If you're looking for a portable telly with a difference, then Sharp's incoming 20-inch Aquos Wireless Lifestyle TV could be right up your street. First unveiled for the Japanese market back in April, this 720p LED TV made its European debut at the recent IFA trade show. A specific UK price and release date have yet to be announced, but Sharp has put a €900 price tag on the screen, which equates to around £795. We tested the telly out and these are our first impressions.
Sharp has been down the battery-powered portable telly road before, but those early Aquos designs don't hold a candle to its swish new Aquos Wireless Lifestyle TV. Available in white, black and pink, these LED edge-lit TVs are light, funky and come with pull-out carry handles.
Rather bizarrely, Sharp will also sell a wall-hook widget, which you can hang the TV set from when you're not carting it around the house. The mount looks like it'll fall right off the wall, but Sharp seems to be convinced it's safe.
The slim-line TV partners with a set-top box transmitter that incorporates dual digital and analogue TV tuners. Sound and vision are then transmitted via Wi-Fi. The nominal range is said to be around 20m.
The back of the TV is gently curved and incorporates a simple fold-out stand, allowing you to prop it up pretty much anywhere. Sharp reckons you can use the TV in the garden, but we don't think you'll see very much when the sun starts reflecting off the screen.
That would be a shame, as the image quality is pretty decent. Even as we waltzed around with the TV, we didn't spot any unwanted image artefacts. The panel has a resolution of 1,366x768 pixels and gives a crisp, colourful picture.
At the heart of the set is a punchy LCD panel, delivering a contrast ratio of 400,000:1. On a screen as small as this, edge-mounted LEDs don't present any real problems as far as uniformity is concerned, and the black level is deep and impactful.
Sharp could have used a routine 50Hz display, but it's thrown in 100Hz picture processing to reduce image blur. This should make the telly good for the footie.
The user interface is also ice-cool. We particularly like the on-screen touch-sensitive controls.
The mains-locked transmitter box has four HDMI inputs, so a broad collection of kit can be connected. You can just as easily watch a DVD or Blu-ray as you saunter around the house as you can off-air TV.
There are also USB and Ethernet connections. The latter gives access to Sharp's own Net+ Internet TV portal, which offers a mix of pay and free media, plus around 70 different apps. Sharp still has some way to go before it can match the online offerings of its rivals, but to have Internet connectivity on such a small TV is more than welcome.
The screen is also DLNA-compliant, which means you can stream MP3s from a networked PC. Don't expect to rock out, though. The audio system is little more than functional, so, when you go walkies, don't head anywhere noisy.
The tuner box can host a CI card slot for pay TV programming. The USB inputs can be used either to play back media files or for basic programme recording. Just hook up an external drive and use the electronic programme guide to schedule your recordings.
Sharp's Aquos Wireless Lifestyle TV is pretty swanky by any measure. But the €900 price tag seems painfully excessive. Also, in the age of the all-conquering tablet, there's something rather quaint about the concept of a small, portable telly, no matter how cute it is.
Edited by Charles Kloet