Home Theater Review

 

Sharp LC-60LE925UN 3D LED LCD HDTV Reviewed

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HTR Product Rating

Performance
4 Stars
Value
4 Stars
Overall
4 Stars

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Sharp-LC-60LE925UN_LED_3D_HDTV_review_profile.gifAs I mentioned in the Setup and Features section, the LC-60LE925UN has the necessary controls to fine-tune the color temp and color points So, using the Samsung and the Epson Home Cinema 8700 UB projector as guides, I calibrated the color temp and adjusted all six color points. Through this process, I was able to achieve a more natural-looking, more technically accurate image, with better skintones. Then, out of curiosity, I decided to check out the other picture modes and see how they fared. Lo and behold, I came across the User mode, which actually looks better out of the box. The color points aren't quite as dark, the low color temp looks more neutral across the board, and skintones don't have as much red, which makes this picture mode a better starting point if you don't wish to do an advanced calibration.

Even in the User mode, Quattron's effect is evident. I watched the NFL playoff game between Pittsburgh and Baltimore, and the difference in yellows between the Sharp and Samsung TVs wasn't subtle. The Steelers uniforms and the fans' terrible towels were a pale yellow on the Samsung, but they were a deeper, richer yellow (closer to gold) on the Sharp. Now, I didn't have a Steelers uniform on hand to see which color was technically accurate, but I personally preferred the Sharp's yellow. On the other hand, the green grass looked overly neon and artificial through the Sharp, while it looked more natural through the Samsung. At the end of the day, maybe it's best to just acknowledge that color is a subjective trait in HDTV performance. Sharp's tag line is that "You have to see it to see it"; I say that you should see it and decide for yourself if you like it. And, once again, the picture controls are available for you or (preferably) a professional calibrator to fine-tune any color you find objectionable.

As for its black-level and contrast, the LC-60LE925UN doesn't feature any type of local dimming, which allows the LED zones to dim or shut themselves off to create deeper blacks when needed. This TV essentially has an always-on lighting system, like a traditional CCFL LCD, and consequently it can't produce as deep a black level. To get the best black, you have to turn the backlight all the way down, which limits brightness and overall contrast. The LC-60LE925UN floats the black level to make it seem darker: Put up an all-black test pattern, and the screen noticeably darkens after a few seconds. This might help blacks look darker during all-black transitions, but it doesn't translate to a deeper black with real-world signals. The LC-60LE925UN is capable of excellent light output and thus produces a very engaging image with brighter sports and HDTV content, but it simply can't compete with the best plasmas and local-dimming-equipped LCD models (like the Samsung) when it comes to reproducing blacks in a Blu-ray or DVD movie.

One potential performance issue with edge-lit LED-based LCDs is that the screen can lack brightness uniformity: certain areas can be noticeably brighter than others. This is usually most obvious in darker scenes. The LC-60LE925UN does exhibit a lack of uniformity, but the brightness discrepancies are a bit subtler, and the screen isn't as blatantly patchy as other edge-lit models I've tested. This makes it easier to enjoy darker scenes without being distracted by bright spots that wash out portions of the image.

The LC-60LE925UN serves up a nicely detailed HD image, given its screen size. In the processing department, it did a good job deinterlacing 1080i content in the standard film mode, but its performance with 480i was less reliable. Although it passed the film test on the HQV Benchmark DVD, it did not handle video and other assorted cadences well, nor did it excel with my real-world demo scenes from Gladiator (DreamWorks) and The Bourne Identity (Universal). I saw a fair amount of shimmer and some moiré in these scenes, so you might want to let your source device(s) or a good external scaler handle standard-def signals. I appreciated the lack of digital noise in the image; my seating area was probably closer to this 60-inch screen than it should have been, yet I didn't observe an abundance of noise in backgrounds and light-to-dark transitions. In the area of blur reduction, AquoMotion 240 proved to be highly effective at producing a clear image. In the motion-resolution pattern on the FPD Benchmark Software Blu-ray disc, this TV was very blurry with Motion Enhancement turned off, moderately clear with the 120Hz options engaged, and able to show lines up to HD 1080 with AquoMotion 240 engaged (that's rare for an LCD). Also, AquoMotion 240 does not appear to use frame interpolation (if it does, I could not see it), so you can get the benefits of blur reduction without altering the quality of film sources. If you do like the smoothing effects of frame interpolation, the "Advanced (Low)" film mode did a solid job removing judder from DVD/Blu-ray content without introducing smearing or stuttering artifacts of its own.

