Last year, Sharp introduced its innovative Quattron LCD panels, but, in other ways, it fell behind its TV-making rivals -- its 3D models suffered from above-average levels of ghosting around images, and its sets also lacked Freeview HD tuners. The new range, to which the 3D-capable Aquos LC-40LE831E belongs, aims to change all that.
Priced at around £900, this 40-inch, 1080p, LED-illuminated Quattron LCD TV doesn't come cheap, but does its performance justify its high price tag?
Lighting on the edge
The LC-40LE831E uses edge-mounted LED backlighting, so its chassis is pretty much as slim as they come, measuring a mere 33mm deep. It's a good-looking TV when viewed from the front too, thanks to its narrow bezel and the silver strip that runs around the outer edge of the set.
The TV's four HDMI ports are all side-mounted for easy access, while the Scart, component, VGA and composite connections are found on the rear. Sharp has also kitted the TV out with two USB ports, so there's one free if you make use of the bundled Wi-Fi adaptor. The TV comes equipped with an Ethernet port too.
Unlike last year's models, this TV has a Freeview HD tuner so you get access to hi-def services from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4.
The LC-40LE831E also features Sharp's Aquos Net line-up of Internet features. Like similar offerings from Panasonic, Samsung and Sony, it includes support for a number of Internet video services. The presentation is pretty drab, though, and navigating the menus feels more sluggish than it does on other sets.
The line-up of video services is also poor. There's no iPlayer, for example, even though pretty much every other TV manufacturer in the UK now supports it. Instead, you get the likes of YouTube and Dailymotion, along with some more obscure services, such as iConcerts, which shows videos of old music gigs.
On the social-networking front, there's only a single app, used to access Twitter. The set does have a full Internet browser, so you can visit pretty much any site on the Web, but Flash isn't supported, the browser is difficult to use via the remote, and Sharp doesn't have a smart-phone app, like Sony does, to help speed up text entry. All in all, Aquos Net is rather disappointing.
The digital-media playback features are better, however. We tried USB playback with a range of formats, including HD MKV files, as well as DivX and Xvid videos, and found the TV had no problem playing any of them. It couldn't find any video content on our network, however.