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Sharp LC-70LE73U (photos)

For people craving a colossal flat-screen TV who don't want a plasma or a projector, the 70-inch Sharp LC-70LE73U series LED-based LCD offers very good picture quality, especially in bright rooms.

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David Katzmaier
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Overview

Unless you have $22,000 or more to spend, the 70-inch Sharp LC-70LE732U is the biggest flat-panel TV you can buy today--the competition maxes out at 65 inches. Moreover, it's a pretty good deal by giant-TV standards, available for less than $3,000 at press time. Sure, rear-projection models offer more screen size for the buck, but judging from past testing, they can't match the picture quality or design of this Sharp. The fact that it's one of the most popular TVs on CNET this summer proves that huge TVs are gaining mainstream appeal.

Compared with the better big plasmas, the LC-70LE73U series won't perform as well in the dark confines of a home theater, but the brighter the room, the more its light output advantage shines through. At these screen sizes energy efficiency is also an issue, and this 70-inch LED is a miser compared with power-hungry plasmas. No, it's not for everyone, but if you have at least 9 feet of space between your TV wall and your couch, and crave the immersion that only a huge screen can deliver, the Sharp LC-70LE73U series is worth a look.

Read the full review of the Sharp LC-70LE73U series

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Corner detail

In a TV this big, understated styling is a good thing. We described the LC-LE830U series as "a bit generic," and its big brother follows suit. The LC-70LE732U is mostly glossy black, with a medium-size bezel, slightly rounded corners, and a strip of silver trim along the bottom edge (the 733 and 734 have a darker trim).
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Stand detail

Sharp's matching stand doesn't swivel but does keep an admirably low profile.
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Side view

As a full-array LED, the LC-70LE73U can't achieve the thinness of its edge-lit brethren, but its size still makes its 3.5-inch depth seem slim enough when seen in profile.
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Remote

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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Remote detail

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

The Sharp's bay has all the necessary connectivity options, and we appreciated not having to use breakout cables for the analog jacks, as is the case with many thin LCDs and plasmas these days.
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Main menus

Sharp's 2011 menu system has been redesigned to appear above and to the right of the live image. Unfortunately for calibrators, the menu design can interfere more than normal with center-screen measurements, making setup more tedious than it needs to be.
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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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Netflix interface

Sharp gets the newer Netflix interface, with search and a browsing grid.
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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 of those available, 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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Aquos Advantage Live

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

Explanations pop up when you select a menu item.
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Glossary

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

The Sharp LC-70LE73U is one of the better-performing LED-based LCDs of the year, beating all of the edge-lit 2011 LED models we've tested with the exception of the Samsung UND6400 and LG LW5600. Its full-array LED backlight deserves much of the credit: while it doesn't deliver the black-level benefits of local dimming, it does improve uniformity compared with edge-lit models. That backlight also appeared to improve black levels and color in dark areas compared with Sharp's edge-lit 60-inch model.

Read the full review of the Sharp LC-70LE73U series

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