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Overview

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.

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Quattron up close

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.

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Side view

Sharp thinned the TV's dimensions to 1.6 inches deep.

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Corner detail

A relatively slim bezel helps keep the Sharp compact, but its looks are a bit generic.

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Stand detail

The low-profile stand allows the TV to swivel.

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Remote control

Thinner and longer than most clickers, Sharp's wand is plagued by lack of backlight and insufficient differentiation between the mostly too-small keys.

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Favorite apps buttons

One great feature, however, is the trio of programmable buttons that provide instant access to your favorite apps.

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Inputs

The HDMI, USB, and a few other ports are mounted along the side and bottom of the input area.

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Main menus

The menus appear to the top and side of the TV image, shrinking it but not obscuring anything.

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Menu explanations

Explanations pop up when you select a menu item.

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Color Management System

Sharp's color management system lets a calibrator dial in more accurate color despite the extra yellow pixel.

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Aquos Advantage Live

Aquos Advantage Live is Sharp's excellent live help feature, which we described in 2009.

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Glossary

Sharp's excellent onscreen help section includes a full user menu, FAQ and even a glossary of terms.

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Aquos Net

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.

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Netflix interface

Sharp gets the newer Netflix interface with search and a browsing grid.

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Apps

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.

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Picture Quality

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.

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