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Sharp LC-80LE632U review: Sharp LC-80LE632U

Sharp LC-80LE632U

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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.

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5 min read

It's no secret why you're here; the lure of an 80-inch flat-panel television is too great for anyone to resist. Being the first one on the market, the Sharp LC-80LE632U is bound to attract a lot of attention, and despite some of its more obvious flaws, I think that it's a size I want to see more of. Building a television this size is an expensive undertaking, and you're inevitably paying a premium to be one of the first.

Sharp LC-80LE632U
5.9

Sharp LC-80LE632U

The Good

The gigantic, 80-inch <b>Sharp LC-80LE632U</b> is a mightily impressive television in the flesh, and it will instantly inspire envy in all who view it. The TV comes with a decent mix of features and handsome styling, and its matte screen improves the picture in bright rooms.

The Bad

The picture quality is underwhelming for the price you pay: lighter black levels and rosy reds mean it can't even keep up with cheaper (and inevitably smaller) LCD and plasma TVs. You'll need a really big room to put this in, with at least 10 feet of distance between the TV and the seating position. The screen is so large that most of the TV is off-axis to the viewer even at this distance. At this price we expect 3D compatibility, too.

The Bottom Line

If you're just looking to wow your friends or fill a wall, then the 80-inch Sharp LC-80LE632U is one of the best TVs you can buy, but ho-hum picture quality makes it a questionable value.

The downside is its less than impressive picture quality, namely poor black levels and inaccurate colors. The 80-inch LC-80LE632U is actually the same (high!) price as the 60-inch Sharp Elite PRO-60X5FD, which delivers a better picture in nearly every way. But even given the barrow full of gold you'll need to purchase this monster, and some of its foibles, the sheer size of the LC-80LE632U cannot help but blow many viewers away.

Editors' Note June 12, 2012: The rating on this review has been modified from 6 to 5.9 to reflect changes in the competitive marketplace since the initial publication.

Series information: Sharp offers other TVs that also have a 632U model name, namely the 70-inch LC-70LE632U and the 60-inch LC-60LE632U, but they're different enough from the 80-inch model that this review does not apply to them.

Design
The size of this TV will have your mouth agape from your first moments of trying to pull it out of the box. According to Sharp, the LC-80LE632 is the "largest LED TV in America," and if you want to go bigger in a flat panel, you're going to have to get a commercial screen like the 103-inch Panasonic TH-103PF12U (and pay up to 20 times more). At 132 pounds, the Sharp is one of the heaviest TVs this side of a CRT, and you'll definitely need a friend to help you lift it.

The design is pure Sharp, with the triangular power light the company debuted in 2010. The bezel is two-tone black, but frankly, in comparison with the overwhelming size of the panel itself the company could have decorated the perimeter with tastefully arranged roadkill and you'd scarcely notice. Thankfully, they chose not to, and the TV looks stylish for it.

The remote control is a little busy with quite a few buttons, and the position of the Net Aquos button to the left of the thumbpad (where Exit usually is) is annoying as it means if you accidentally hit it you'll have to wait for the "smart" interface to load instead of exiting.


The Sharp is equivalent in length to a person of 6 feet, 8 inches in height.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Key TV features "="">Other: Aquos Advantage Live Internet-connected live help and troubleshooting, onscreen manual, IP control
Display technology LCD LED backlight Full-array without local dimming
Screen finish Matte Remote Standard
Smart TV YesInternet connection Built-in Wi-Fi
3D technology N/A 3D glasses included N/A
Refresh rate(s) 120Hz Dejudder (smooth) processing Yes
DLNA compliant Photo/Music/Video USB Photo/Music/Video

Features
Let's face it, the only feature this Sharp needs is size. Everything else is secondary.

Sharp has chosen to eliminate one key feature though: 3D compatibility. And for a TV of this price that's pretty unusual. But then again, you could argue that's what Imax is for. If you really want 3D in your 80-incher, Sharp just started shipping the LC-80LE544U; both it and the 632U reviewed here will remain in the company's lineup throughout 2012.

Although 4K resolution might show some benefits at this size, Sharp stuck with mere 1080p resolution. The full-array LED backlight means the screen is illuminated from the rear and not the side. Unlike full-array sets such as the Elite, however, the 632U doesn't offer local dimming.

Other features are up there with what you'd expect from a midrange television. Smart TV is accounted for, as is a Web browser, but navigating a Web page with a remote is something most people won't want to do unless both their laptop and phones have conked out. Built-in Wi-Fi is nice to have.

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 the RS-232 standard. Aquos Advantage Live is Sharp's excellent live help feature. I appreciated the full onscreen manual--a carbon copy of the PDF version, complete with table of contents.


The Smart TV interface is separate and quick.

Smart TV: From Vizio to Google to Sharp, small pop-up Smart TV menus are de rigueur at the moment and it makes a lot of sense. Who wants to wait while their TV's operating system loads when they just want to jump into Netflix anyway? The pop-up sticks up a little bit further than a ticker bar, and is easily navigated using the left and right keys. In addition to Netflix, users also gain access to CinemaNow and Vudu, but miss out on Hulu Plus and Amazon. Check out the full list of included apps here.

