Sharp LC-80LE632U Review

May 17th, 2012 · 3 Comments · LED LCD Flat Panels, Review

The LC-80LE632U is one big HDTV. Made by  Sharp, it’s the only TV brand that offers 80-Inch  LED LCD consumer models. In addition to making its own giant LCD screens, Sharp is one of the four remaining TV makers that also assembles its  TVs (LG, Samsung and Panasonic are the other three). All the other flat consumer HDTVs currently top out at 65-Inches. (Note: Panasonic offers very expensive commercial plasma monitors in 85 and 103-Inch screen sizes).

The LC-80LE632U is Sharp’s entry level model within its 80-inch LED LCD line-up. It sports a matte finished anti glare screen coating, Internet apps with streaming video, full array LED backlights, Wi-Fi and 120 Hz refresh rate. To keep the price low, Sharp omits 3D, and its Quattron four sub-pixel LCD panel (red, blue, green and yellow) in favor of the conventional and perfectly acceptable red, blue and green triad pattern LCD screen.

Design

This Sharp breaks no new ground in the styling department with a conventional width bezel and a depth of just under four inches. This behemoth weights in at  slightly over 131 pounds (with included table stand).

The remote control is small and cluttered. While it does contain the usual array of buttons for TV controls such as input, Internet apps, aspect ratio, picture mode and more, it lacks a back light. We did not like the layout especially the location of the menu button, which is just above to the “arrow up” button and caused us to hit it accidentally numerous times.

The TV’s “on screen” menu appears on the right side of the screen. Unlike other televisions which overlay the graphic user interface (GUI) on top of the picture, this Sharp places it to the side by shrinking the image. The shrunken picture creates artifacts called aliasing making valid evaluations impossible while in this mode. Fortunately, when you select a function such as “brightness” the image expands back to fill the screen. We fail to see any useful purpose for the shrink and expand function and found it quite annoying.

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Features

In addition to the aforementioned Internet streaming services (which include Netflix, CinemaNow and Vudu) Sharp includes Aquos Care which allows a Sharp customer service adviser to access the user controls to assist you and diagnose any problems (with a phone call and your permission). As there are no cameras or microphones built into this TV, we have no problem with privacy and welcome this tool to help Sharp diagnosing  consumers’ problems.

The 632 included built-in Wi-Fi, but we found it impossible to set-up by following the instructions within the owner’s manual. A call to Sharp’s customer service provided the proper instructions (which differed slightly from the manual) and we were up and running in minutes.

The Picture settings contained six modes. We settled on “Movie” mode as the basis of our settings, although none of the presets were close to ideal out of the box. The 632 also includes a Color Management System (CMS). We spent hours trying to get it right, but to no avail. This is not unusual as we have found other companies flat panel CMS systems to be an exercise in futility. In the end we could not get the color point to match the industry HD standard called Rec. 709, nor could we tame the red exaggeration (called red push) forcing us to significantly reduce the color control as normal settings resulted in beet red faces.

Another odd behavior was the how the 120 Hz circuit is deactivated. As with other LCD TVs tested, this Sharp made film appear as if video often called the “soap opera effect” (link) when the 120Hz mode was engaged. The control called “Motion Enhancement” has settings for 120Hz High/120 Hz Low and “Off”. We discovered when it set to the “Off” position the 120 Hz circuit was still active. A call to Sharp revealed the “Film Mode” (3:2 pull-down) control also needed  to be in the “Off” position  (along with Motion Enhancement off) to shut off the 120Hz and the eliminate the soap opera effect.

The 632 has four HDMI inputs , two USB ports two composite video inputs (with stereo audio) and one component video input as seen in the photo above.

Performance

We put the LC-80LE632 through our usual battery of tests which include the normal user controls (brightness, color, contrast etc.) gray scale and the color management. While we were able to get decent gray scale with readings of 6391K for 20 IRE and 6485K for 80 IRE .

Color points were not accurate for red and green before or after adjusting the CMS controls. Our post adjustment readings are as follows with the Rec. 709 HDTV standard in parenthesis: Red x .611, y .350 (x.64, y .33) Green x .287, y.534 (x.30, y.60) Blue x.153, y .055 (x.15, y.06)

The HQV test discs were used to test high (1080i) and standard definition (480i) noise reduction, jaggies and film deinterlacing. While the LC-80LE632U passed all HD tests, the standard definition  upconversion tests did not fare well.

The  color bar detail test, revealed a softer image than other contemporary HDTVs we’ve tested. This Sharp passed the Jaggies Pattern 1, but failed Pattern 2, showing jaggies on two of the three bars. The flag jaggies test received a score of 5 out of 10.

Picture detail was on the soft side during the test and raising the Sharpness control improved detail somewhat, but any Sharpness setting added white outlines adjacent to edges of objects making it a lose-lose situation. The Sharp’s noise reduction circuit was quite  effective, passing the noise reduction test.

3:2  film detection (called 3:2 pulldown) was active even with the “Film Mode” in the “Off” position. While this Sharp  also passed the mix of titles with film test, it failed the  cadence tests  creating artifacts with animated and other non-standard cadence content.

Our minimum illumination test (black level) revealed a measurement of .008 ft. lamberts in the screen center, a good reading for a non-local dimming LED LCD. However, the screen edge area was  triple the brightness of the center area measuring .027 ft lamberts . Calibrated, the  white level was a very respectable 25.07 ft. lamberts, providing sufficient brightness with a variety of ambient room lighting conditions. Power consumption at this setting measured 138 watts.

Red saturation noticeably decreased from screen center too, as seen in the photo (above). We also observed a color shift when viewing off center at the optimum distance of  ten and a half feet, meaning persons on the left or right sofa cushions do not see the same image as one does when viewing from the center. We did not observe any other uniformity issues such as vertical bars sometimes seen on some competing brands of LED LCD.

The other picture quality issues were compression artifacts, observed using DirecTV content. While these artifacts (called mosquito noise) become less apparent the further you are from the screen, they are exacerbated  by this TVs massive size we found their appearance more severe that seen on other large screens recent large screen models tested. Blu-ray discs have far less compression and did not display the same degree of mosquito noise artifacts.

Motion resolution measured 600 lines (per picture height) with the 120 Hz mode engaged and 320 lines with 120 Hz circuit off.

Conclusion

This Sharp provides a huge HD image without resorting to dark room conditions required for optimum viewing using a front projection display. Only a rear projector offers similar performance, but trades off form for function with a deep cabinet jutting into the room. While we would like to see significant improvements in color accuracy, signal processing and picture uniformity, we are pleased  Sharp offers this size HDTV for under $5000 ($4430 on Amazon). HD Guru awards the Sharp LC-LE632U a ♥♥♥ out of five heart rating. Did we mention the screen is really big?

 

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