Sharp unveiled their 2010 line-up on CES 2010 and one of the new things was the Quattron / Quad Pixel technology. Sharp has added yellow to the pixel structure which should mean better color reproduction according to Sharp. The LE820 is a step down from the flagship model LE920 but still has a lot of interesting features such as Edge LED backlight, a slim frame, DLNA and Time Shift recording.
I'm eager to find out more about Sharp LE820 which looks like one of the very interesting LCD models this year. But can LE820 convince us? Sharp now has a very sleek and slim design but what about picture quality? And is the new Quattron technology worth anything? FlatpanelsHD finds out in this review of Sharp 46LE820.
Sharp LE820 will be available in 40, 46, 52, and 60 inches called 40LE820, 46LE820, 52LE820, and 60LE820. In the UK it’s called the LE821 series: 40LE821, 46LE821, 52LE821, and 60LE821
Subscribe to our Newsletter to receive e-mails when new reviews are online. We’ll soon publish our Panasonic V20 and VT20, Samsung C6000 and LG LE8500 reviews as well.
Sharp has not exactly been regarded as a design icon in the past few years but with the 2010 range Sharp has changed a lot of things. One of the major changes is the design philosophy and whether or not you like the new look you can't argue that Sharp has put some effort into creating something quite different from their usual attempts.
The new design is sleek with a glass front that covers both bezel and panel. The TV has soft edges but still a defined look. It reminds me of Apple. I'm not saying that it's a rip-off but LE820 surely reminds me of a huge iPhone / iPod.
It's a shame that Sharp has not removed all of those logos and text on the front glass, though. Also, the Sharp logo on the left side is lit by default (it can be turned off).
The frame is very slim. It's not as slim as the 3 cm Samsung"LED-TVs" (LCD-TVs with LED) but almost. This is the first Sharp TV that is this thin and we like it. The choice of materials in general on LE820 feels good.
I should probably also mention that Sharp has gotten it right the first time. Sharp hasn't leaped over where the hedge is lowest and all connectors are pointing to the side or the bottom instead of towards the back wall. Very nice, Sharp.
The stand has a manual swivel function.
On the left side of the TV you find a lot of different inputs. For example HDMI and USB. And on the right side of the frame there are some touch sensitive buttons.
Our TV signal is DVB-S (satellite) from Canal Digital and DVB-T (terrestrial). We also have an analogue TV connection. Testing is done with the DVE (digital video essentials) and Peter Finzel test DVD. Testing is also done with DVD, TV, Blu-Ray and Media center/PC.
We use our own monitorTest. The software supports some of the traditional test patterns used to evaluate displays as well as some new and unique test patterns developed by the people here on FlatpanelsHD. Sony PlayStation 3 is our Blu-Ray player.
All contrast measurements are based on the ANSI methodology.
Sharp has updated the remote as well. The remote control on the 2009 model LE705 was probably one of the most unsatisfying ones out there but the new remote is a major improvement. It's a bit more elegant and suits the TV well.
It doesn't feel as exclusive as the TV, though, and I also would have liked it to be heavier. It feels a bit cheap.
Time Shift recording LE820 has a Time Shift Recording function like the LE920 series. Basically this means that you can pause, rewind and forward live TV transmission.
So let's say that you're watching a movie on a live channel and has to go to the bathroom you can hit the pause button on the remote and the TV starts recording to a built-in memory (8GB flash). When you get back you just press start and the show continues from the point where you paused it (and you're now watching the show for example 2 minutes later than the actual live feed).
In practice this works great. Just press the remote and the Time Shift recording starts. You can also rewind and forward.
When you press the remote you can see a small indicator in the bottom left corner telling you how much internal memory for recording is left.
It’s a Time Shift recording function and not an actual recorder. When you turn of the TV all Time Shift recording are deleted and the 8GB flash memory is empty.
