The LE925 Series is Sharp's first 3D-capable TV line, and it includes screen sizes of 52 and 60 inches. Like most of the current 3D-capable flat panels, the LC-60LE925UN requires active-shutter glasses and uses frame-sequential stereoscopic 3D technology, in which the TV alternately flashes a full-resolution left-eye and right-eye image. (Later this year, we'll see 3D-capable flat panels that use passive glasses, but these displays can only show half the vertical resolution with 3D content.) The shutters in the glasses open and close in sync with the signal to direct the appropriate image to each eye. Sharp kindly includes two pairs of active-shutter glasses as part of the package price (a $300 value; additional pairs of the KOPTLA002WJQZ glasses cost $150 each), and the IR emitter that syncs the 3D glasses with the TV is built into the front panel. The LC-60LE925UN supports 2D-to-3D conversion. Also, in a feature unique to Sharp thus far, the glasses will convert 3D back to 2D; so, if other people in the house are watching 3D content and you'd rather not, you can switch back to 2D (but you have to keep the glasses on, obviously).
The LC-60LE925UN employs Sharp's Quattron technology, which adds yellow to the standard red/green/blue color filter. The TV uses Sharp's 10-bit X-Gen LCD panel and an edge LED lighting system. Sharp's AquoMotion 240 technology is available to reduce motion blur, while various de-judder options can produce smoother movement with film sources. The AQUOS Net Web platform features Netflix and VUDU video-on-demand, as well as Web widgets and the AQUOS Advantage Live program that provides instant access to live customer support. You can connect to a home network via wired Ethernet or the supplied wireless LAN adapter, and the TV also supports IP control. The LC-60LE925UN has EnergyStar 4.0 certification and an MSRP of $3,499.99.
Setup and Features
Sharp has made good strides in the aesthetic department. The panel has a single-pane design with no raised bezel; it features a glossy black finish with a clear trim along the bottom and a pair of down-firing speakers. The square, swiveling base is gloss-black in the center and fades to clear at the outer edges. The use of edge LED lighting allows this 60-inch TV to have a relatively slim profile of 1.6 inches, but it's still quite heavy, weighing 99.2 pounds on its own and 122.4 pounds with the stand attached. The screen is reflective, as opposed to the traditional matte screen found on many LCDs. The TV's front face includes a touch-sensitive control panel, with icons that indicate each button's position and function. Sharp augments these icons with text positioned above each button, which I think detracts from the otherwise stylish look. The supplied remote lacks backlighting and dedicated input buttons, and it doesn't include a full keyboard for easier text input with Web content. I'd use the word "utilitarian" to describe the LC-60LE925UN's remote and onscreen interface. While there's nothing especially wrong with Sharp's implementations, there's nothing especially exciting about them, either. Other manufacturers are taking design risks and trying to create a more intuitive user experience, and Sharp feels a step behind in this respect.
The thorough connection panel includes four HDMI inputs (all side-facing), as well as one component video input, one PC input, and one RF input to access the internal ATSC/Clear-QAM tuners. Other connections include an Ethernet port for network connectivity, dual USB ports for media playback (including Divx) and the wireless LAN adapter, and RS-232 for integration into an advanced control system.
The LC-60LE925UN's setup menu includes most of the advanced picture controls we like to see. In addition to nine picture modes, you'll find an adjustable backlight and an automatic brightness sensor called OPC; five color-temp presets, plus RGB gain (lo and high) controls to fine-tune the white balance (this TV lacks the 10-point white balance controls you'll find in some higher-end models); a color management system to adjust the hue, saturation, and value (brightness) of all six color points; gamma adjustment; and digital noise reduction. You can choose to enable or disable Quad Pixel Plus technology, which is designed to produce smoother diagonal lines. The QPP function did reduce jaggies in test patterns and didn't seem to have any adverse effect on performance, so I see no reason why you wouldn't use it. The LC-60LE925UN has four aspect-ratio options for SD content and five options for HD, including a Dot by Dot mode for viewing 1080i/1080p images with no overscan.