Sharp_60LE920_3D_glasses.gifLast but not least, we get to 3D performance. Again, I compared the LC-60LE925UN to the Samsung UN46C8000, using scenes from Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaur (20th Century Fox) and Monster House (Sony), as well as DirecTV 3D content. In the 3D arena, the LC-60LE925UN held the performance advantage, in terms of image crispness, brightness, and color compensation for the 3D glasses (which weren't quite as comfortable as the Samsung glasses but were better than the Toshiba and Panasonic glasses). The Sharp TV also had noticeably less crosstalk (ghosting) than the other 3D LCDs I've tested. By recollection, I'd say the Panasonic plasma still produced less crosstalk, but it's a close call. And the sense of depth in the 3D image was outstanding. Perhaps it's just the benefit of the larger screen size (this is the largest 3D TV I've tested thus far), but I found the 3D effect to be more immersive and engaging on the LC-60LE925UN than on the other 3D panels I've reviewed. I also tried out the 2D-to-3D conversion and found it to be generally ineffective; with both live action and animated DVD/Blu-ray content, I could barely see a 3D effect, even with the depth set to maximum.

Sharp_LC-60LE925UN_LED_3D_HDTV_review_angled_right.gifLow Points
As I said above, the LC-60LE925UN does not produce as deep a black level as the better plasmas and local-dimming LED/LCDs I've tested. Also, while the screen doesn't have blatantly patchy areas of brightness, it does exhibit another uniformity issue: Vertical banding was sometimes evident in slow-moving pans, especially in scenes that feature a lot of mid-grey content. For instance, in chapter 12 of Ladder 49 (Buena Vista), wherein a fireman searches for a girl in a smoke-filled room, vertical bands were obvious throughout. The problem was far less noticeable in bright TV shows than in darker films. Once I noticed it, I found myself looking for the bands; however, my husband never seemed to notice it... even when I asked him to look for a problem in the image.

The LC-60LE925UN's viewing angle is not as good as a plasma, nor is it as good as the in-plane-switching LCDs that have passed through these doors. The TV produces a watchable image at wide angles, but the picture loses more saturation than I'd like.

The Sharp's screen is highly reflective. This type of screen is designed to reject ambient light to help blacks look deeper in a brighter room; in this respect, the Sharp wasn't as effective as recent LCDs I've tested, and I was overly aware of room reflections in the screen. You should be mindful of where you place this TV in relation to windows and other direct lighting sources.

Competition and Comparison

Compare the Sharp LC-60LE925UN with its competition by reading the reviews for the Panasonic TC-P50GT25 3D Plasma, Samsung PN58C8000 3D Plasma and UN46C8000 3D LED LCD, Toshiba 55WX800U, and the Sony KDL-55HX800 3D LED LCD. Learn more about 3D HDTVs by visiting our 3D HDTV section.

Conclusion
The LC-60LE925UN required more attention during setup than recent high-end models I've tested, but the result was an attractive image. Because of its average black level and banding issues, I don't recommend it as a dedicated theater display on which you plan to watch a lot of movies in a dark room. This one is better suited to be an all-purpose TV for sports, HDTV, and casual movie watching... oh, and 3D. It delivered the goods in the 3D department, and the larger screen is definitely the way to go if you want the most effective 3D experience at home. At a $3,500 MSRP, the LC-60LE925UN is a better value than similarly sized 3D LED/LCDs, although you can get a large-screen 3D plasma for less. Overall, Sharp's 3D debut is a compelling entry, but I should point out that the second-gen LE835 3D line will be available in February. The new line adds built-in WiFi, DLNA media streaming, and CinemaNow.
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