does not employ the local-dimming technology that allows those LED backlights to respond dynamically to the content being displayed onscreen. In other words, the individual LEDs can't shut themselves off to produce deeper blacks when necessary. In essence, the LC-32LE700UN's backlight behaves like that of a traditional CCFL LCD - you can adjust the brightness of the backlight, but the full array is always on. So what's the point of using LED backlights, you may wonder. According to Sharp, the LED backlighting still offers the benefits of longer life expectancy, lower power consumption, and the absence of the toxic chemical mercury that exists in all CCFL LCDs.
The complete LE700 Series consists of four models, with screen sizes of 32, 40, 46, and 52 inches; what I discovered when I dug into my review of the 32-inch model is that it does not share all of the technologies and features you can get in the larger-screen models. It omits Sharp's de-judder mode and does not provide access to the AQUOS Net Web portal. What you do get in the LC-32LE700UN is a 1080p resolution, Sharp's X-Gen LCD panel with 10-bit processing and a 4ms response time, four HDMI inputs and Fine Motion Enhanced 120Hz technology to reduce motion blur. The MSRP is $1,099.
The LC-32LE700UN has a pretty straightforward look, with a glossy black bezel and a speaker panel along the bottom. The unit comes with a matching square stand that does not swivel. The one design element that caught my eye was the Starfleet-esque power light that sits just beneath the Sharp logo (yes, I am a geek), which you can turn off if you wish. The supplied remote is long and narrow, with white buttons residing on a black background. While it looks as if many of the buttons should light up, only four buttons actually illuminate when you press the remote's Light button, and they're not the buttons you'd expect. Power Saving and Menu make sense, but Mute and Freeze, as opposed to Volume and Channel, are odd choices.
In terms of HD-capable inputs, the LC-32LE700UN is fully loaded. You get four HDMI, two component video and one PC input, as well as a single RF input to access the internal ATSC/Clear-QAM tuners. The HDMI inputs accept 1080p/60 and 1080p/24 signals, and one is located on the side panel for easy access. This TV doesn't offer any ports that allow for digital media playback, such as USB port or card reader (the side-panel USB port is for firmware updates only). Likewise, there's no Ethernet port to add the TV to your home network and access the AQUOS Net Web portal for Web widgets, video-on-demand, and Sharp's concierge/support service. (The larger models in the LE700 Series offer both AQUOS Net and a USB port that supports photo and music playback.) On the plus side, the LC-32LE700UN does include an RS-232 port to integrate the TV into an advanced control system.
The LC-32LE700UN has a nice complement of picture controls, beginning with eight picture modes, including a game mode that improves response time with gaming sources and an Auto Mode that automatically adjusts the image based on source content and the room's ambient light (using a front-panel sensor). As always, I went with the Movie picture mode and made basic adjustments using the Video Essentials (DVD International) discs. You can manually adjust the backlight's brightness or enable the OPC mode, which automatically adjusts the backlight based on room lighting. The Advanced picture menu has the important options I like to see, beginning with five preset color-temperature choices and full white-balance controls to adjust the color temperature. The color management system allows you to adjust the hue, saturation, and value of the six main color points. Five-step gamma adjustment and digital noise reduction are also available. Sharp's Fine Motion Enhanced 120Hz technology deals with motion blur, and the menu includes on and off options. The LC-32LE700UN has four aspect ratio options for SD and four options for HD content, including a Dot by Dot mode for viewing 1080i/1080p images with no overscan.
At first glance, the audio set-up options appear very limited, as the Audio menu offers only bass, treble and balance controls, plus generic surround and bass enhancer options. Move over to the Options menu, though, and you'll find a few more choices: Clear Voice to improve dialogue intelligibility, Auto Volume to even out volume disparities and an audio-only mode for use when enjoying an audio source like a digital music channel.
Finally, the LC-32LE700UN has EnergyStar 3.0 certification and includes several energy-saving options. The Power Control menu includes the Power Saving feature, with two options. Standard optimizes power reduction based on video content, while Advanced does so based on video content and the room's lighting conditions. The Power Control menu also has the option to engage automatic shut-off with no signal or no operation.
In general, I was impressed with the LC-32LE700UN's handling of all different source types, from video games to HDTV to DVD to Blu-ray. I compared the Sharp with the Toshiba 46SV670U LED-based LCD and with my reference Epson Pro Cinema 7500UB projector; beyond a few minor issues that I'll address below, it proved itself to be a worthy performer.
Read more about the performance of the LC-32LE700UN on Page 2.