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Sharp LC-60LE636E review

Sharp begins its 'big screen, small price' campaign

Our Verdict

For

  • Unbelievably cheap
  • Mostly good picture
  • Nice design
  • Decent audio

Against

  • Backlight problems
  • Poor online system
  • Some operational foibles
  • Motion processing requires care

At this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2012), Sharp's stand really stood out.

Not because it was particularly cutting edge (although it did have an 8k resolution TV), but because of the striking simplicity and attractiveness of its core message. It said that Sharp is going to sell really big screens for really small amounts of money.

This idea sounded good to us, and now its first fruits are here in the shape of the Sharp Aquos LC-60LE636E - also shortened to Sharp Aquos LE636. This brooding 60-inch TV has a full UK price of £2,599 (about $4,150), but is already available in some stores for just £1,295 (about $2,067).

This truly is extraordinarily cheap when you consider that, for instance, the Samsung UE60D8000 costs £3,000 in the UK, or $4,200 in the US.

Sharp Aquos LC 60LE636E review

The suspicion has to be, of course, that Sharp has really slashed the performance and features of its new 60-inch television to hit such a remarkable price level.

But a glance at its spec sheet uncovers such reassuring features as a Freeview HD tuner, 100Hz processing with 'film dejudder', multimedia playback via DLNA or USB, USB Time Shift support and Sharp's Aquos Net+ online platform.

Here's hoping this surprisingly long list of features doesn't mean that Sharp has saved all its cost-based compromises for the Aquos LE636's picture quality.

The Sharp Aquos LE636's size obviously makes it a TV that sits relatively high up in Sharp's range.

Sharp Aquos LC 60LE636E review

But as testament to how Sharp is following through on its bigger-screen policy, it sits below no less than four other sets: the 60-inch LC-60LE831E (which adds Sharp's Quattron technology); two 70-inch models, the 70LE836E and 70LE741E; and most jaw-droppingly of all, the imminent 80-inch LC-80LE646E.

But for now, let's find out if Sharp's debut budget biggie, the Aquos LC-60LE636E, is as appealing in the flesh as it sounds on paper.

Features

Just in case you didn't pick up on this yet, the Sharp LC-60LE636E is a 60-inch TV that can be found retailing in some places for as little as £1,295 (about $2,067).

So potent an attraction is this, it's tempting to just leave this section of the review and move on. But Sharp's ridiculously tempting big-screen bargain has plenty more tricks up its sleeve.

For a start, it's surprisingly good looking. You might well have expected such a value-driven TV just to house its vast screen acreage inside a boring, no-frills plastic frame.

But the bezel is pretty eye-catching, thanks to both its impressive slimness and its classy, high-gloss black finish. The little illuminated (if you want it to be) Sharp 'swish' symbol along the bottom edge is attractive too.

The Sharp Aquos LC-60LE636E isn't especially slim around the back by today's standards. But if this is one of the areas where Sharp has had to compromise in order to keep pricing down, that's just fine by us. After all, you don't sit there looking at the back of your massive telly, do you?

Sharp Aquos LC 60LE636E review

The TV's connections are very respectable for its price, too. Most of the important jacks are arranged for sideways access, to make the screen easier to wall hang, and they include, for instance, four HDMIs - as many as you'll find on the most premium of rival sets.

Plus you get both USB and LAN multimedia jacks, and even Wi-Fi, courtesy of an included USB adaptor.

The USB port can play photo, music and video (including DivX HD) files, or else it can be used for recording from the built-in tuner - a tuner that, incidentally, can receive HD and standard definition Freeview broadcasts.

The network options, meanwhile, can play back files from a connected DLNA PC, or they can enable you to go online with Sharp's Aquos Net+ platform.

Sharp's Aquos Net+ is currently rather off the pace compared with some other big-brand TV online systems.

Sharp Aquos LC 60LE636E review

Based on Philips' NetTV platform, the only really handy services available at the time of writing are YouTube, Picasa, an open web browser and, to a lesser extent, the Box Office 365/Napster/HIT Entertainment subscription services.

