Sharp LC-80LE844U Review

80" AQUOS LCD/LED 240Hz Quattron HDTV

by , Senior Editor

Strengths

  • Bright Picture Capability with strong Peak Whites
  • With HD content colors Pop
  • Strong menu Picture Mode options and calibration options
  • 111% larger viewing area than a 55” screen
  • Premium Apps selection is good and Vudu Apps fills in some gaps
  • 240 AquoMotion does smooth some Sports programming
  • 3D viewing quality strong except for glasses

Weaknesses

  • Black Levels not as strong as some plasma TVs
  • Picture lacks the depth of top plasma screens
  • Off-center viewing angles both from above and sides
  • Remote keys too small and not backlit (but you will have a good universal remote with this TV)
  • Sound/Audio Function could be better (but you will have a home theater with this TV anyway)
  • Film Mode with DVD,Blu-Ray
  • Some screen uniformity issues with LED backlights but controllable through keeping the backlight in check

Picture Quality Rating: 8.7/10


A colorful shot from HD Blu-Ray SI Swimsuit showing good flesh tones and vibrant color on the LE844U

Flatter Appearance does not a better picture make

That's my Yoda-esque way of saying the TV lacks picture depth perception. LED-LCD screens often do have this problem, though it can be more pronounced on some than others. That's the case with the Sharp LC-80LE844U. I would say this is one of the flattest screens we've seen in a couple of years. A good plasma TV for instance will look substantially better in this area when comparing side to side.

Peak Whites - Very Sharp

These large Sharp LED-LCDs have very bright whites so they eye-catching in the store. Plasma TVs by contrast look dim as the peak white do not compete. But take the TVs home and put them in a dark room with a colorful movie and you will see a much stronger picture performance on the good plasma screens or the better LED-LCDs that have overcome many of the negative picture symptoms of LCDs. But then if you need that super brightness and high whites for a brightly lit room, especially on football Saturdays and Sundays, then the Sharp LC80LE844U will look very good. In fact, this or a better version of this is the type of TV you are looking for. The lack of picture depth could be overcome in that situation with the Film Mode's smooth motion 240Hz de-judder action.

Film Mode - De-judder Mode

After watching a bit of the Blu-Ray of The Fifth Element we immediately noticed the depletion of natural background blur. We've seen this before in other brands and it's always distracting when done to excess. In the Sharp, it's done to excess in 2012. It's actually a de-judder mode in that it removes that jerky motion you see when watching movies during motion scenes – thus Sharp's naming it the Film Mode. The tradeoff is not a good one in our opinion. Turn it off for all film based content. Otherwise, you get a “soap opera” effect during films as background blur is eliminated. When you turn it off, you will likely notice some judder effects for a slight time until you get used to it. Ironically, you may want to leave the feature on for live action sports or other live fast motion programs. It will delivery a smoothing quality.


A shot of the Blu-Ray of Days of Thunder on the LE844U

Motion Enhancement Fast Action Feature Settings (Optimizes Video Motion)

  • 240Hz AquoMotion – We prefer this setting for fast action.
  • 240Hz – There is something unnatural about the way motion looks in this setting.
  • 120Hz High
  • 120Hz Low
  • Off

from our testing we did not denote much difference between the bottom 3 options listed above. We saw a slight smoothing quality improvement from the 240Hz AquoMotion and a somewhat violent change in the 240Hz settting, but the 120Hz options did not do much.

