Sharp LC-70LE732U

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Review: Sharp LC-70LE732U LED LCD

Today I had the opportunity to calibrate and evaluate the new 70" Sharp Quattron LED LCD at Cleveland Plasma. The 732 has a full LED backlight, unlike the edgelit LED backlights that have become the standard on most new models. A full LED backlight could offer some solid advantages; but possibly due to the 732's price point, local dimming is notably absent. Of key importance is whether Sharp's highly touted Quattron technology brings anything significant to the table; on last year's LE820, I found the Quattron technology generally got in the way of an otherwise excellent TV.

The 732's screen size will give enthusiasts wanting a big screen a very important alternative to the 73" DLP rear projectors. While there are a few very pricey larger screens, the largest sensible size for a plasma or LCD has been limited to 65". The big DLPs have a high bang for the buck ratio, but their overall lack of naturalness and color lifelikeness can leave me a bit cold. The other alternative would be front projection, but it's potentially incredible image only shows itself when the room is totally dark.

The 732, on the other hand, is able to withstand a fairly bright room and still look outstanding. It's screen appears to be more semi matte than glossy. It picks up a fair amount of reflection, though reflections are diffused. The 732's screen stays quite dark in normal moderate lighting.

Like most LED LCDs, the 732 is fairly critical with viewing angle; moving a couple of feet off center causes visibly paler color and washed out blacks. If you mount it up high, be sure to use a tilting mount so you can angle it down toward the viewing position.

The vast majority of measurements and viewing were done in a dark room.

Before calibration:

I put on my familiar 1080P/24 demo material to see how the various picture modes looked before making any calibration adjustments at all. The mode the 732 first powers up in, Standard, is not the best choice for an accurate image. Standard looked dark, with pink flesh tones, poor shadow detail, and highlighted brights.

Movie mode gave more natural tones, but had an unnatural green emphasis. Shadow detail was better. Flesh tones were still a little pink, but the picture looked better balanced.

The big surprise came when I cycled to Auto. I was rewarded with less green emphasis and better overall color balance than Movie. Otherwise, Auto looked similar to Movie. I noticed some "Dirty Screen Effect": whites showed some patchiness during pans. Pans had the infamous Soap Opera smoothness. There was slight blurring during motion, but it looked more like the side effects of strong noise reduction than typical motion artifacts. Detail looked a little soft, but flesh tones were very good. Black uniformity showed some cloudiness, but it was not noticeable with most material; even the dark scenes in The Dark Knight failed to show it up. The 732 showed excellent pop in bright scenes; in dark scenes it was somewhat diminished but still respectable. I was impressed with the 732's very good shadow detail. Colors look great, though they were just a bit too rich. Fine detail looked a little glazed over. There was a slight darkening at the 4 corners.

Auto mode provided an impressive, well balanced picture overall.


In Sharp's advanced user menu, an inconspicuous little selection called "Color Gamut Range" turned out to make a big difference in color accuracy. In fact, not only was it responsible for the improvement in color seen in Auto mode over Movie, but it also eliminated my reservations of the Quattron technology! With the selection in the default selection ("Expanded"), I was bothered by the same uneven color that plagued last year's LE820. Trying to adjust the advanced CMS controls was futile, and while bright colors looked impressive, color shadings were very inaccurate. Turning the selection to "Standard" made things look a bit pale in comparison, but with proper calibration it eliminated the major problems and allowed much better color fidelity.

Another selection called "Quad Pixel Plus" degraded resolution test patterns, but was very hard to detect with program material. "Film Mode" was the selection that introduced the super smooth Soap Opera-like pans. After disengaging it, pans and motion were excellent.

Calibration was done in Movie mode, since with the right selections it looked as good as Auto and provided more advanced adjustments.

Interestingly, Movie mode's before calibration measurements (attachments 1 and 2) showed a lack of green, though my demo material appeared to have a green emphasis. However, as I found on the older Quattrons, measurements don't tend to show the whole picture with these displays.

Attachment 1 shows both Movie and Auto modes before calibration, and attachment 2 shows Movie mode before and after calibration. The after calibration measurements were excellent, with the only thing of note being that, as on other Sharp LCDs, I had to de-tune red slightly from it's optimal measured position to give more natural looking skin tines. The after graphs were taken after this tweak was made.

The modified ANSI contrast, measured with the Chroma5 Enhanced meter and with both readings well within the meter's specified luminance range, was 1964:1.

After calibration:

The DVE Restaurant scene showed good pans and motion with film mode and NR off. There was a tiny bit of graininess, but it was mostly noticeable up close. Flesh tones were very good, though if anything they could be a touch on the pink side. The Dirty Screen Effect was visible in the white tablecloths as they panned across the screen.

The DVE Montage revealed excellent pop and contrast in bright scenes, becoming moderately good in darker scenes. There was excellent shadow detail; dark images were neither too dark nor washed out. There was a very good sense of depth. Colors and skin tones were very good, and there was good detail. The image was a bit grainy at times, though that was barely noticeable. That pesky DSE was visible at times.

Finally, in The Dark Knight, the 732 showed excellent pop, vibrant colors, and lifelike detail. The overall presentation was rich in a good way. Stationary whites looked pure, though panning diminished their purity. Colors were true, and once again the picture had very good depth.
Movie mode after calibration looked like a refined version of Auto before calibration.

I did see slight moiré and artifacts when the 732 was deinterlacing 1080i material. The effect was impacted by 120Hz "Motion Enhancement" selection, but was never entirely eliminated.

The Sharp 732 is a great TV for the most part, and I was thrilled that Sharp included a control that eliminated the unnatural colors seen in previous Quattrons. However, some viewers will be bothered by the one flaw in it's full LED backlight technology: the dirty screen effect. While I noticed it easily enough, I did not feel it was worth obsessing over.

The 732 gives a far better image than even the best 73" DLPs; and thanks to it's hefty light output capability and good screen, it can maintain that great image much better than those sets in bright living rooms. If you are looking for a high performance, very large flat panel at a price that's not out in the stratosphere, feast your eyes on the latest Quattron.

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