About two and a half years ago I had the opportunity to test-drive Sharp’s 46” Aquos Quattron and gave a review here at Canoe Tech blog. Remember the commercial featuring George Takei (Mr. Sulu from Star Trek) in his white lab coat? At that time 46″ was still considered reasonably large and I really wanted to see whether that one little yellow pixel would really make a difference. Fast-forward to today and Sharp Aquos Quattron has taken a leap forward. Not only have screens increased up to 90”, they’ve also become a lot smarter in the 6, 7 & 8-series models.
This mission, which I gladly accepted, was to explore the Sharp Aquos LC-60LE857U, their top of the line 8-Series 60″ 3D LED Smart TV. Now, while much smaller than 90” this TV still seemed like a behemoth next to my little 26″ Toshiba and more like a computer with built-in high tech hi-def TV rather just another boob tube.
This unit is pretty much off the scale with the number of features it has. I’ll touch on some of the major highlights and share what I came across.
The Sharp Aquos LC-60LE857U is encased in a thin slim-bezeled high quality brushed aluminum frame, highlighted by its uniquely designed diamond cut edges and a stunning silver finish that sits upon a silver plated O-shaped stand.
Driven by a dual-core processor, the unit has an LCD edge-lit 16:9 full HD display (1920×1280) and 12,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio featuring their proprietary SuperBright panel, that combined with their contrast engine continually analyzes the signal and maintains or enhances the luminosity of bright objects without affecting the black levels, so colours appear brilliant while the black stays black.
Quad Pixel Plus II
To further enhance the viewing experience; Sharp added its Quattron technology to the Aquos line, bringing in the Quad Pixel (added yellow). The next generation Quad Pixel PLUS II, further builds on this technology. It introduces a sub-pixel signal processing, which in essence allows more precision control of each of the four (red-green-blue-yellow) sub-pixels rather than just turning them on and off. Effectively, it increases the resolution of the screen and enables it to display deeper and richer colours while keeping the colours sharp and accurate and smoothing areas like diagonal lines which can sometimes appear a little jagged. This is certainly something you can truly appreciate when watching the latest animated movies, especially those in 3D.
In some modes, this can be done automatically, but with the plethora of menu settings and adjustments, not only can you adjust the red-green-blue-yellow, but the cyan and magenta settings as well, giving you virtually unlimited control of your colour spectrum.
The TV experience is more than colour, it’s also about movement, motion and speed. On TVs with low refresh rates like 60Hz, viewers may experience blurry images when it comes to watching sports and fast action movies. The LC-60LE857U has 5 panel refresh and motion enhancement settings to satisfy any need. This includes 120Hz, which is 1/120th of a second, 240Hz as well as 240Hz Aquomotion and 960Hz Aquomotion. Now the last setting doesn’t really quadruple the TV’s actual refresh rate to 960Hz. What the Aquomotion does is increase the effective refresh rate of the backlight scanning, creating an effect similar to what a 960Hz refresh rate would offer.
Now while this may enhance your movie experience, many gamers are more purists, preferring no graphic enhancements at all. Just for them, the Gaming mode shuts down video processing in order to eliminate any ghosting – almost making it like a computer monitor, relying on the TV’s quick 4ms response – the time it takes the pixels to turn on and off, to maximize their gaming experience.
After having enjoyed Michael Jackson’s Thriller in 3D, theatre-size at Disneyland many moons ago, initially the thought of 3D on a TV didn’t really thrill me, pardon the pun, particularly if I had to pay a huge premium to get it. However, after having just experienced Superman: Man of Steel in 3D at the movie theatre, I suddenly began to warm up to the idea. In fact, after watching SharkBoy and LavaGirl in 3D (I had very few selections available) as well as a number of 3D YouTube videos and movie trailers, I’ve changed my mind.
The 3D settings are highly configurable, allowing you to adjust the depth and 3D effects to your liking. You can also take 2D video and show it in 3D.
The two pairs of 3D glasses that ship with this unit are unlike those you get at the theatre. Not only are they a higher quality and more comfortable to wear, they are Bluetooth enabled Active 3D glasses powered by a (non-rechargeable) single coin cell that should last 100 hours. They’re also a bit of a challenge to master as the pairing, power and 2D/3D settings are all controlled by a single button which offers a different function depending on when and how long you press it.
