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Sharp Aquos LC-46LE821E review

Tim Smalley
15 Jun 2010
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,625
inc VAT

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Specifications

46in, Freeview HD, analogue, 1920x1080 resolution, 3D: no, 4x HDMI

While most TV manufacturers have focused on adding a third dimension to their 2010 TV ranges, Sharp chose to buck the trend and go in a different direction by introducing its Quad Pixel technology. This adds a fourth, yellow, sub-pixel to the traditional red, green and blue ones found in every colour TV released to date.

It’s a curious decision to make given the hype surrounding 3D after its success at the box office and it’s one that could get lost in the rest of the industry’s marketing push. If it does, that’d be a huge shame, because while Quad Pixel technology doesn’t sound particularly significant, it could be the biggest fundamental change to TVs since colour broadcasts were first introduced.

Sharp Aquos LC-46LE821E three quarter

It promises to increase the colour palette available by a factor of 1,000, enabling more accurate colours across the whole range. In particular, it means yellows (or mustards, golds and other derivatives) should look more natural, as they’ll no longer need to be a combination of red, green and blue. What’s more, Sharp’s new technology could also help circumvent one of the biggest problems with today’s 3DTVs too – poor colour saturation – but we’re getting ahead of ourselves there as the Aquos LC-46LE821E doesn’t support 3D.

Sharp Aquos LC-46LE821E remote

Changing the way colour images are produced is not as simple as adding an extra sub-pixel into the fray and it’s actually rather difficult to do, which explains why nobody else has come up with the idea before. In fact, Sharp claims that it took the company four years of R&D work to come up with the answer.

The LC-46LE821E is a great-looking TV – one of the nicest we’ve seen – but the base is a little flimsy and didn’t feel as firm as we’d hope. Its slender figure – it’s just 39mm thick – makes it ideal for wall mounting, though. Along the bottom edge, there’s an angled strip of highly polished metal overlaid with an illuminated Sharp logo in the left corner, the Aquos triangle in the middle and a selection of touch-sensitive controls in right corner, which light up upon interaction.

Speaking of the controls, Sharp has also redesigned its remote control and it’s a big improvement over previous zappers. It’s now slim, stylish and the buttons have a much more intuitive layout unlike its previous remotes.

We were suitably impressed by what’s served up when we checked out the LE821's connections. Alongside a collection of four HDMI sockets, there’s an RS232C control port that allows you to use your TV as part of a home-automation setup, a USB socket for playing video (including HD) and photos back. It’s rounded off with an Ethernet connector for internet connectivity, but Sharp doesn’t offer any web-connected services like its rivals. Instead, the Ethernet port can be used to access media stored on a DLNA-enabled PC or network storage device. In the future, it could be used for potential Freeview HD interactive services.

The 46LE821E uses an edge-lit LED backlight, which delivered good contrast and reasonable blacks, but we saw evidence of ever-so-slightly uneven backlighting. Most of the time, this wasn’t a huge problem, but it did prove a little frustrating in very dark sections of movies. The blacks could be better admittedly, and compared to some of Panasonic’s new-generation NeoPDP TVs, there’s no contest in this department.

They tend to look a little grey and that’s not helped by the LC-46LE821E’s glossy high-contrast glass cover, which was particularly reflective in bright light with darkly-lit scenes in particular. Despite this, there’s still evidence of its reflectiveness in bright movie scenes, even if we discount the black bars along the top and bottom. That reflectiveness disappeared as soon as the lights were dimmed though and the result was good contrast combined with rich, vibrant colours. Shadow detail is also very good for an LCD TV, even despite the greyish blacks.

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