Sharp Aquos LC-60EQ10U LED TV Review
Loads of screen size for an appealing price, but requires calibration for optimal performance
The Sharp LC-60EQ10U LED TV (MSRP $1,699.99) isn't at the top of the 2014 heap. For a 60-inch HDTV, it's competitively priced, but most of its value is hampered by poor out-of-the-box performance. To produce the best picture, this machine requires extensive calibration, something many consumers don't want to fool with. And why should they? There are a number of comparable TVs that don't require as much work, after all.
That said, the 60-inch EQ10U's current sale price of $1,299 looks quite appealing, and with some informed tweaking, this TV generates a really commendable picture.
If style's your thing then Sharp's got you covered. This strapping 60-inch screen dominates any room it sits in. The stand, a sturdy four-footed pedestal, holds the panel low to the tabletop. In a dark room, the panel practically floats—a subtle effect, but interesting nonetheless.
Head around back and you'll come across an extensive collection of ports nestled into a backwards L-shaped indent in the panel. There's the usual suspects: composite and component inputs, four HDMI and two USB ports, and both digital and analog audio jacks. There's also a 3.5mm headphone jack, a VGA input, a coaxial connector, and an ethernet port. Thus equipped, the EQ10U stands poised and ready to take up the mantle as the central hub of your home-entertainment system.
The EQ10U's remote control doesn't break any rules, but it fits nicely in hand and the buttons are comfortably laid out. Near the bottom of the remote is a Netflix button, providing users immediate access to the Netflix app at any given time. Although this isn't a new addition, its convenience cannot be overstated.
Get smart, 3.0
In terms of smart functionality and fancy features, the EQ10U delivers most of what you'd expect. I say mostly because you won't find 3D functionality or flashy remote controls with this TV.
Sharp's newest iteration of the Smart Central platform aims to provide users with online and social content in an easy-to-navigate system. Generally speaking, it succeeds. Most of the essentials are accounted for: Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, a host of social media apps, and cable/satellite integration, as well. That's right: When you search for a movie that happens to be both on Netflix and live TV, this smart platform will tell you as much.
The revamped platform is a step-up from the previous iteration of Smart Central, but the basic layout is similar: There's a main hub with everything the platform has to offer, but there's also a customizable bar along the bottom of the screen for quicker access. This allows users to hop between most-used apps without trudging all the way back to the main hub.
As with last year's Smart Central platform, typing with the EQ10U's remote control is a slow, arduous task. A keyboard or remote-control app is the way to go if you plan on tweeting up a storm.
The EQ10U also offers the delightful wallpaper mode from Sharp's 2013 lineup; instead of powering off the TV, users can utilize a kind of sleep mode that portrays beautiful, matte-finish paintings. The transformation looks very welcoming in a living room setting, and serves as a great alternative to the otherwise dull black panel.
An out-of-the-box disappointment
Overall, the Sharp EQ10U has its share of ups and downs to consider prior to purchase. I'll go over the panel's strengths and weaknesses to paint a picture of its performance, but users should expect excellent motion, healthy if underwhelming contrast, and flawed color accuracy. Let's dig in.
First, the EQ10U shares a problem with its higher-end Q+ relative: This television is too blue. It's not a minor case of the blues, either. Well-trained eyes will quickly notice the excess blue in skin tones, skies, and shadows.
The TV's greens look unnaturally vivid, too, but luckily proper calibration goes a long way in correcting most of this panel's color trouble. To learn about our calibration settings for the EQ10U, jump to the Science page.
One issue that doesn't improve with calibration is the EQ10U's poor viewing angle. The EQ10U has some mild uniformity issues to begin with—meaning you'll notice a few splotchy light leaks polluting areas of the screen that ought to be dark. But sit too far away from the center and things get worse; you'll notice a significant drop in contrast, and uniformity issues intensify. Luckily, this TV's black levels are acceptable overall, but from off angles, dark shadows and inky contours begin to look gray, shallow, and unrealistic.
Although this flaw is not uncommon for LED LCD TVs, the bummer factor in this case relates to the EQ10U's massive size. A 60-inch panel practically demands a crowd, but most of those people won't see the best possible picture due to off-angle seats.
A refreshing refresh rate
By far the best aspect of the EQ10U's performance is its motion handling. Thanks to a robust 120Hz refresh rate, objects in motion don't suffer from the distracting "hiccup effect" present in many LCD televisions. Feel free to bask in the glory of a silky-smooth nature documentary, or to marvel at a football game untainted by distracting motion blur.
Most people buy TVs this big for immersion, and nothing breaks that immersion quicker than lackluster motion. The pureness of the EQ10U's motion display ensures that everything cinematic about a single-take action sequence will stay cinematic by the time it reaches your home theater.
The EQ10U has some blemishes, there's no way around it. Fortunately, it sports an arsenal of picture customization options to make it a much-better TV. The question is this: How much effort are you willing to put into calibrating a TV that's well over a thousand dollars?
A matter of preference
The Sharp LC-60EQ10U (MSRP $1,699) is an interesting case: It offers a massive panel, full-HD resolution, useful smart features, dynamite motion handling, and potentially great picture quality for a competitive price. I found this 60-inch bruiser online for $1,299 today!
That said, the gulf between its pre- and post-calibration performance is substantial, and while it's fairly priced for a 60-inch smart HDTV, competition still makes this Sharp a tricky sell. For a few hundred bucks less, the almost-as-big Sony KDL-55W800B offers better performance with minimal calibration—which saves you $40 per inch, and gets you better overall picture quality.
It all comes down to personal expectations: For users willing to go the extra mile with extensive calibration, the EQ10U is worthy of consideration. However, if you've got a "hands-off" approach to electronics and would rather not mess around with the inner-workings of your TV's customization menus, you'd probably be happier spending money elsewhere.
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