Aquos Net still doesn't have BBC iPlayer, which has become standard fare with all the other big TV brands.

The Sharp Aquos 60LE636's huge screen is illuminated by Edge LED lighting, contains an inevitable Full HD resolution, and drives its pictures with a 100Hz system, to counter judder and motion blur.

This is all pretty respectable stuff for the price tag, although you can't help but wonder whether Sharp will be able to light a screen as big as 60 inches from the edges without causing pretty major backlight consistency problems.

Heading into the Sharp Aquos LC-60LE636E's on-screen menus, it again gives you more than you might reasonably expect for such a cheap TV.

Sharp Aquos LC 60LE636E review

There's a healthy degree of colour management, for instance, that enables you to adjust the hue, saturation and 'value' of all six of the key colour components. There's also a sliding Gamma adjustment bar, a Film Mode for adjusting the image to suit movie (as opposed to video/TV) sources and a Fine Motion mode for reducing judder when showing motion.

It's good to note, too, that you can adjust the backlight independently to the image's brightness, giving you a level of backlight flexibility that might come in very handy should the Sharp Aquos LC-60LE636E prove to have the sort of backlight consistency flaws discussed earlier.

You might expect the Sharp Aquos LC-60LE636E not to fare too well in the energy consumption department, given its size. But in fact Sharp has managed to bag an A+ rating for its king-sized screen, using the latest EnerG standard.

Trying to find reasons to explain how the Sharp Aquos LC-60LE636E can be so cheap, the only really significant issues are that it isn't 3D ready, and doesn't employ Sharp's 'Quattron' technology, whereby an extra yellow sub-pixel is added to the usual red, green and blue ones that make up an LCD TVs picture.

But there are doubtless plenty of people out there who would be happy to forego both of these features in return for getting such a huge screen for so little money.

Tech Specs

Product TypeLED-LCD TV
Scan Format1080p
Standard Refresh Rate50 Hz
Digital TunerDVB-T (MPEG4)
Video Signal StandardHDTV 1080p
Number of HDMI Ports4
Number of SCART Interfaces1
Product FamilyAQUOS
Brand NameSharp
Screen Size152.4 cm (60")
Aspect Ratio16:9
Memory Card ReaderYes
EthernetYes
Wireless LANYes
Analog TunerNTSC, PAL, SECAM
Ethernet TechnologyEthernet
USBYes
HDMIYes
Weight with Stand (Approximate)32.60 kg
Backlight TechnologyEdge LED
VESA Mount Standard400 x 400
Operating Power Consumption101 W
Standby Power Consumption100 mW
RMS Output Power20 W
Electronic Program GuideYes
DLNA CertifiedYes
HDMI VersionHDMI 1.4
VGAYes
HeadphoneYes
Digital Audio OutputYes
Height with Stand871 mm
Width with Stand1383 mm
Depth with Stand333 mm
CI+Yes
Component VideoYes
SCARTYes
PC StreamingYes
Internet AccessYes
Media PlayerYes
Enhanced Refresh Rate100 Hz
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD)
Height838 mm
Width1383 mm
Depth72 mm
ColourBlack
Sound SystemVirtual Surround, Dolby Surround
Maximum Resolution1920 x 1080
FeaturesTeletext
ManufacturerSharp Electronics
Product ModelLC-60LE636E
Product NameAQUOS LC-60LE636E LED-LCD TV
Product LineAQUOS
Manufacturer Part NumberLC60LE636E
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.sharp.co.uk
Marketing Information

Now everyone can afford a 152 cm (60") TV! The AQUOS LE636 makes it possible for more people to enjoy the pleasure of having a big screen TV at home. Sharp's new ultra-modern Sakai production plant in Japan is designed to produce large LCD panels with minimal material consumption and environmental impact. Efficiency and cutting edge technology enable production of high quality screens at very competitive prices. The LE636 comes with AQUOS NET+ and media player capabilities.

Package Contents
  • AQUOS LC-60LE636E LED-LCD TV
  • Remote Control
  • USB WLAN Dongle
SpeakersYes
Limited Warranty1 Year