Preset Picture Mode Evaluation

Auto – Automatically converts the picture into advanced Film Mode and does not allow adjustment of many of the individual settings within picture settings such as Black Level, Film, Active Contrast. Since you cannot adjust the Film Mode setting from this mode we recommend staying away from it. It sets the various setting depending upon what content is playing.
Standard – Sharp Standard setting is pretty good though colors are oversaturated and the setting comes with the Film Mode set to Advanced. So you will want to immediately turn that off when watching movies, film or the like. It's fine for live sports if you want the color to be juiced a bit.
Movie – We used the Movie Picture mode setting to calibrate the TV since it allows for 10 point white balance adjustment and the User Picture Mode does only allows 2 point WB adjustment. We found it to have a green push especially from side viewing angles even after calibration.
Game – Obviously this hyped mode should be used only for Gaming. It has a red push.
PC – For PC use
User – As mentioned above we did not calibrate from this mode due to it only allowing 2 pt. White balance adjustment. There is lots of light flow-through to the picture. Setting the Color Temp under the User Mode setting to Mid-Low produces a nice picture with lots of light. I like this mode a lot. Also take the Sharpness down to -10 and make sure the Film Mode is turned Off. I like this mode because it adds depth to the picture through use of the LED lighting.
Dynamic – Just stay away from this which creates false edges and over-saturated colors and extreme unrealistic brightness.
Dynamic Fixed – Same with this setting which does the same and does not allow adjustment. Think “Store Mode” setting. You cannot turn off the Film Mode which creates the Soap Opera effect.

3D Viewing Active Viewing – Very Solid

First off, the active 3D glasses we purchased were the Sharp AN-3DG20-B. They are expensive (around $50 per pair – not 2 pair!). They are also uncomfortable, heavy and slip off the nose easily. As a last note, users must use the Sharp active 3D glasses or glasses made specifically for the Sharp active 3D viewing. Sharp has no compact yet with interchangeable glasses with Panasonic, Samsung and Sony. Therefore, Sharp TVs will not sync with the universal glasses or those from other manufacturers.

So how about the viewing/ If there is any room light in front of the glasses from a window or lamp or a computer you will immediately notice flickering from the glasses.

Once we eliminated any light front facing light that could distract us, we enjoyed the active 3D picture from both Cloudy and SI Swimsuit. We did not note much crosstalk or any blurring in the corners. Colors are also greatly enriched and enhaced from our calibrated picture settings.

Once accessing 3D there is an option to give the TV a 3D Brightness boost should you want that option. Since 3D is best watched in a darker room, this should not be necessary.

2D to 3D Conversion

This feature is included on the LE844U however lives up to expectations for poor performance. The 3 dimensional effects are very slight, the picture much darker, and considerable judder and jerky motion elements. It's not a feature you will use much.

Color Rendition

Color rendition looks good, but just a touch on the unnatural side and with a green push from our fully calibrated Movie setting after 10 point white balance adjustment (see Picture settings on next page). Again, plasma TVs are much better in this area. The LE844U is a Quattron model which means it contains that extra yellow pixel and Sharp's best picture quality.

Side Angle Viewing – Needs Improvement

Off center viewing quality is severely compromised in the large Sharp LED TVs. Since the TVs are large there is some leaveway with this issue since there is more physical movement needed to get off center of the TV. From 15 to 20 degrees and on the saturation of colors starts fading and it gets worse the more off center one gets. Of course, on an 80 inch TV it's much more difficult to get off center. But still, this is an issue worth considering especially if the room it's going in has wide viewing possibilities.

Features Rating: 8.2/10

Remote and Menu

The long slender remote control has some very tiny buttons such as the Input button located just to the rigtht of the small channels control. It takes a little getting used to finding the small buttons. Even the 5-way controller arrow keys are small which makes browsing and toggling between choices a little slower than normal. The menu broad categories runs across the top of the screen and then down the right hand side for breakdown choices leaving a large area for the content you are watching. The system is not stylish but works well.

To get to the important Film Mode setting: Click menu, picture settings, scroll down to the Advanced Settings option at the bottom, scroll down again to the bottom to click on Film Mode. The TV comes with the setting on. For any kind of film based material you will want to turn it off. Turn it off for DVD or Blu-Ray content.

Smart Central TV (Sharp's Smart Internet TV)


Sharp's Smart Central menu is scant on choices, but good enough

The small Smart Central button on the remote gets you directly to the Internet TV settings. The menu that pops up initially inclueds Vudu HD Movies, You Tube, Hulu Plus, Cinema now, Aquos Advantage Live (support), Vudu Apps,. Netflix, and then scrolling right one time provides access to a web browser, FilmFresh, Skype, USB Media Input, and Home Network. That last one is the favorites section which will change per your choice.

