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Sharp LC-LE757U series review: Four pixel colors, three stars

The stylish, Quattron-equipped Sharp LC-LE757U series doesn't offer a very good picture for the price.

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Ty Pendlebury
Ty_Pendlebury.jpg
Ty Pendlebury Editor

Ty Pendlebury is a journalism graduate of RMIT Melbourne, and has worked at CNET since 2006. He lives in New York City where he writes about streaming and home audio.

Feature creep can be a problem when buying any new gadget, and it is especially prevalent when among televisions. You may think you just want something that can display a picture, but most companies want to sell you TVs with doodads that do little to enhance picture quality.

Sharp_LC-60LE757_35567060_09.jpg
6.4

Sharp LC-LE757U series

The Good

The <b>Sharp LC-LE757U series</b> LED LCD TV features elegant design and a good mix of features; smart TV suite now gives a full-screen option; sound quality is quite good.

The Bad

Colors are desaturated and cyan is overly blue; black levels are poorer than on the much-cheaper Sharp LE650 and shadow detail is also lacking; Quattron brings no picture quality benefits.

The Bottom Line

The stylish, Quattron-equipped Sharp LC-LE757U series doesn't offer a very good picture for the price.

Even some of the features that do promise better picture quality can potentially make it worse. Take, for example, Sharp's Quattron technology. The company has touted its four-color Quattron LCD technology since 2010, but it has so far failed to catch the public's imagination. This generation's Trinitron it isn't.

The LE757U is Sharp's cheapest Quattron-toting television, but at a minimum $300 premium over the sets below it, this is one feature that doesn't make sense. The LE757U delivered worse picture quality, with lighter black levels and less accurate color, than the cheaper LE650 without Quattron. As the only bonus feature apart from 3D, Quattron isn't an appealing upsell in this case. While my initial instinct at this price and a 60-inch size is to recommend the Panasonic ST60 plasma, if you want a big-screen LED LCD both the LE650 and the Vizio E series are better values than the LE757U.

Series information: I performed a hands-on evaluation of the Sharp LC-60LE757, 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.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Models in series (details)
Sharp LC-60LE757 60 inches
Sharp LC-70LE757U 70 inches
Sharp LC-80LE757U 80 inches

Design
The LE757U series is one of Sharp's sleekest-looking sets yet. The company has managed to shave a bit more off the bezel of the already slim LE650. The LE757U series features a smooth aluminum bezel that is noticeably classier than the plastic bezel of the cheaper model. The triangular power LED is still there in the center of the bezel but it's a shade subtler than before. The base of the Sharp is a simple, non-swiveling plastic affair and the TV squats low and close to the tabletop it's perched on.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The remote is a long wand that houses all of the buttons you'll need, including a "tweaker's-favorite" Menu button front and center. Shortcut buttons to the SmartCentral smart TV page, Netflix and three more that can be customized to jump right to apps of your choice round out what is a fairly handy clicker.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Apart from a new SmartCentral page, Sharp's menu system is identical to those of previous years. Navigation is top-loaded and scrolls left to right, and it is fairly easy to find the things you need.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Key TV features "="">
Display technology LCD LED backlight Edge-lit
Screen finish Matte Remote Standard
Smart TV Yes Internet connection Built-in Wi-Fi
3D technology Active 3D glasses included Two pairs
Refresh rate(s) 240Hz Dejudder (smooth) processing Yes
DLNA-compliant Photo/Music/Video USB Photo/Music/Video

Features
The Sharp is edge-lit and sadly doesn't feature any form of local dimming, but the panel itself does use one of the company's own Quattron LCDs. Sharp debuted its four-color Quattron technology in 2010 and it is still the only manufacturer to use a yellow pixel, but not the only one using four colors. LG's OLED uses a version of four-color with the addition of a white pixel, and the difference between the two technologies is that LG's aims to reproduce the RGB color space while Sharp claims it can create a larger color space -- larger than any available source, but it's interpolated, or "invented," by the TV itself.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The TV also features active 3D playback with two sets of glasses in the box. Sharp is a licensee of the Full HD 3D standard and so you can choose to use any of the compatible glasses, like Samsung's $20 El Cheapos, if you need more.

Smart TV: In 2012 only select Sharp models enjoyed the full smart TV suite, but this year it has been rolled out to the entire range -- with the exception of the 50-inch 6 series. The LE757U gives access to Hulu Plus, Pandora, and a Web browser in addition to old favorites like Netflix. It offers a typical number of apps, with Samsung, Sony and Roku at the top. Check out our big chart for the full rundown of every manufacturer's TV apps.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The LE757U, like other Sharp TVs, allows you to view the SmartCentral service in two different ways. Hit the SmartCentral button and you'll see the marquee clinging to the bottom of the screen with a few select apps. Hit it again and you'll get the full-screen interface divvied up into categories -- video, music, games, and so on.

Sharp's Web browser includes a "virtual mouse" function that uses the remote cursors, but it's not as responsive as more direct methods like LG's Magic Motion or the touch pad on some Panasonic and Samsung remotes. It should be used only when other browsers, whether on a PC, phone or tablet, are unavailable.

Picture settings: The TV offers the usual settings for a TV of this price, with a Color Management System offering fine-tuning of color reproduction and a 10-point grayscale for altering the color balance from black to white.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Connectivity: You have stuff to plug into a television, and the Sharp is able help you out by providing four HDMI (including one MHL-compatible) ports and two -- count 'em, two! -- composite inputs, as well as two more USB ports and only a single component input. Both wireless and wired data connections are available as well.

Picture quality
Let's face it, most TVs these days would look pretty good sitting in your lounge, but our job is to sort the good-enoughs from the greats. If you're paying the same amount of money why not get the best picture available?

