The TV now includes two smart modes too. Hit the Smart Central button and you'll see the marquee look of before, hit it again and you'll get a more traditional interface divvied up into categories -- video, music, games etc. Like most Smart TVs the games aren't much chop, and Sharp hasn't yet erected a store to buy new ones.
The Web browser functions, but that's probably the best thing you can say about it when the only control is the remote's cursor buttons. Add to this a sluggish response time and you could be quicker powering on a desktop before using this feature at length.
The Sharp 650U features five tweakable picture modes, a gamma slider, a full color management system, and an upgraded 10-point grayscale control. Also included is the ability to tweak the strength of dejudder, aka , from really smooth to even smoother.
Connectivity: The television carries four HDMI ports -- just like last time -- but the fourth is now, which means you can connect smartphones or the . Analog connections (one component, two composite, one VGA for computers) are as complete as I'd expect. A pair of USB ports, one facing the side and one the bottom, rounds out the package.
Is the LE650's picture quality a significant improvement on the TV that came before it? No, but that's perfectly OK since its predecessor was one of the few LCD TVs last year to earn a "7" or higher in this category. The LE650 has better color accuracy, particularly with skin tones, and it can render shadow detail a bit more successfully than the 640, but conversely its 1080i film de-interlacing got worse. The 640's strengths, including solid black level performance and the ability to handle ambient light well, remain intact, allowing this Sharp to outperform competitors like the Vizio E1i-A3.
Sound quality, on the other hand, is considerably poorer than it was last year. With the new thinner bezel, the speakers have a hollower sound which can lead to less intelligible speech.
Click the image at the right to see the picture settings used in the review and to read more about how this TV's picture controls worked during calibration.
|Comparison models (details)|
|Sharp LC-LE640U||60-inch LCD|
|Vizio E601i-A3||60-inch LCD|
|LG 47LM7600||47-inch LCD|
|Sony KDL-46EX640||46-inch LCD|
|Panasonic TC-P55ST50||55-inch plasma|
Black level: Black levels are very similar between the old and new Sharp, with the LE650 showing an ever-so-slight edge, particularly with high-contrast scenes. The two Sharps were the darkest in our lineup, apart from the Panasonic ST50, and the Vizio and LG were the weakest in terms of having the lightest black levels.
During "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow Part II," however, something unusual was happening between the two Sharps. The LE640 showed a preference for shadow detail on the right side of the screen (45:55) while the LE650 illuminated the left. In the LE640's case this turned out to be a matter of the TV creating false details in dark areas -- none of the other TVs in the lineup exhibited the same "unmasking". Shadow detail on the LE650, on the other hand, was very good, with both punchiness and subtlety in equal measure.
Color accuracy: Overall the color balance of the Sharp LE650 was very good, especially in the cooler end of the spectrum. Blues and cyans on the Sharp were closer to the Panasonic ST50 during the images of oceans in "The Tree of Life." Greens and reds showed a tendency for desaturation, but skin tones were quite good.
At the start of the Innocence chapter in the same movie, the mother lays down on the grass, and while her blue dress and pale skin looked identical to that shown on the ST50, the grass behind her looked somewhat blue. Switching to "Star Trek" (31:21) as Uhura (Zoe Saldana) sits at the bridge with a purple light over her, the effect was much warmer than on the LE640.
The blue-black problem, where black and near-black areas showed a decided bluish tint, did show its head occasionally. The competing Vizio E601i performed better in terms of near-black tone.
Video processing: While the 24p playback test ("I Am Legend") was smooth, the 1080i playback test with its oscillating grid showed some strobing. This could create some artifacts with 1080i-based material originating on film, although they'll surely be subtle, so this isn't a major problem. The 650U's motion resolution is standard for a 120Hz TV.
Uniformity: Uniformity was an issue for the previous year's television, and it's no surprise that the issue hasn't changed on the LE650. While it was acceptable there were some issues in the top-left corner -- both black and color uniformity were off. However, both Sharp TVs performed better than the LG LM7600, which had very poor uniformity with yellow blotches of leaking light. When viewed off-axis the LE650 also performed identically to the LE640 with desaturated colors and blueish blacks.
Bright lighting: The big Sharp is well suited to a bright space. It has a matte screen, and like the LE640 before it, performs well in a lit room with contrast and deep blacks equal to its peers'.
Sound quality Televisions like the LE650 ably demonstrate why sound bars are becoming more popular -- the tiny bezel usually equals poor sound. Last year's LE640 sounded pretty good with a forward-facing speaker, but this year it's been tucked in and faces down. The result is a hollower, less present sound, and speech particularly suffers.
However, with rock music and action movies there has been a slight improvement in bass response. Compared to the other TVs in the lineup, the LE650 was nearer the bottom while the Panasonic ST50 came out best with full bass, clear vocals, and plenty of treble. The only TV that was worse than the Sharp was the LG LM7600, which distorted our Nick Cave test track.
|GEEK BOX: Test||Result||Score|
|Black luminance (0%)||0.006||Good|
|Avg. gamma (10-100%)||2.18||Good|
|Avg. grayscale error (10-100%)||1.2||Good|
|Near-black error (5%)||0.619||Good|
|Dark gray error (20%)||1.744||Good|
|Bright gray error (70%)||0.825||Good|
|Avg. color error||1.84783333333333||Good|
|1080p/24 Cadence (IAL)||Pass||Good|
|1080i Deinterlacing (film)||Fail||Poor|
|Motion resolution (max)||700||Average|
|Motion resolution (dejudder off)||330||Poor|
|Input lag (Game mode)||58.0||Average|