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Sharp Aquos Quattron 830 review: Sharp Aquos Quattron 830

Sharp Aquos Quattron 830

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David Katzmaier
David_Katzmaier.jpg

David Katzmaier

Editorial Director -- TVs and streaming

David has reviewed TVs, streaming services, streaming devices and home entertainment gear at CNET since 2002. He is an ISF certified, NIST trained calibrator and developed CNET's TV test procedure himself. Previously David wrote reviews and features for Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as "The Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics."

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9 min read

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 subpixel 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.

sharp-lc-52le830u-52-class-52-03-viewable-aquos-le830-led-backlit-lcd-tv-smart-tv-1080p-fullhd-edge-lit-black.jpg
6.2

Sharp Aquos Quattron 830

The Good

The <b>Sharp LC-LE830U</b> has a picture with relatively accurate color in bright areas, good video processing, and the ability to handle bright rooms well. Its feature set offers excellent help and support options, built-in Wi-Fi, and a remote with three programmable keys to easily access favorite apps. It's also quite compact and energy-efficient.

The Bad

Reproduces lighter black levels; poor screen uniformity; dark areas tinged blue; separate interfaces for apps and widgets can be confusing; somewhat generic styling.

The Bottom Line

Although it's blessed with a solid feature set, the picture quality of Sharp LC-LE830U series falls short of most LED-based LCD TVs we've tested.

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 subpar 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.

Series information: We performed a hands-on evaluation of the 60-inch Sharp LC-60LE830U, but this review also applies to the other screen sizes in the series. All sizes have identical specs and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality. Most of the picture quality comments can also be applied to the LC-60LE832U, which is identical except for having a 240Hz refresh rate instead of the 830U's 120Hz.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Models in series (details)
Sharp LC-40LE830U 40 inches
Sharp LC-46LE830U 46 inches
Sharp LC-52LE830U 52 inches
Sharp LC-60LE830U (reviewed) 60 inches

Design


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

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Design highlights
Panel depth 1.62 inches Bezel width 1 inch
Single-plane face No Swivel stand Yes

While admirably compact with its thin bezel and panel, the LC-LE830U looks a bit generic. Its design consists of rounded corners, a glossy black frame, and a silvery bar below the frame on the bottom edge. One accent is provided by an illuminated ^ directly below the Sharp logo--it reminded us of the Star Trek insignia--that can be set to turn on or off depending on the TV's own power-on state.


The low-profile stand allows the TV to swivel.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Remote control and menus "="">Other: Three programmable "Fav App" keys on remote
Remote size (LxW) 9.4 x 1.9 inches QWERTY keyboardNo
Illuminated keys No IR device control No
Menu item explanations Yes Onscreen manual Yes

Thinner and longer than most clickers, Sharp's wand is plagued by lack of backlight and insufficient differentiation between the mostly too-small keys. One great feature, however, is the trio of programmable buttons that provide instant access to your favorite apps.

Sharp's 2011 menu system had been redesigned to appear above and 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. On the plus side, the menus are clear and respond quickly, and we appreciated the full manual--a carbon copy of the PDF version, complete with table of contents--available in the Aquos Advantage help section along with a glossary and FAQ.


Three programmable keys on the remote let you jump to your favorite apps.

Features

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Key TV features "="">Other: IP Control; Aquos Advantage Live help and remote troubleshooting.
Display technology LCD LED backlight Edge-lit
3D technology N/A 3D glasses included N/A
Screen finish Matte Internet connection Built-in Wi-Fi
Refresh rate(s) 120Hz Dejudder (smooth) processing Yes
DLNA compliant Photo/Music/Video USB Photo/Music/Video

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, and the Performance section of this review for detailed tests.

Beyond that the LC-LE830U is outfitted like a typical LED-based LCD, with an edge-lit LED backlight and 120Hz refresh rate. 3D is available on the company's step-up LC-LE835U series. One feature the LC-830U has over step-down models like the LC-LE831U series is Quad Pixel Plus, another Quattron-derived mode said to improve apparent resolution and smooth diagonal lines.

A couple of other extras are unique to Sharp. IP control is designed to interface with custom installation remote control systems, such as Control 4, AMX and Crestron, that can operate over Ethernet as opposed to RS-232. Aquos Advantage Live is Sharp's excellent live help feature, which we described in 2009.


