If you're looking for a big-screen TV of 60 inches or above, then Sharp should be one of the first brands you consider. Last year's LE640 was a decent buy, and its replacement is more of the same; furthermore, they're almost identical.

While there have been a couple of tweaks to the company's design and picture processing, not all of them have been successful, and the net result is the same -- the Sharp LE650 is a decent, though not exciting, television.

Its highlights are an expanded smart TV offering with Skype and Hulu Plus now standard, while in picture quality terms both color and shadow detail also gets a bump. On the flipside a smaller cabinet means sound quality is compromised and it doesn't perform as well with interlaced content.

At the price it's a pretty good deal, but this is only the first TV to show its head in 2013 -- I expect it will receive a lot of competition in the next nine months -- particularly from the likes of Vizio and its M series.

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Photo by: Sarah Tew/CNET

Picture quality

Is the LE650's picture quality a significant improvement on that of the TV that came before it? No. The new TV does some things a little better, but not enough to be considered a true upgrade. The LE650 has better color accuracy, particularly with cooler colors and skin tones, and it can read shadow detail more successfully than could its predecessor. Some of the image processing has been improved, while some, such as 1080i film deinterlacing, got worse.

Sound quality is considerably poorer -- with the new bezel the speakers have a hollower sound that can lead to less intelligible speech.

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Photo by: Sarah Tew/CNET


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