or you can press the designated Netflix button, or try one of the Fav App buttons, which link directly to some preset apps. You can change the favorite button in the main menu, which is out of the way at this point, but it works.
There is no app store per se, but there is Vudu Apps, a collection of streaming videos that are actually really great. You can watch a new TED conference idea every day right from your TV with minimal effort. That's pretty (nerdy) cool. We do have qualms. You cannot add any of these streaming apps to the main app screen in order to make them one of your favorite apps. Essentially, the Smart Central screen only has nine possible, preloaded apps.
There are two USB ports where you can plug in a thumb drive, or other USB device like a camera, and share videos, music, and pictures on the big screen. The interface is easy to use and could come in handy for a slideshow of those 1,000+ photos you took while on vacation.
The menus are attractive, but the options within are poorly explained and the adjustment numbers are not consistent. It is easy to find the picture settings menu, there are several categories of menus that appear as a bar at the top of the screen. Each of these categories opens into further options on the right side of the screen, which is where the picture settings menu appears. But the options within are confusing. Each has adjustment numbers that do not make much sense and are inconsistent.
Often settings are unclear as to what they affect, and the pop-up descriptions only further confound the issue. You can find answers to the settings questions in the manual, and the navigation of these menus is not the worst we've seen, but it is clunky. Sharp takes a few settings and makes them look like so much more, when we would prefer the opposite: a simplification of many features to make it look easy.
The Smart Central interface is Sharp's collection of their online features, which is really just apps with streaming content. This interface is much like the overcomplicated menus. It tries to take what is very little and make it look like much more. The Smart Central appears as a bar at the bottom of the screen, and you can scroll left, right, up, or down through the apps here.
The weird aspect is that the apps are a loop and you quickly get back to where you started. This looping makes it seem like there are endless apps, but it is really just an optical illusion. We would much prefer to know where we are in this menu, to be able to find the app we were looking for. Simplification and clarity are always better than the illusion of opulence.
The manual is a thick booklet containing three languages that thoroughly cover the functions of the . There is a table of contents, the organization of which is questionable, but it will help you navigate this hefty paperback. There is no index, but most options are explained in detail.
The is quite a bit larger than the Sony Bravia KDL-40EX640, so a direct cost comparison is not appropriate. Scaling each to size and cost, the Sharp is definitely cheaper, but it does not come out as the better deal. The Sony Bravia KDL-40EX640 has a bit more quality, and does not suffer from severe motion processing issues.
The has a better overall contrast ratio due to a much deeper black level than the Sony Bravia KDL-40EX640.
The Sony Bravia KDL-40EX640 showed us much more even color temperatures than the , with only a slight warming error at the darkest end of the spectrum.
Numerically, the shows better color detail throughout the brightness spectrum than does the Sony Bravia KDL-40EX640. This is most likely due to the Sony showing flatlining extending further into the gray values than the Sharp.
The Sony Bravia KDL-40EX640 has a wider viewing angle by a small margin, but the biggest issue with screen performance is the motion processing on the .
The showed us some of the strangest pictures we have ever seen on a TV. With the processing turned off, to theoretically improve the quality of film based content, regular TV shows looked really jerky. Every couple of judder filled frames, the motion would smooth out, appearing to be interpolated, but the functions were disengaged. On such a large screen, it was very damaging to the picture.
The number and quality of the ports on the are some of the best. You won't see many other televisions with the breadth and depth supplied here.
The Sony Bravia KDL-40EX640 has an internet browser along with streaming capabilities, but we do not necessarily count this as an advantage. The browser on the Sony is hard to use and does not really add anything. The online features on the on the other hand are simple and add quite a bit of value.
The Samsung UN46D6000 is a more quality device than the and therefore will cost more money. The Sharp here is really just a large screen with online streaming, a prospect that may entice a large niche of consumers. However, we cannot really live with the poor motion processing on the . It was bad enough that we would have a hard time accepting that our television will forever show us either a too shaky, or too smooth, picture.
