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Review: Sharp 70-inch LCD TV

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This year Sharp Electronics came out with some of the biggest LED-based LCD TVs yet. The 70-inch model LC-70LE732U in this review isn’t even the company’s biggest (Sharp also offers an 80-inch version) but it’s got a lot to like.

So what’s 70-inches like in a room? Sharp points out that it’s the equivalent of nine 19-inch TVs put together or 62 percent larger than a 55-inch TV. That’s bound to make an impression on football night.

While edge-lit LED TVs seem to be the norm these days because they’re less expensive to make and allow the TV to maintain a thin profile, Sharp wisely went with full-array back lighting for this unit. Although this model doesn’t include local dimming of the LEDs, the backlight does contribute to picture uniformity. The other main picture quality feature is the 120Hz refresh rate. While that may sound diminutive compared to the 240 and 480Hz numbers posted on other TVs, I found it sufficient for this set. Sometimes that processing can do more harm than good, and on this set it seemed about right.

The LC-70LE732U comes with all of Sharp’s most current innovations including Quattron technology which adds a yellow sub pixel to the standard red, blue and green makeup. The additional sub pixel is supposed to expand the TV’s color gamut to produce a wider range of colors which in theory makes a more accurate picture. The only thing it’s lacking is 3D, though opinions vary on how important a feature that is anyway (Sharp does offer a 3D version, the LC-70LE735U).

Setting up TVs today has gotten a lot easier. Sharp’s system is pretty straight-forward with no picture-setting guides or on-screen instructions, but the menu is clear, responds quickly to the remote, and all the settings include a brief description in case you’re not familiar with Sharp’s naming jargon. (On the other hand, the set includes built-in online help if you have it connected to the internet.) The advanced picture menu offers hue, saturation, value, gamut range and an active contrast feature for optimizing black levels.

On the back of the TV you get four HDMI inputs, Ethernet, full-sized analog inputs (no adapters needed) and an RS-232 port for control. This TV also features IP control, which is a nice option to have if you’re considering a control system. Wi-Fi is also built in for users who don’t have easy access to a wired internet connection.

Sharp offers two avenues to smart TV content. On the right side of the remote is an Apps button which brings a menu on the bottom of the screen for the premium services like Netflix, Pandora, CinemaNow, Blockbuster, Napster, Vudu and AQUOS Advantage Live (Sharp’s online help). On the other side of the remote you have a button for AQUOS Net which pops up a menu taking up half the screen for quick access to traffic info, news, weather and other online widgets. I like this interface because it lets you check out quick info while keeping your TV program onscreen in a large window—being that this is such a big TV that picture window is still 34 inches!

On test patterns and video content the TV showed itself to be very adept at issues like diagonal motion which can introduce jagged edges. Across the wide field, brightness was consistent, and subtle gradations in blacks, grays and colors displayed smoothly without any awkward blockiness. I’ve seen better contrast on plasmas and LEDs with local dimming, but even without the dimming feature, blacks look good. Also, you’ll find that this TV is very bright, making it a good choice for rooms with windows where light might be an issue. The matte anti-glare screen also helps. Keep in mind, there are several 55- and 60-inch TVs that cost as much as this one.

Overall, Sharp put together a strong package. A 70-inch screen is an impressive sight in any living room. Add the good performance match, plus a reasonable price, and the only problem you’ve got is how to keep the neighbors from looking in your window.

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