As an audiophile, sound is very important to me. The LC-60LE857U has a down firing built-in 35W 2.1 channel audio with a built-in subwoofer. It also has a number of audio enhancements, including Clear Voice that brings out the dialogue. While the system offers crystal clean sound at some lower levels and the sub pounds out some good bass, when cranked up, even to 100%, it’s not loud enough or high enough fidelity for my liking and depending on the positioning of the TV in your room, the sound even gets drowned out. There is a setting that can be used when wall mounting your TV, but even then, I’d suggest an external audio system or one of Sharp’s new sound bars.
The LC-60LE857U is smart, really smart and highly connectable and has features you’d expect to find on a laptop or tablet. It features built-in Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and a flash-enabled web browser and built in apps, like Skype, Facebook, and Netflix available through SmartCentral. Its split screen feature allows you to surf and watch at the same time.
And because you’re connected you can get automatic updates to your TV’s software when necessary.
Speaking of Netflix, the full-featured remote control has a nice big bright red dedicated button for convenient and quick access to the next episode of House of Cards or your favorite TV series. Of course, the downside to that is where it’s placed – right below the down navigation arrow. And with the button being slightly raised it’s easy to keep pushing it by accident. It would also have been nice to have a backlight on the remote as well.
As an alternative, there are apps for iOS and Android that will allow you to control your Smart TV. There is also an app called Sharp BEAM, somewhat similar functionally to Apple’s Airplay that allows you to beam movies, music and photos directly to your TV from devices like the iPhone, iPad and others.
You can also use your iOS or Android device as a second screen for Netflix to browse and instantly select the show you want to watch.
If you like to have your TV mounted on the wall and hate having to look at a big blank screen when it’s off, you can set your TV to wallpaper mode. Now that’s not simply leaving it on with a picture showing, but rather a function that you can configure to display a default image when you turn off your TV. This is a nice feature, like having artwork on your wall. Alternately you can use your own picture and even set desired display time. Nice way to impress houseguests. This feature consumes about 20 watts that is significantly less than the 120w it consumes when not in power saver mode.
While not a huge TV watcher, I truly enjoyed my time with the LC-60LE857U TV. The screen is big, crisp and sharp. Even when not in test mode, I found myself watching more videos, movies – yes, even SharkBoy. I watched more sports not so much for the content but for how it looked so much different from what I was used to. After watching older flicks like Star Trek III and VI on Blu-ray this was like watching new movies all over again and Netflix in 1080p and iTunes (via Apple TV) in HD looks darned good!
It didn’t take long to think how my 26″ is certainly that much closer to the recycling depot. Now I did have one other minor concern. On some TV channels, especially with talk shows, I did notice some lip-syncing issues. I dropped the refresh down to 120Hz, but it still wasn’t 100%. Then again to be fair, it could possibly be that I’m using a basic digital TV cable box with composite connections, so the best I’m getting is 480i, and not true digital audio.
If you’re a geek or a techie there is so much to play with. If you care more about doing your thing and care less about the bits and bytes, the EZ-set up feature can get you up and running in no time and the menus are really easy to navigate. If you mess it up, you can set everything to AUTO, hit reset, or get friendly live remote tech support.
If you are a true blue fanatic and want the best, then this is it. If you are more of a fan or maybe on a tighter budget and just out of reach from the top of the line, the 8-series may be overkill. The 7-series, about $500 less (MSRP) has similar specs, but does not have the SuperBright panel. It only has 480Hz Aquomotion, 10,000,000:1 contrast ratio and does not have the same fine Diamond edge finish.
The Sharp Aquos LC-60LE857U 3D LED Smart TV comes with a 1-year warranty, retails for $2,999.99 and is available in Canada through most of your favourite electronic retailers. As an added bonus, you can also sign up Sharp’s premium service Aquos Advantage, connected directly through your TV, which offers a number of exclusive member benefits like dedicated toll-free service, personalized private homepage and priority services like next business day service and possible loaners at no extra charge.
Incredible viewing experience
SmartCentral Content & Apps
Highly Customizable Audio, Video & Graphics
Average Quality Audio
Non-rechargeable battery in 3D glasses
Remote: Awkward button placement, No Backlight
Overkill for average user
Greg Gazin is the Real Canadian Gadget Guy.