The LC-60LE925UN doesn't have a true 240Hz refresh rate: It has a 120Hz refresh rate, and you can select between four Motion Enhancement options that affect the actual output. In the off mode, the TV duplicates frames to produce 120Hz. The "120Hz High" and "120Hz Low" modes add varying degrees of frame interpolation to create new frames to get to 120Hz. Finally, AquoMotion 240 flashes the LEDs to create a 240Hz effect that's designed to more effectively reduce motion blur (we'll discuss performance in the next section). While the above options apply to all types of content (both video and film), the Film Mode menu includes some adjustments that are specific to film. You can choose a standard film mode in which the TV performs basic 3:2 pulldown detection, or you can select an "Advanced (High)" or "Advanced (Low)" mode that will use frame interpolation to reduce judder in film-based sources.
When the LC-60LE925UN detects a 3D signal, it automatically switches to a special 3D video mode, in which you can choose between three preset picture modes: Standard 3D, Movie 3D, and Game 3D. These modes account for the fact that the 3D glasses will alter the image's brightness and color. However, you still have access to most of the picture controls I described above, with the exception of the Motion Enhancement and Film Mode menus, in order to adjust the image as you see fit. The 3D menu adds a 3D Brightness Boost function, with low, middle, and high options. There's also a special 3D setup menu under Systems Options that includes the ability to enable or disable 3D auto start (to auto-detect 3D content), engage 2D-to-3D conversion (with a 16-step depth adjustment), and display the amount of time you've been watching 3D content. You can also run a 3D test to check/confirm operation. The setup menu lacks controls to switch the left-eye/right-eye signals or adjust the 3D effect to compensate for viewing angle.
On the audio side, the setup menu offers treble, bass, and balance controls, as well generic auto volume, bass enhancer, and clear voice functions. There's also a 3D Surround menu with four preset pseudo-surround options, including 3D Hall, 3D Movie, 3D Standard, and normal. Dialogue sounded hollow and awkward through all of these modes, except the normal mode. The down-firing speakers have decent dynamic ability, and vocals aren't excessively tinny, but I still recommend you use an external sound system.
As I mentioned, you can add the LC-60LE925UN to your home network via a wired or wireless connection. My sample didn't come with the wireless LAN adapter, so I used the Ethernet port. Once connected, I launched AQUOS Net via the remote's Apps button. A simple toolbar runs along the bottom of the screen; it covers the image slightly, but it's also opaque so that you can still see what's behind it. The Apps options are VUDU, Netflix, AQUOS Net, USB Media, and Advantage. While it may look on paper like the Sharp platform doesn't have as many options as some of its competitors, the VUDU service includes VUDU Apps, with options for Facebook, Pandora, Picasa, Flickr, Twitter, and more. The big omissions in the Sharp platform are YouTube, Amazon VOD, and DLNA media streaming. As with most current Netflix apps, this one does not currently include the ability to browse content and order it directly from the app. You must add titles to your online queue.
The benefit of Quattron four-color technology is debatable. Some argue that the current production standard for film and TV content is based on RGB, so the addition of yellow doesn't provide any real benefit and could do more harm than good. Sharp claims that the addition of yellow will help improve the "range of yellows" that the TV can produce and is especially effective in the reproduction of richer yellow and gold. Both arguments proved somewhat true in my review sample. I certainly spent more time thinking about color with this TV than I normally do. As with most non-THX-certified TVs, I began my evaluation using the LC-60LE925UN's movie mode. Even during setup, I could see in the color-bar patterns on Digital Video Essentials (DVD International) that most of the colors looked off. Because of Quattron, I expected different hue and saturation in yellow and green, but I wasn't expecting such a dramatic difference in most every color. Red, green, cyan, and magenta were all much darker than normal in test patterns. When I switched to real-world HDTV content, I compared the Sharp with the Samsung UN46C8000, which has mostly accurate color. On the Sharp, blue and cyan consistently looked dark and/or muted. Magenta lipstick on women sometimes appeared overly pronounced. Most problematic were the LC-60LE925UN's skintones, which had too much red in them. With bright content, the movie mode's low color-temp preset looked fairly neutral; however, as the image grew darker, the color temp grew cooler and skintones grew redder. On a positive note, blacks didn't have the overly blue tinge I saw on the Samsung.
Read more about the LC-60LE925UN's performance on Page 2.
As 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.
Last 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.
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.
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