The Sharp LE757U is firmly in the good-enough category. It produces a big image, and probably won't break, but against its peers and even the company's own TVs it isn't that competitive. Two things hurt it: light black levels and an overly blue cast. The Quattron's blacks can't hold a candle to the cheaper LE650's and its shadow detail is also not as accomplished. Color is undersaturated compared with even the other Sharp and the set's reproduction of secondary color cyan is almost nonexistent -- with our tests suggesting a bluer hue reminiscent of the Sharp Elite Pro, another Quattron-equipped TV.

Click the image at the right to see the picture settings used in the review and to read more about how this TV's picture controls worked during calibration.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Comparison models (details)
Sharp LC-60LE650 60-inch LED
LG 60PH6700 60-inch plasma
Samsung UN55F6400 55-inch LED
Vizio E601i-A3 60-inch LED
Panasonic TC-P55ST60 (reference) 55-inch plasma

Black level: The very dark "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" made plain the problems with the LC-LE757U when it comes to delivering both true blacks and shadow detail. During the mountaintop sequence, wherein the camera whips around Voldemort and his amassed army, the Sharp struggled to pick out any detail and the scene was obscured in blue-black cloud. The cheaper Sharp LE650 showed more detail in the figures and also the shape of the rock they were standing on -- something that was obscured on the LE757U.

The deeper blacks of the cheaper Sharp imbues pictures with a greater sense of depth and its superior shadow detail means you can see more of the intricacies in the darker scenes of darker movies. The LE757U has a slightly crushed look to shades nearest black. During the shot when Voldemort orders the attack to begin, for example, it looked flat and stripped of details like the clothing on the "soldiers" in comparison with all the other TVs in my lineup. There was a TV worse than the Sharp for pure blacks, though, for despite its excellent shadow detail, the LG plasma's gray blacks made its pictures look less solid.

Color accuracy: The colors of the Sharp LE757U were both visibly bluer and less saturated than the other TVs in the room. At first I thought it might be a calibration issue, but the same problems persisted even in the default movie mode.

In "The Tree of Life" (Chapter 5, 37.18) as the mother relaxes on the grass, her skin looked gray in comparison to on the other TVs and her dress looked blue where it should have been cyan. This may not sound like such a big deal, but cyan is increasingly used in feature films and shows like CSI as a lighting effect. If your TV can't reproduce it you're not seeing the scene as the director intended you to.

While the Samsung 6400 also has a little color desaturation going on, it doesn't suffer from the blue cast the Sharp has, nor does it have a problem with reproducing cyan.

As an aside, the exceedingly expensive Sharp Elite Pro also had a problem with reproducing cyan, and both it and the LE757U are based on Quattron LCD panels. Draw your own conclusions.

Video processing: The Sharp LE757U turned out a competent performance in our suite of video tests, only erring a little on one part of the 1080i upconversion test. The television exhibited more flickering in the Film Resolution Loss Test test pattern than on the other TVs -- including the LE650 -- but was very good on the subsequent slow pan of the stadium, with no moire and no jerking. The 24p test from "I Am Legend" was free of pulldown errors and the screen was also able to get a high 1,150 lines of motion resolution with the AquoMotion 480 mode enabled. Gaming performance was a little lackluster in comparison though, with an average of 58.1ms lag with Game mode enabled.

Uniformity: While the cheaper LE650 has no visible issues with black uniformity, the LE757U does. The sample I received had large bluish blobs that shone through on a completely black screen. If you watch a lot of dark material these "blobs" could become distracting.

In addition, the LE757U has a very shallow sweet spot. You don't have to get very far off-axis to make blacks go blue -- you can do it sitting in your seat and moving your head. When completely off-axis the screen coating also takes on an "oil slick" look and colors desaturate even further.

Bright lighting: When viewed in a bright room, the color black presented by the LE757U isn't solid and is much bluer than the LE650. But the television was only a little bit more reflective than the LE650, and was able to reject some light reflections and was much better in this respect than the ST60.

Sound quality: While you may not have a say in where the TV is placed, I found it gave the best sound about 2 feet from the wall where the so-called "proximity effect" meant that the subwoofer was able to fill in the bottom register of speech quite effectively. Bass response wasn't as flatulent as with the Panasonic ST60's speaker, and vocals were quite clear and present. Sound quality was very similar between the two Sharp TVs though explosions had a little more impact on the LE757U and a little more ambient detail was available too. I didn't get to test the 70-inch or 80-inch in this series but the addition of a 15W subwoofer should boost these sets' bass capabilities even more.

3D: The default 3D mode (Standard) is incredibly blue, we're talking Smurfingly blue. Even switching to Movie doesn't make it less likely to wear white trousers and live in a red mushroom house. There were 120Hz errors (haloing) and a lot more ghosting or cross-talk than on the Samsung 6400. In sum, this Sharp set doesn't showcase 3D to anywhere near its full potential.

Geek box: Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.015 Average
Avg. gamma (10-100%) 2.28 Good
Avg. grayscale error (10-100%) 1.400 Good
Near-black error (5%) 1.197 Good
Dark-gray error (20%) 2.623 Good
Bright-gray error (70%) 0.625 Good
Avg. color error 1.591 Good
Red error 1.49 Good
Green error 1.725 Good
Blue error 2.021 Good
Cyan error 1.801 Good
Magenta error 0.911 Good
Yellow error 1.599 Good
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Pass Good
1080i Deinterlacing (film) Fail Poor
Motion resolution (max) 1150 Good
Motion resolution (dejudder off) 320 Poor
Input lag (Game mode) 58.1 Average

Sharp LE757 calibration notes

Sharp_LC-60LE757_35567060_09.jpg
6.4

Sharp LC-LE757U series

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 6Value 6
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