Last year Sharp made a splash with ads featuring Star Trek's Mr. Sulu--George Takei--comically extolling the virtues of a technology called Quattron. With the memorable "Oh, myyy" tagline, the spots attempted to convince TV buyers that the technology, which adds a fourth yellow sub-pixel to the standard array of red, green and blue, improved color fidelity. Despite covering the launch in-depth we never reviewed one of those 2010 TVs, but after spending some time with the 2011 version, represented by the LC-LE830U series, we're a bit less impressed than Sulu was.
If you calibrate the LC-LE830U series properly--something we do with every TV we review--the yellow pixel has no major impact, positive or negative, on picture quality. What will have a negative impact for critical viewers are the set's lighter black levels and sub-par screen uniformity. We appreciate some aspects of its performance, as well as a feature set with Wi-Fi and best-in-class product support, but in the end the LC-LE830U does little to stand above the tough competition in the edge-lit LED-based LCD TV category.
Sharp's main differentiating feature is Quattron, a proprietary modification of the panel design used by nearly all LCDs (both LED-based and otherwise), plasmas, monitors, projectors, smartphones, and so on. All 1080p TVs have 1,920x1,080 pixels, which are typically composed of three subpixels, one each for red, green and blue, that combine to form color. Quattron adds a fourth subpixel, yellow. You can check out our "Oh, myyy!" slideshow from 2010 for more information on the technology, which is largely unchanged this year.
The main Aquos Net interface needs work. It occupies half the screen and widgets live in that "console," an arrangement that works fine but doesn't accommodate custom widget sizes. Worse, the widgets can be hard to find; the main "Add widgets" menu only lists a portion, while the Aquos Network houses some more. The design seems outdated, the menus are crowded and there's no obvious way to rearrange or customize widgets placement in the console.
The main Apps menu appears as a strip overlaid along the bottom of the screen, and in addition to the streaming options it provides a shortcut to Aquos Net (with widgets like news, weather, photos and traffic) Aquos Advantage Live and USB and DLNA access.
The Sharp LC-LE830U series wasn't among the better edge-lit LED-based LCDs we tested this year, but you can't blame the extra yellow pixel for that. Instead, fault lies with its lighter black levels and uneven screen uniformity, as well as extremely blue tinge near black. We appreciated its solid video processing, however, and color accuracy in bright areas after calibration was very good to excellent.