Sharp LC-L1U review: Sharp LC-L1U

Sharp LC-L1U

David Katzmaier

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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4 min read

Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.


Sharp LC-L1U

The Good

Wireless TV with big 15-inch screen; controls other gear over a Wi-Fi connection; slick detachable stand; lots of inputs.

The Bad

So-so battery life; limited range; prone to interference; somewhat bulky.

The Bottom Line

This expensive gadget works well to deliver TV without wires, as long as it remains close to the base station.
The first so-called wireless TV, the LC-15L1U-S looks much like a standard 15-inch LCD , complete with a stand and built-in speakers. But a handle on the top signifies the TV's portability: when you connect an antenna, a cable TV box, a DVD player, or a VCR to the included base station, you can watch those sources anywhere in the house.
Sharp's package consists of a base station and the TV itself. We found the little TV's styling funky, to say the least; just about everyone in the CNET office commented on the set's rounded earlike speakers. Looks aside, the design is practical but for a few problems. We like the handle, and the included stand easily detaches from the monitor itself, but the entire thing is quite heavy and unwieldy at 14 pounds with the stand. You'll also have to remember to bring the wireless remote with you (a built-in caddy would have been nice), as well as the remote controls of any gear you're operating, such as a DVD player or a cable box.
That's right--you can control your video sources through the LC-15L1U-S. We tested the hookup by plugging the included IR blaster into the base station and running its two emitters to the IR receiving ports of various gear in our A/V testing room. It worked better than we expected; all of the gear we tested worked as usual when we pointed the original equipment's remote at the Sharp LCD TV, even when the TV, the remote, and ourselves were 50 feet away from the base station and the gear. We experienced about a two-second delay flipping channels, but that's not too bad.
Compared to Sony's LF-X1, a competing wireless TV due to arrive this fall, the LC-15L1U-S has a larger screen and one extra input, for a total of two composite-video, one RF, and one composite/S-Video connection. Unlike the Sony, however, it can't browse the Internet or access and control A/V equipment via an Internet connection. The LC-15L1U-S is strictly for audio/video.
We found video quality more than adequate for casual TV viewing. The image looked bright enough (important for a set that's likely to see time under the outdoor sun), there was no lip-sync delay, and viewing the screen from off-angle didn't affect brightness or color very much. Since the TV has an input on its back, in addition to the inputs on the base station, we were able to compare wired with wireless picture quality. The wireless transmission definitely looked worse; for example, scenes from the Alien DVD showed more false contouring around the rings of the planet and more video noise and contours in the fog around the lights as the explorers approach the crashed alien ship.
The Sharp uses the 802.11b standard for transmission, which will result in interference from cordless phones, microwaves, and other 2.4GHz devices. Our environment at CNET is pretty crowded; there were no fewer than eight wireless networks active during our testing period, and that may have contributed to the fairly unimpressive range results. We were able to take the TV about 40 feet from the base station, through two walls, before the picture began to freeze intermittently, and by 65 feet, it was unwatchable due to breakup and freezing. Long-term tests conducted about 50 feet away from the base station also resulted in some breakup but not enough to prove really distracting. We'd consider 50 feet the outer limit of the set's range in our office, although with fewer obstacles in a less Wi-Fi-crowded environment, the range may increase.
The battery averaged about three hours at normal brightness, and about half that in Bright mode, which would most likely be used outside during daylight hours. This is a pretty significant flaw, especially considering the length of today's Major League Baseball games.
Overall, we were mildly impressed by the LC-15L1U-S, but we doubt that many folks will want to put down the cash for this kind of novelty item. It's certainly a herald of television designs to come, however, and if you really want a nice-size portable TV to cart around the house, there aren't any alternatives until the Sonys arrive this fall.
Before color temp (20/80)8,929/7,728KPoor
After color tempN/A 
Before grayscale variation+/- 2,074KPoor
After grayscale variationN/A 
Color decoder error: red-5%Good
Color decoder error: green-5%Good
DC restorationAll patterns stableGood
2:3 pull-down, 24fpsNPoor
Defeatable edge enhancementYGood

Sharp LC-L1U

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 6