Vudu Apps - Provides links to TV shows such as TrueBlood, CNBC, Nova, Discovery, flickr, CBS Nightly News, Facebook.


A news program shows some vibrant bright color on the LE844U

So the Vudu Apps that are available for free are the other Apps available through Sharps Smart Central TV, they have not bothered to created their own and I'm not sure that I blame them or that is wasnt a smart move to enlist the Vudu Apps and let them do the work.

Appearance and Full Array LED Backlighting

The LC-80LE844U looks different than all other Sharp 2012 offerings with a larger black bezel. It's not too much larger, but it shows due to the super thin framing bezels we are seeing these days. The reason for the 1 inch wide frame and more than 2 inch deep panel is the full array LED backlighting which gives the panel much more control over individual areas of the screen than edge lit LED backlighting. It's a large upgrade feature but helps tremendously with accuracy of color processing on a screen this large. While there are full array LED lighting they are not of the higher end local dimming variety.

Dimensions 73-5/16” X 45-3/32” X 17-3/32” with stand.

Sharp Smart Central Web Browser – Not worth having

Sharp makes certain to have a large ad for the products listed there. After painfully typing in your search term through the diminutive browser keyboard, click “Done” and then the word you've labored to type in appears in the search bar top right. But your still not done, you must then scroll right to the magnifying glass and again press enter to conduct your search. Then an annoying pop up screen appears “Foresee” asking you to give customer feedback (I'm giving mine here). A few clicks get rid of it. But wait, you're still not done, now you are on a Sharp search page where that your search term has been transferred. You must again click the search button. It took 5 clicks total to get there. Disappointingly, we got 0 results for the term “lcdtvbuyingguide.” Ups. But wait, this is Sharp's proprietary search engine – let's try “Google.” 18 results came up, all PDFs related to Sharp. All with Sharp titles. I'm starting to feel deceived. The first PDF would not open as the MIME type not supported. But wait, isnt this Sharp's search engine. They cant even open their own results? OK, you've guessed it by now – the built in web browser is utterly useless and worthless.

Here's what gets me though, when going to the Smart Central options and accessing the web browser there is a screen that pops up that states, “Enjoy the freedom to access the whole Internet on your TV with the embedded web browser. Visit your favorite web sites while watching TV. No need to use a PC with a small monitor.” That's the exact quote. Seems disingenuous. It's similar to Sony's proprietary “search”. It gives us joy to have something so obviously flawed to pick on.


You can actually read the verbage of the promise, but it's not so, it's not free

The results from a search for “Google”

Sharp's Aquos Advantage Live is an attempt by Sharp to give some customer service to anyone purchasing a Sharp TV with this feature. Advisors can help with your picture settings, Internet connections, or other issues. It appears that with most of Sharp's higher end TVs the enrollment is free, but it is mandatory that you enroll in the service – there is no question about that. Sharp also says there is membership to the exclusive membership web site and an additional 3 month warranty extension on your product.

Sound Quality – No, Not at All!

Meaning, no it's not quality. Sound is tinny and struggles to separate the voice even though it does have a Clear Voice feature it hardly seems to help. Therefore you struggle to hear the dialog. It's muddy and unclear and the TV generally has insufficient volume especially for this size TV. Even at 80% capacity we struggled to make out words.

Value Rating: 8.8/10

Well, there is hardly anything to currently compete with this 80 inch TV in size. At $5500 or so it's not an inexpensive option and does not seem to offer the fantastic value proposition that some of the other Sharp sizes like 70” and 60' have. There is a Samsung UN75ES9000 75-inch model due to hit the market soon. It will sell for just less than $10,000 if initial reports are true so I guess that makes this Sharp a discount model.

OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10



Robert Wiley Having reviewed and written about Television Technology for over 10 years, Wiley never tires of researching the newest qualitative trends related to the technology. Most people do not get excited about possibilities behind the latest video engine...Wiley does. Read more about Robert

 



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