DLNA The DLNA is accessed through the source menu. Go there and select Home Network. From here you can select Photo mode or Music mode but video is not supported via DLNA, which is a shame.
I tried with Windows Media Player. PS3 Media Player and TVersity but LE820 didn't detect anything so I tried with Twonky. Twonky is supported but most of you guys are probably aware that Twonky costs money - at least in the long run.
The photo feature is adequate and the DLNA function is good for these things but we miss video support. On the other hand no other manufacturer has really nailed the DLNA video part and most of the manufacturers only support a selection of codecs.
Navigation is fine but loading time should have been reduced. Also, you need to connect LE820 with a cable. No Wi-Fi has been built in. Sharp also talked about the AQUOS Net internet function but it seems that this technology has been reserved for LE920. It’s not available on LE820.
However, if you plug in a USB stick you will be able to playback DivX and DivX HD. LE820 has no MKV support.
In the menus I found these calibration setting options: OPC, backlight, contrast, brightness, color, tint, and sharpness. In the advanced menu you'll find CMS hue, CMS saturation, CMS value, color temp, fine motion advanced, gamma adjustment, film mode, active contrast, DNR, monochrome and range of OPC.
You can also select from these picture modes: Auto, Dynamic, Dynamic (Fixed) Standard, Movie, Game, PC and User.
Energy consumption on Sharp LE820 has been measured below.
After my calibration energy consumption on the 46-inch LE820 was measured to 72 W. This is low but not as low as on the Sharp LE705 that is our reference in regards of energy consumption. LE705 utilizes a backlit LED panel. LE820 consumes the same amount of energy as most other Edge LED TV models.
Also, please note that the flat panel TV uses less power after calibration. This is common on flat panel displays because many picture parameters are reduced during calibration.
Calibration on Sharp LE820
Below you see reading of the out-of-box picture accuracy on LE820. The Eco mode (OPC) was deactivated.
The graph says this:
The number on the left is the delta value. Delta is a difference between two factors; here it’s the difference between the measured color on the panel and the actual color that is our target.
A delta value lower that 2 results in a visible deviation from the actual color.
A delta value over 4 or 5 results in wrong colors.
A delta value between 1 and 2 results in precise but not perfect colors.
A delta value lower than one results in almost perfect colors. The target is 0.
Everything between 0 and 1 is barely visible to the human eye.
Sharp LE820 has a very oversaturated out-of-box picture. This is typical for shop modes but not suitable for home viewing.
In the Standard mode gamma is too low going from 1.5 in the lightest shades to 2.1 on the darkest shades. This means that colors are much brighter than they should have been.
The color temperature is also too high giving us a too bluish and"cold" picture. Brightness is high as well but keep in mind that I have deactivated the automatic eco mode that adjusts brightness according to surrounding.
I wanted to improve picture accuracy on LE820 before I moved on to talk about picture quality in practice.
I tried to switch to the Movie mode and did a calibration. Here's the result I ended up with.
The result is not fantastic. I did not take advantage of the full potential of the CMS system in LE820 but did perform a RGB calibration. I did manage to get gamma close to 2.2 and corrected the color temperature to our reference of 6500 Kelvin (almost). I also reduced brightness a lot.
Still, we see some color deviations and the reason is probably the Quattron technology. I examined the gamut in detail and saw that LE820 pushes yellow and green a bit too much giving more the bright yellow and green shades a more vivid expression than conventional TVs.
As you can see in the gamut in the left side of the graph above the actual gamut that a human eye can perceive (the whole color gamut) and the one that the monitor/TV actually reproduces is far from the same. Today we use some pre-defined standards that tell us how colors should be reproduced. The gamut should be expanded a long time ago because both players and displays are capable of displaying more but it's tricky because almost all equipment and all content is reproduced in the standardized gamut.
So what about LE820? Color accuracy is actually quite good for most of the gamut but in the yellow and green outer point LE820 pushes the gamut beyond its limits. This means that green and yellow appear more intense/vivid than they should but also means that the color accuracy is not perfect - and the picture is not 100 % natural. This applies mostly to the very saturated colors such as intense yellow, intense blue and intense green.
