Sharp is pitching the LC-60UQ10EN as a halfway house between Full HD TVs and newer, more expensive 4K sets. It has a native Full HD resolution, but it can accept 4K signals via its HDMI port and then downscale them to fit the native resolution. Sharp also claims that the TV delivers better looking pictures than other Full HD sets because it has more subpixels and can manipulate them to deliver better clarity. Subpixels are the tiny dots that are grouped together to create each individual pixel on an LED screen. The TV will be available for around £1,900 from John Lewis stores during March and then go on general sale after that.
2D picture quality
It's been a quite a while since I last had one of Sharp's Quattron screens in for review and in the intervening time it's fair to say the technology hasn't exactly set the TV market alight. Most tellies have red, green and blue subpixels that are used to form the individual pixels that make up an LED screen, but Sharp's Quattron TVs have an extra yellow subpixel. Sharp claims this allows its sets to deliver more colours and brighter images.
The QU10 is one of its new Quattron Pro sets and actually has eight subpixels, rather than the four on older Quattron models. As a result the company is claiming that this TV is now Quasi-4K, because the set can control these subpixels in groups of two to delver higher apparent resolution. It's worth bearing in mind that the panel's native resolution is still Full HD, it's just that Sharp is claiming that it can get better 'perceived' resolution from the panel by manipulating the subpixels to give a sense of extra resolution under certain circumstances. It's a bit like the subpixel rendering that computers do to make the curves on fonts look smoother on our screens.
Since the last time I looked at a Quattron Screen, Sharp has made a big improvement to colour reproduction. This one doesn't exhibit the sort of push in the yellow colours that made skintones look unnatural and sallow on older models. Instead, colours here are on the whole a strong point. I still don't see any evidence that the extra yellow subpixel improves the image in any discernible way, but it certainly doesn't degrade it. On better presets, such as the THX Cinema mode, colours are bold and strong with plenty of punch.
Annoyingly, as the QU10 onboard media player doesn't work with 4K files, I couldn't feed any 4K content into the set. The Quattron drive technology, however, is meant to have a beneficial impact on Full HD pictures, increasing apparent resolution. Did it work? Not really. It looks a tiny bit sharper than the standard drive mode, but back to back with a Full HD Samsung plasma, I didn't rate the picture quality as any sharper, so I wouldn't buy this set thinking it's going to make your Blu-rays look like 4K films.
It's a good performer in terms of motion, although weirdly you can only fully turn off the motion processing in the THX Cinema preset. In the standard-movie preset when you turn motion processing off, there's still some being applied to the picture.
The TVs major weakness is its black levels. Black levels are important as they tend to give a picture more depth and clarity in darker scenes, helping to boost the apparent contrast in images. The QU10 doesn't have any of the dimming technology that high-end LED screens usually use these days to achieve deeper black levels. The result is that its black performance isn't great. When it's showing a predominantly dark picture, such as end credits in a movie, you can clearly see blotches of lighter areas bleeding through from the backlight. This issue also invades on dark, noir-ish scenes in movies, where the bottom left-hand areas of the picture can looks a tad grey.
The TV's viewing angles aren't all that wide either. If you're watching the set from an angle, say if you're sitting on an arm chair that's a good bit off centre from the screen, the colours tend to look washed out and take on a greyish, blue-ish tint.
On the whole though, while the QU10's picture quality isn't right up there with the very best LED screens, it's certainly good for such a large screen at this price.
3D picture quality
Previously sharp hasn't included 3D glasses with its 3D TVs, instead leaving you to buy them as an optional extra if you want to step into the third dimension. It's changed that policy on this TV though, as there are now two pairs of specs included in the box.
The TV uses active rather than passive 3D technology, so the glasses are powered, and you will see some flickering on ambient light in the room when you're watching. Sadly the set's overall 3D performance is poor. There's far too much crosstalk, not just on sharp bright edges, which is where you usually see it on LED sets, but even on characters faces when watching Hugo in 3D, for example.
This is especially true in the scene where the two young characters are having a conversation in the snow. It's actually very distracting and the only way to tone it down is to manually reduce the 3D depth using the TV's controls. This drastically reduces the 3D effect so it's not really a solution. There also seems to be no way to turn off motion processing in 3D, which is a tad annoying as it makes motion look overly smooth on film content.
Its 3D pictures aren't all that bright either, even when you crank up the 3D brightness boost setting all the way to High, so 3D images don't have the same strikingly vivid colours that you get with high-end sets from the likes of LG and Samsung. When it comes to delivering shadow detail in 3D, darker scenes can look flat and featureless, where you should be able to tell apart subtle shades of grey.
It's safe to say that the menu system on this telly is not the easiest to find your way around. Compared to systems used on LG and Samsung TVs, for example, it looks very sedate, with the basic icons and text-heavy menus giving it an old fashioned look and feel. The menu system comprises a banner across the top with the options for various functions shown in a column down the right-hand side. It's a little bit reminiscent of Sony's old XrossBarMenu (XBM) system used on its older TVs and the PS3.