The Samsung UN46D6000 has one of the best black levels we have seen on an LCD screen. As such, it yields a better contrast ratio than the , but not by much.
The Samsung UN46D6000 has really strong colors. Samsung generally does a great job in picture quality, and you can see them exercising their chops in this comparison here.
Though the quality is there, the viewing angle is not. The Samsung UN46D6000 has a very narrow viewing angle, even for an LCD display.
Again, motion processing proved to be the poison pill of the . It was filled with judder with the motion processing off, and smooth with the interpolation feature on. It is hard to watch, especially on a screen so large.
The really takes first place in connectivity. The range and sheer number of ports is great, but also the arrangement makes the most sense we have seen.
The Samsung UN46D6000 comes with the best Smart TV interface on the market. The Samsung Smart Hub collects all there is to use on the TV in one graphically organized space. There is an internet browser as well, something you do not get with the , but with only a directional pad remote to navigate the web, we hardly think this is a benefit.
If you are looking for quality, the LG 42LV5500 is the way to go. For about the same price, you will get a much smaller screen however. We could envision a situation where a pub owner wants a 52-inch screen for his business to show sports games, and this Sharp would be perfect. It's cheap, it's big, the motion processing is great for sports, but any other situation, we would take the LG 42LV5500 for its color accuracy, its interface, and its screen performance.
LG is not big on the whole contrast ratio thing. We are not sure why exactly, but maybe it has to do with how they reproduce some of the best colors in the industry. In any case, the vastly outplays the LG here.
On the other side of the coin, LG really outdoes all competition in color accuracy. In every one of our color tests, the LG 42LV5500 bests the by a hefty margin.
The LG 42LV5500 showed us the widest viewing angle of all the models in our comparison chart. As well, we have mentioned the motion processing detriments on the , none of which we saw on the LG 42LV5500.
The number and breadth of ports are almost identical here. We thought the arrangement on the was quite clever, but this consideration should not be enough to determine your purchasing of one or the other.
The LG Smart TV interface is one of the best in the industry. They have taken the concept of collecting everything in one area and executed it well.
The ($1199.99 MSRP) is one in a series of large-screen, 1080p, Smart TVs, with a heavy motion processing feature. All of these televisions come with AQUOS Link, which allows communication between several AQUOS devices, like DVD players, as well as DLNA to share content across computers and phones. On such big displays, picture quality becomes paramount. When each pixel enlarged, you will want a base level of quality to assure that you are not watching the one of the grandest, and ugliest pictures out there.
The contrast ratio on the stands out as spectacular. A nice, deep black level and a sterling peak brightness make this range sing. In addition to the black and white detail, we also really liked the ports. The selection, depth, and organization are top-notch, making this TV ideal as a central media hub.
If you intend to purchase this Sharp for home use, there are a couple of drawbacks that we should warn you about. The color fidelity is slightly below average. In each of our color tests, the results showed us a TV that was not competitive with the other quality brands. However, the worst offender was the motion processing on this set. There are two unacceptable options: either use the overly smooth motion interpolation, or watch video with way too much judder. With the motion interpolation off, the judder was really noticeable. We shuddered every time someone or something on the screen moved, and then suddenly the motion on the screen would speed up and look like the too smooth video you see with the interpolation on. Either picture is hard to watch, especially when the screen is this large.
We can see the working out for the owner of a sports bar. The set is relatively inexpensive for such a large screen, the motion processing will work well for sports broadcasts which are filmed at 60fps (unlike film which is recorded at 24fps), and the color quality is not as important as watching the action and being able to read the score from far away. At home however, 52 inches (or more) of screen is going to dominate most living rooms. When the focus is directed to a strangely jerky picture, people will probably start to avoid this room in your house.
Sharp really likes their big screens. They have definitely grabbed a piece of the market that exceeds the higher end of other manufacturers. You can grab one of these LED edgelit monsters in a 52-inch, 60-inch, and 70-inch screen. Each of these models displays at 1080p, have four HDMI ports, and wireless connectivity to online streaming content.
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Christian Sherden is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.
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