I wasn't able to completely correct this as I couldn't change the gamut but the big question is; is it critical? I would say no (and yes), for most users it isn't. Other LCD-TVs have deviations in colors, too, so it's no big issue. LE820 is not too different in this regard compared to most LCD-TVs today. The Panasonic V10 plasma from 2009 also had some problems with the color gamut for example.
But if you value very accurate colors you should probably look for one of the THX-enabled plasma-TVs.
I'll get back to picture quality in practice in a sec.
First my picture settings after calibration.
Fine Motion advanced
-1 to -2
R Gain (LO)
G Gain (LO)
B Gain (LO)
R Gain (HI)
G Gain (HI)
B Gain (HI)
I tried to do a RGB calibration. I also experienced that gamma is a bit off so in order to get gamma closer to 2.2 I had to lower gamma by 1 or 2. Gamma -2 gave me a bit too high gamma and -1 gave me a bit too low so you can try to play a bit with that yourself.
I also reduced the backlight. During daytime you might want to use a higher backlight value.
Picture quality on Sharp LE820
The glass front has a lot of reflections. A front glass seems to be a rising trend amongst LCD manufacturers and even though the glass front and coating on LE820 is different to the one on Sony NX700 both has a lot of reflections and act as a dark mirror in bright daylight.
Color reproduction on LE820 is not perfect. I touched on this subject in the previous section so I don’t want to elaborate too much. Below you can see that the Quattron panel actually is built from four sub pixels instead of three and the new one is the yellow one (from the Quattron panel).
The Quattron technology contributes to very vivid and saturated colors in general. I feel that the picture on Sharp LE820 is good and pleasant and the panel and glass front actually gives LE820 a sort of plasma picture-feeling.
So does the Quattron technology improve picture quality? It depends on what you want. It does help Sharp and LE820 to reproduce more vivid and nuanced colors and this is important because it’s still a general LCD issue but not more accurate colors.
SD reproduction on LE820 is fair but not great. The de-interlacing could have been better and the SD picture is not as detailed as on the best TVs today. The picture is good, don’t get me wrong and the deep blacks and vivid colors creates a very intense picture but detailing could have been a bit better with SD.
HD on the other hand is beautiful. Detailing on HD is great and the picture is impressive. LE820 also handles moving HD images quite well because of the low response time. The deep black provides a picture with depth and intensity.
Sharp LE820 has fast response time that provides good motion reproduction. I saw some minor bluish overdrive trailing but nothing critical. The fast response time also ensures good motion resolution on LE820 and I’m pretty convinced with moving images on LE820. However, it’s not as low as on plasma TVs.
The 100 Hz frame interpolating system on LE820 is good, too. It introduces some artifacts - all 100 Hz systems do - but it was rarely visible. Sharp is not over exaggerating either and the effect is subtle but effective, a lot like on the Sony LCD-TVs. This also means that the picture actually benefits from the 100 Hz feature instead of getting this pseudo-look that resembles video-footage.
Gaming on LE820 is possible but the 100 Hz system introduces some input lag. The worst enemy is the film mode; however, that makes console gaming quite hard because of some massive input lag. If you turn this one of input lag is reduced drastically, though, and very suited for gaming. The low response time also ensures a good gaming experience.
Below I have measured black levels and contrast.
Contrast ratio +/- 100
I measured a black level of 0.04 cd/m2. This is very good for an Edge LED model and a tad better than on the Samsung B7000 with Edge LED. During daytime black is reduced a bit, though, because of the reflective front glass but I also feel that LE820 actually manages to keep a fairly deep black level even during daytime.
