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Sharp LC40LE700E Aquos

Sharp Aquos LC40LE700E 40in LED-backlit TV

Big in Japan – not bad here either

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The one noteworthy omission is the lack of an Ethernet port that could enable access to the online services that a number of manufacturers are now dabbling with. However, the appeal of watching blurry YouTube video clips on an HD TV is lost on us, so we weren’t overly concerned by that omission.

Sharp LC40LE700E Aquos

Picture perfect: the presets definitely need a bit of tweaking
Click for a larger image

The key feature of the LE700 range is its use of LED backlighting, with a full-screen array of LEDs that illuminate the entire LCD panel from behind – rather than merely positioning panels of LEDs around the edges of the screen, as is the case with some LED models.

Sharp claims that this produces brighter images with ‘mega contrast’ and more vibrant colours. In fact, we sometimes found that the colours were a little too vibrant, though this was mainly due to a rather poor collection of presets that seemed to vary between garishly bright or dull and lifeless. Fortunately, the remote control includes an AV Mode button that allows you to quickly cycle through the various presets, while the on-screen menu system provides more in-depth options for adjusting brightness, contrast and colour settings.

It didn’t take us long to fine-tune the image to our liking – though first-time HD owners might feel that the jargon-heavy manual could be a lot clearer when it comes to explaining many of the menu options. With that done we have to admit that the LC40LE700E really does produce very good image quality. Standard definition programmes suffer from the usual soft, airbrushed appearance that results from scaling them up to HD resolution, but the boldness of the colours does help to add impact here.

To test Sharp’s ‘mega contrast’ claims we also fired up some high-definition Batman movies, which genuinely benefitted from the crisp blackness produced by the LED backlighting as the Dark Knight prowls through the shadows of Gotham City.

Sharp LC40LE700E Aquos

The EPG can display varying durations – shown here is a 6-hour layout
Click for a larger image

The only minor disappointment was that the 100Hz feature wasn’t entirely successful and brighter, faster imagery such as Spiderman web-swinging across the rooftops does suffer slightly from motion blur. Rivals such as Sony and Toshiba perhaps have a slight edge in terms of their ability to cope with these artefacts, but the colours and contrast produced by the LC40LE700E still work extremely well for less frenetic scenes.

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