Sharp's extra subpixel (bottom) adds yellow to the red, green, and blue mix.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Streaming and apps "="">Other: Blockbuster, CinemaNow, Alphaline, Napster streaming; Widgets include NBC Sports, WeatherBug, MSNBC News, Picasa, Framechannel and Navteq traffic; Vudu apps include Facebook, Pandora, Wikipedia, The New York Times news clips, etc
Netflix Yes YouTube No
Amazon Instant No Hulu Plus No
Vudu Yes Pandora Yes
Web browser No Skype No
Facebook Yes Twitter Yes

Like most other TV makers Sharp improved its Internet suite significantly for 2011. 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.

Compared to the 2011 suites from Samsung, Sony and Panasonic, Sharp's is a step behind in terms of streaming content offerings (Amazon Instant and YouTube are the missing links) and design--although Sharp does get the newer Netflix interface with search and a browsing grid. The addition of Vudu Apps makes up for a lot, but unfortunately it resides in a completely separate interface with many apps (Twitter and Picasa, for example) that duplicate ones found in Aquos Net.

Vudu's interface is clean and easy to navigate, and its apps are generally well-implemented, although they occupy the whole screen and so don't allow you to watch TV while using them (the exception is a stock ticker. Standouts include Nova and Nature, with access to numerous full episodes of the PBS staples (albeit in painfully low quality), Wikipedia and a solid selection of podcasts. We love that apps show star ratings, although we couldn't figure out where they came from, and we wish categories were finer given the numerous choices. Check out the Vudu Apps site for a full listing of available apps, but know that most of the premium show-based apps ("Dexter," "True Blood," etc) have clips and not full episodes.

The main Aquos Net interface, on the other hand, 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.

In Sharp's favor, we liked having a traffic widget--still uncommon among TVs and a boon to commuters--and appreciated the quick response times throughout. Compared to Vudu Apps, however, the main Aquos Net apps seems like a poorly executed afterthought.


The main streaming video services appear in a strip along the bottom of the screen.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Picture settings
Adjustable picture modes 6 Fine dejudder control No
Color temperature presets 5 Fine color temperature control 2 points
Gamma presets 5 Color management system Yes

The LC-LE830U isn't missing any major adjustments. We'd appreciate the ability to tweak dejudder beyond the two presets, but we'll take a color management system, especially one that works as well as Sharp's, over that extra any day. We like that the OPC ambient light sensor is prominently displayed in the main picture menu, and that Netflix and Vudu allow full picture control.


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

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Connectivity "="">Other: RS-232 remote control port
HDMI inputs 4 Component video inputs 1
Composite video input(s) 2 back, 2 side VGA-style PC input(s) 1
USB ports 2 Ethernet (LAN) port Yes

There's nothing major missing from the Sharp's bay, and we appreciated not having to use breakout cables, as is the case on many thin LCDs and plasmas these days.


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

Performance
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.

The Movie setting of the LC-LE830U is the most accurate out of the box, but it was still a bit subpar compared to the competition, with a minus-blue grayscale and quite a bit brighter than we'd like to see. Also, Movie's default color gamut is Expanded, which Sharp tells us is designed to show off the effects of the extra yellow pixel. In Expanded green and yellow color points are quite a bit outside the HD color standard, which is typical of such modes on other TVs.

Thanks to Sharp's excellent color management system, our calibration was able to bring those color points back into line and get generally excellent results, although the grayscale was still a bit off, especially in the middle range, and there was little we could do to help the blue-tinged lower end.

For our image quality tests we checked out the Blu-ray of "The Town" using the following comparison TVs.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Comparison models (details)
Vizio XVT3D650SV 65-inch edge-lit LED
Samsung UN46D6400 46-inch edge-lit LED
Sony KDL-46EX720 series 46-inch edge-lit LED
LG 47LW5600 47-inch edge-lit LED
Vizio XVT553SV 55-inch full-array LED
Panasonic TC-P50ST30 series 50-inch plasma
Pioneer PRO-111FD (reference) 50-inch plasma

Black level: The depth of black on the LC-LE830U measured at the bright end of our Average range (see the Geek Box below), and looked brighter (worse) than those of any other display in our lineup. The difference was most visible in dark scenes, such as the nighttime harbor cruise in Chapter 3 (29:30). The letterbox bars, night sky and water, and black jackets, for example, all appeared visibly lighter than the others. We tried engaging Active Contrast but the only impact it had was to crush shadow detail.

Details in shadows, such as the shoulder of Clair's jacket and the highlights in her hair (31:04) were more obscure than on most of the other displays, a result of darker gamma in near-black areas.