Shadow detailing is very good and the deviations in yellow and green has no effect on the darkest shades whatsoever. I could distinguish most shades of dark grey after my calibration with ensures a detailed picture in dark movie scenes and games. However, with the standard settings shadow detail was washed out. You need to calibrate LE820. You can choose to follow my calibrated settings or lower gamma 1 or 2 in the advanced menu.
Finally I examined LE820 for clouding / backlight bleeding issues. Below you see a picture of the TV in a completely dark room.
Sharp LE820 has no clouding issues which is positive because some of the Edge LED models out there have. I was concerned that LE820 would actually be a step back compared to the LE705 with backlit LED that had almost perfect light homogeneity but LE820 really handles the light distribution well even though it has an Edge LED backlight.
PC and Media Center
If you want 1:1 pixel mapping you need to output a 1920x1080 resolution from your Media center and select"Dot by Dot" aspect ratio on LE820.
Viewing angles have been improved compared to previous Sharp TVs. We also saw an improvement from the LE700 to LE705 and LE820 is on par or a bit better compared to LE705.
This is good because Sharp's variant of the VA panel technology that they have been using in their TVs for generation also has been the panel technology with the most narrow viewing angles (besides the cheaper and smaller TN panels).
Color intensity is still reduced from angles and some colors get a minor tint from angles. Below you can see a picture of the viewing angles.
I also saw a decrease in contrast but the result is acceptable.
LE820 has a lot of reflections in the front glass, however. Light is reflected as well as objects. During daytime you can mirror yourself in the panel.
The coating is different from the Sony NX700, however. NX700 has a double coating that duplicates objects in two different colors. LE820 has a"clean" coating that functions as a mirror.
The reflections are worse than on most plasma TVs and this might turn out to be a problem if you have large windows in your home.
I was actually positively surprised with the sound quality on Sharp LE820. When you're used to the very poor speakers in most of the new very slim TVs out there, you know that the loudspeakers are unusable even for just watching TV. This is not the case with LE820. The speakers are by no means fantastic but the sound quality is fair.
Voices are clear and the midtones have some punch. Bass tones are not very deep, though. ButLE820 gets to a point - about 50 % volume - and from this point and on sound starts to shrill. So keep the volume slider below the middle and all will be fine.
For music and movies you should connect a decent music system but for TV watching the sound quality of the speakers in LE820 is acceptable.
With LE820 Sharp has really put some thought into designing a TV and has ended up with a very complete TV. The glass frame feels nice, and the back of the frame reveals that all inputs are cleverly positioned. Also, the remote has gotten a facelift and is much nicer than the remote from LE700 and LE705.
Picture quality on Sharp LE820 has a lot of very positive elements. The response time is low. The HD picture is beautiful and LE820 also has deep black levels and convincing shadow detailing. The standard settings are poor, however. Color reproduction and gradation is beautiful, too, and the glossy panel contributes with intensity and depth but also reflections.
Color accuracy is not perfect, however, and the Quattron panel pushed green a yellow a bit to make shades appear more vivid, but not 100 % accurate. The CMS color calibration system supplies the means to improve accuracy, though.
The DLNA does not support video but if you use USB instead you can actually playback DivX HD. The Time Shift Recording function is a welcoming feature and gives you some freedom but obviously it’s not an actual recording function.
Other than the green/yellow push, I’m very convinced by LE820. It has some of the typical LCD characteristics and if you’re a LCD enthusiast LE820 is a really interesting choice. Compared to the direct competitors I feel that Sharp has developed a very, very competitive and complete TV with LE820. The TV is an interesting step forward from Sharp and puts Sharp in the elite both in regards of design and LCD picture quality, and I hereby Award the LE820 with our Highly Recommended Award.
Press the award logo to learn more.
Subscribe to our Newsletter to receive e-mails when new reviews are online. We’ll soon publish our Panasonic V20 and VT20, Samsung C7000 and LG LE8500 reviews as well.
Sharp LE820 will be available in 40, 46, 52, and 60 inches called 40LE820, 46LE820, 52LE820, and 60LE820.