Sharp Aquos LC-52LE640U LED TV Review
Some major shortcomings make this Sharp TV tough to recommend.
Sharp has nestled comfortably into the niche of providing consumers with some of the largest LCD screens on the market. This is a good spot to fill, especially in an America where bigger obviously and always means better.
We picked up the Sharp LC-52LE640U (MSRP $1,199), a 52-inch, 1080p, smart TV from Sharp. It is the smallest of three models in this series, which include 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 large screen really jumps out at you, and that's a good thing.
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 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. 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.
Smart TV Features
A confusing menu interface and a paltry selection of smart TV apps.
The menu interface is attractive, but the options within are poorly explained. 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, where the Picture Settings menu appears. But the options within are confusing.
The SmartCentral interface is Sharp’s collection of 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. SmartCentral appears as a bar at the bottom of the screen, and you can scroll left, right, up, or down through the apps here.
The apps include a couple of the premium partners like Vudu, Netflix, and CinemaNow, but leave out quite a few other major players. There is no app store per se, but there is Vudu Apps, which is a collection of streaming videos. Sharp also omits an internet browser app on the 52LE640U. There are only nine apps in total and that is pretty disappointing.
Before you buy the Sharp LC-52LE640U, take a look at these other televisions.
A good contrast is marred by inaccurate colors and an odd motion issue.
We recorded a fantastic contrast on this Sharp thanks to its dark black levels and bright white levels. When it comes to color performance, though, the LC-52LE640U does not reach a high enough quality. 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. These are not ideal qualities.
The Sharp LC-52LE640U does offer motion processing, although even when it is turned off, film-based content is especially juddery: there are moments that seem to speed up, looking like the interpolated 120Hz mode. We fiddled with the options to try and remove all processing features, and we still saw intermittent moments of over-smoothing. 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 color and motion issues make this Sharp tough to recommend.
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.
We can see the Sharp LC-52LE640U 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.
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