Color accuracy: As we mentioned above we achieved a solid color calibration regardless of the extra yellow pixel, which seemed to have little impact. Skin tones in bright scenes, for example the face of Clair in the cafe in Chapter 5, looked relatively accurate, if a bit bluer and slightly less saturated than our reference--an effect of the lighter black levels we suspect. .

The Sharp's worst aspect in this category was an overwhelming blue tinge in black and near-dark areas. The effect is common among LED-based LCDs, but for whatever reason much more noticeable on the LC-LE830U than on any of the other sets in our lineup. .

Video processing: The LC-LE830U's dejudder (smoothing) processing is controlled by the Film Mode setting. Both Advanced (High) and Advanced (Low) introduce dejudder, while Off yielded the correct 1080p/24 film cadence.

The Motion Enhancement control affects motion resolution and we saw no detriment to leaving it in the High setting, which hit about 600 lines, as opposed to Off, which measured between 300 and 400. Engaging this setting to maximize motion resolution didn't introduce dejudder, so we could leave it on and still get true film cadence without smoothing--a rarity among non-Samsung LCDs. As usual it was nearly impossible to discern blurring in any mode with normal program material.

Sharp says its Quad Pixel Plus can use the extra yellow subpixel to smooth diagonal lines slightly, but to our eye it was impossible to discern any difference between the On and Off positions from a normal seating distance. .

We were curious whether the big-screen Sharp LCD would show the same kind of smearing we saw on the Vizio XVT3D650SV, but checking the same scenes we didn't see it nearly as badly. .

Uniformity: The screen on the LC-LE830U was, along with that of the Vizio XVT3D650SV, among the worst in our lineup at showing even brightness across its surface. Perhaps other Sharp samples, or smaller sizes in the series, will be better, but our manufacturer-supplied 60-incher was poor.

A brighter spot in the middle of the screen was visible in numerous dark scenes, while the edges, in particular along the bottom, also appeared brighter than the rest of the screen--an effect that showed up strongly in letterbox bars. We also saw vertical bands of uneven brightness, which were especially visible in flat fields like skies and during camera movement.

Update June 21, 2011: Since this review published Sharp visited CNET and showed us a different LC-60LE830U sample that had somewhat better screen uniformity, although the edges and corners were still brighter compared to the middle. As usual these issues can vary from sample to sample, so the improved uniformity of a second manufacturer-supplied sample will not otherwise alter this review.

From off-angle the Sharp lost black level and color fidelity (becoming bluer-tinged) at about the same rate as the Samsung and Sony, and kept black level (but not color) marginally better than the LG and Vizios.

Bright lighting: The matte finish on the screen of the Sharp really helped in bright lighting situations, reducing the brightness of reflections in a way that was especially appreciable on the large screen. There was some small sacrifice in black levels compared to glossier screens like the Samsung and Vizio XVT3D650SV, but for bright rooms matte is clearly superior in our book.

PC: (updated June 21, 2011) The Sharp accepted and displayed a 1,920x1,080-pixel analog VGA source with no problem and delivered full resolution, with no softness and only minor edge enhancement, once we used the auto synch function. Our original report mentioned softness and imperfect resolution, but that was because we mistakenly failed to use auto synch.

Power consumption: We did not test the power consumption of this size in the Sharp LC-LE830U series, but we did test the 60-inch model. For more information, refer to the review of the Sharp LC-60LE830U.

Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.0193 Average
Avg. gamma 2.1478 Good
Near-black x/y (5%) 0.2651/0.255 Poor
Dark gray x/y (20%) 0.3125/0.3274 Good
Bright gray x/y (70%) 0.3128/0.3293 Good
Before avg. color temp. 6277 Poor
After avg. color temp. 6405 Good
Red lum. error (de94_L) 0.6653 Good
Green lum. error (de94_L) 0.6653 Good
Blue lum. error (de94_L) 1.1414 Good
Cyan hue x/y 0.2213/0.3241 Good
Magenta hue x/y 0.3228/0.1525 Good
Yellow hue x/y 0.4167/0.4985 Good
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Pass Good
1080i De-interlacing (film) Pass Good
Motion resolution (max) 600 Average
Motion resolution (dejudder off) 600 Average
PC input resolution (VGA) 1,920x1,080 Good

Sharp LC-60LE830U CNET review calibration results

(Read more about how we test TVs.)

sharp-lc-52le830u-52-class-52-03-viewable-aquos-le830-led-backlit-lcd-tv-smart-tv-1080p-fullhd-edge-lit-black.jpg
6.2

Sharp Aquos Quattron 830

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 5
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