Picture settings: The TV offers plenty of different modes, but none of them are entirely lifelike--even the movie mode. Gamers may like the Vyper Drive system behind the Game mode, which is designed to reduce input lag. The settings menu is well-laid-out and easy to access without multiple submenus *cough Google TV cough*.

The TV offers a number of tweaks in its advanced CMS and Color Temp menus, but as we note below, in our experience it isn't possible to correct its red tones.


The settings menu is as friendly as you'd want.

Connectivity
The major connectivity options of the Sharp are four HDMI ports, two USB ports and onboard wireless. There are some legacy ports--twin AV inputs and a component--for if you still have older machines hanging about, and so most users should find the TV will accommodate most setups. For a complete list of inputs and outputs, check out the specifications tab on this page.


You get four HDMIs for new equipment, and a selection of legacy connectors for older stuff, too.

Picture quality
At this price the Sharp is basically a "cost is no object" purchase, but it doesn't behave like one in terms of picture quality. Poor black levels and inaccurate color mean that while everything may seem "rosy" the pictures lack the punch of TVs a fraction of the price. Even its stablemate, the 70-inch LC-70LE732U, is capable of better pictures at less than half the cost.

Still, there's something intangible about the Sharp's huge image that left me a little in awe. Being able to fill my vision with screen means program material, especially high-quality sources like Blu-ray, becomes more immersive and enjoyable in nearly every way.

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-60LE640U 60-inch edge-lit LED
Sony Bravia KDL-55NX720 55-inch edge-lit LED
Vizio Razor M3D550SR 55-inch edge-lit LED
Sharp Elite PRO-60X5FD (reference) 60-inch full-array LED

Black level: As I've already mentioned, black levels are not the strong suit of this television. If that's what you're after, then the amazing Sharp Elite is the same price, if not quite as giant. Like many LCD TVs the Sharp 60LE640U uses global backlight dimming to give the illusion of a darker black level, but it also played merry havoc with our testing equipment. While the geek box may indicate very good blacks, in real-world usage the 80-incher was the most washed-out-looking in our lineup, especially during dark scenes with letterbox bars.

On the other hand, shadow detail was great in intricate scenes, like the fly-by of the darkened Romulan ship in "Star Trek," showing plenty of detail.

Color accuracy: Despite our best efforts at adjustment, colors didn't look as natural as on the comparison TVs. Further, the offset red meant that skin tones looked too rosy. The modern Captain Kirk gets around in his underpants a lot more than the '60s version, and this combined with the movie's vibrant color palette makes a good tester for natural colors. Unfortunately, most of the Enterprise crew members--with their clothes on, of course--looked like they'd been jogging recently, as they looked a little too flushed.

Grays were also shot through with small flecks of color, but as you'd only see this in title screens or test patterns, it's not too big of a deal.

Video processing: Though it's a bare-bones set in terms of features, the company hasn't skimped on processing power. The TV was able to convey 24p content in a natural way without any stuttering judder, and 1080i content was delivered without jaggies.

Activating 120Hz mode can improve motion resolution without adding additional smoothness, so there's no reason not to. When I did turn on smoothing, via the Film Mode setting, the hazy artifacts around moving figures proved too distracting for critical watching.

Uniformity: As a full-array set, the Sharp isn't plagued by the backlight uniformity issues of the edge-lit sets. However, due to the sheer size of the set another issue arises. Unless you're a football field away you're going to be sitting off-axis to more than a fair chunk of the screen. At a distance of the 1.5x the diagonal screen size (10ft), which is recommended for the most immersive image, you'll have a sweet spot that fills only about a third of the screen, and then a subtle gray patina emerges over the edges, particularly in dark scenes.

Bright lighting: The Sharp has a matte screen, which is ideal for using in a well-lit room. As the TV has lower-than-average blacks it also looks better with the lights on and would suit larger groups watching the game, or even a gaming session, if Xbox is more your thing.

Power consumption: Thanks to the Energy Star ratings system, most LCDs use little more energy than a common lightbulb, and from here on in you won't actually see CNET power consumption data for them. The Sharp is a specialized case though: it's huge. Therefore it sucks up more power than most and is worth testing. Uncalibrated, the TV used 179W, while when calibrated to our 40 Fl light output standard, this behemoth only used 120W.

Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.005758467 Good
Avg. gamma 2.3723 Average
Near-black x/y (5%) 0.3008/0.3132 Average
Dark gray x/y (20%) 0.3129/0.3318 Good
Bright gray x/y (70%) 0.3131/0.3292 Good
Before avg. color temp. 7032.425 Poor
After avg. color temp. 6451.7595 Good
Red lum. error (de94_L) 1.1536 Good
Green lum. error (de94_L) 1.7887 Average
Blue lum. error (de94_L) 30.0183 Poor
Cyan hue x/y 0.2245/0.3283 Good
Magenta hue x/y 0.3237/0.1574 Good
Yellow hue x/y 0.4193/0.5028 Good
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Pass Good
1080i De-interlacing (film) Pass Good
Motion resolution (max) 620 Average
Motion resolution (dejudder off) 330 Poor
PC input resolution (VGA) 1,920x1,080 pixels Good

Sharp Lc 80le632u

Read more about how we test TVs.

Sharp LC-80LE632U
5.9

Sharp LC-80LE632U

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 6Value 5
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