Getting your head around Sharp’s TV range is altogether less taxing than it is for other brands. While others offer myriad models within countless ranges, Sharp has a much more manageable roster.
Quattron is the name of the latest range, and contains eight models: four 40in sets, three at 46in and a 60in monster. One flagship at each of these sizes is 3D-capable.
We’ve seen two other Quattrons – the 60in set and a 40in – and we liked what we saw. Both received four stars (even if the 60in lost a star once cheaper rivals emerged).
So what’s going on inside these Quattron sets? More than just a clever-sounding name: Sharp has taken a new approach to how the screen displays colours.
Clever colour treatment
The background: our eyes are handy at viewing red, green and blue colours. As a result the RGB signal was developed for TVs. This varies the intensity of sub-pixels displaying those three colours to deliver a full spectrum to the human eye.
Sharp has added yellow sub-pixels to make a ‘quad-pixel’ panel. The company says this should deliver a wider, brighter range of colours and smoother gradients.
All this fancy tech is housed inside an equally smart chassis, the edge LED backlight allowing for a TV that’s just 3.4cm slim. A swivel stand gives a degree of placement flexibility, or you can pin it up using the supplied wall mount.
A choice of four HDMI inputs (with Audio Return Channel), three USB connections (which support video, audio and images, as well as the wi-fi dongle), and an SD card input are handy.
Also given a lick of paint and a bit of a rethink is Sharp’s TV interface. Similar to Sony sets, Sharp’s menus now run along the top of the screen and down the right hand side, leaving plenty of the screen viewable when you’re inside the menus.
It works well enough, though our inner Gok Wan can’t help but think the text and layout could look a little more inspiring.
Clear and detailed in 2D and 3D
As it’s only the second 3D set that we’ve seen from Sharp, we decided to dive straight in with the Avatar 3D Blu-ray. And we were impressed.
Instances of crosstalk are few and far between, which is crucial, and motion is generally smooth. There might not be the sense of depth you get from the very best – and usually very expensive – but it’s an easy to watch 3D experience, which is half the battle won.
Switch to a 2D Blu-ray and the set responds admirably. Se7en is an excellent transfer, and the skin tones and detail on the faces of Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman are excellent throughout.
The image is brilliantly clean, too. At times the natural colour palette could be a little punchier, but it’s an easy to enjoy picture.
The 100Hz refresh-rate screen is boosted by a scanning backlight in an effort to further smooth motion. We settled on the ‘low’ setting for this – any more and the picture became susceptible to artefacts or blurring – and fast motion proves stable.
Watching the DVD of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo shows the LC-46LE831E capable of delivering bright scenes with clarity and precision, too. Lines are sharp, colours natural and insight impressive.
Darker scenes are a bit trickier: this set doesn’t go mega-deep, but as is often the case, the silver lining is that detail levels during these murkier scenes remain good.
The tuner is similarly capable. HD channels marry stability with realistic colours, while standard-definition content remains detailed and free from noise.
Surprisingly good sound
We’re also taken by the sound of this Sharp TV. Sharp claims there’s a 2.1 sound system in here somewhere, with a subwoofer joining a pair of stereo speakers; certainly the sound is better than the average flat TV.
There’s more weight than we’d normally expect to find, yet voices remain clear – quite the perk if you aren’t planning to add external speakers.
The other big buzz topic this year is internet TV – and Sharp is slowly but surely getting up to speed, though still falls short for now.
Three-star reviews for Sharp TVs had become all too common in recent years.
But the LC-46LE831E combines impressive 3D and 2D performance with a competitive price to ensure that the four-sub-pixel-toting Quattron range walks away with a well deserved four stars.