Sharp's jumping into the mainstream LED pool with Aquos LED (they had the pricier XS1). Sharp says theirs are better, since they make their own LEDs and use a next-gen LCD substrate. But there's no local dimming. WTF? Updated
Like Sony, Samsung, Toshiba and even Vizio, these sets are backlit by a grid of LEDs. But unlike those models, these don't dim parts of that grid to provide crazy contrast—that is, they don't do local dimming. (For more, check out our Giz Explains on LED TV technology). The lack of local dimming could mean that, in tests, the blacks in bright scenes won't be on par with the best of those TVs above. Sharp's excuse was that their X-Gen panel with 10-bit processing lets them align the pixels in crazy ways for good black levels, so they don't need local dimming. And admittedly, here, the blacks look pretty good, but I'd want to see 'em side by side with a local-dimming set.
Sharp is, however, promising local dimming on future sets—along with lower-end edge-lit models, and super high-end ones with RGB LEDs, like Sony's XBR8, for better color, but you'll have to pay more to get the nicer LED systems. That's right kids, buying an LED TV is going to get more complicated in the future. But that's all for CES 2010 and beyond. And at least, by 2010, Sharp's LCD TV product manager Anthony Favia told us, you'll see LED TVs hit "price parity" with traditional CCFL sets. For now, we have the LE700, a step in the right direction. Here's the size price/breakdown:
• $2799 for 52 inch
• $2199 for 46 inch
• $1699 for 40 inch
• $1099 for 32 inch
You'll notice as well that they don't do streaming video or use Yahoo's widget platform for services like Amazon or Flickr like Vizio's pimping—Sharp says they're looking into Yahoo, but obviously it'll be 2010 before we see TVs with it or any other video service. This is partly, they say, waiting for true HD streaming to be available. In the meantime, they've got the ahead-of-its-time but now anemic Aquos Net, though it doesn't do any video stuff.
In other words, between more diverse (and cheaper) LED models and streaming video on their sets, Sharp's really pointing to 2010 as the magic moment. Sharp's VP of marketing Bob Scaglione promises that Sharp will become "the most aggressive" player in LED TVs. It's too bad about this year, though.
The Aquos LED TVs look really classy in person, though. I'll give Sharp that much right now.
SHARP INTRODUCES AQUOS® LED
Breakthrough New Line of LED Backlit LCD TVs Bring Superior Brightness and Image Quality Combined with Industry's Lowest Power Consumption for True Value
NEW YORK, July 7, 2009 – Sharp Electronics unveils, for the first time worldwide, AQUOS LED, an LCD TV series that provides the ultimate in picture quality and value, offering consumers the lowest power consumption of any available LCD TV. A new series of LCD TVs that combines Sharp's award-winning AQUOS LCD technology with a Full-Array LED backlight system, the new LE700 AQUOS LED series delivers unprecedented image quality and energy-efficient, eco-friendly performance. This Full-HD 1080p LCD TV series, available in 52- (LC-52LE700UN), 46- (LC-46LE700UN), 40- (LC-40E700UN) and 32-inch (LC-32LE700UN) screen class sizes (52 1/32", 45 63/64", 40", and 31 35/64" diagonal respectively), introduces a newly-developed X-Gen Panel with advanced pixel control for extremely deep black levels.
The AQUOS LED series also includes Sharp's AQUOS Net™* capability, a service that gives users instant access to customized Web-based content as well as real-time customer support.
"Sharp demonstrated the unlimited possibilities of LCD, bringing the first LED back-lit AQUOS LCD TV to market last year, and we continue to advance the category today," said Bob Scaglione, senior vice president and group manager, Product and Marketing Group, Sharp Electronics Corporation. "With the introduction of the AQUOS LED series, we are bringing consumers an affordable display solution with superior picture and environmental performance that provides a true value. Sharp is able to deliver a price-competitive yet high-performance product by producing many of the key components of the TV, including the LED components and the LCD panel."
Superior Picture Quality
The proprietary AQUOS LED system incorporates Sharp's UltraBrilliant LED backlight technology that illuminates the TV to extremely high brightness and contrast levels. The system includes a full array of LEDs evenly dispersed behind the diffuser, resulting in more uniform colors and brightness across the entire screen, as well as improved color purity for the smoothest picture possible. Additionally, this series uses Sharp's proprietary next-generation Full HD 1080p X-Gen LCD panel with 10-bit processing, designed with advanced pixel control to minimize light leakage, producing extremely deep black levels. The X-Gen panel also provides a wider aperture to allow more light to pass through the panel, resulting in higher peak brightness. The panel provides Spectral Contrast Engine MC for an extremely high Dynamic Contrast Ratio of more than 2,000,000:1 for crisp picture quality and vibrant colors, as well as a special dejudder feature (on the LC-52LE700UN and LC-46LE700UN) that results in the smooth reproduction of film content.
Rounding out this premium picture, the series offers Fine Motion Enhanced technology for 120Hz Frame Rate Conversion and a fast pixel response time of 4ms, providing the ultimate medium for high-definition viewing, ensuring viewers never miss a detail. For flexible room placement, the series has impressive 176-degree viewing angles, enabling the color reproduction to appear bright and vivid from virtually anywhere in a room.
In addition to a first-class picture, the AQUOS LED series was designed to bring overall value to the consumer, with several eco-friendly improvements enabled by LED technology. The UltraBrilliant full array LED backlight enables precise light output with higher luminance per watt so less power is needed. The TV is also equipped with a system designed to lower power consumption during use by adjusting the screen brightness based on the level of brightness in the area of installation. In fact, this series offers the industry's lowest power consumption of any LCD TV currently available on the market.** The LC-52LE700UN consumes 105W, exceeding the EPA's ENERGY STAR criteria for TVs: Version 3.0 by 68 percent; the LC-46LE700UN consumes 90W, exceeding ENERGY STAR guidelines by 63 percent; the LC-40LE700UN consumes 75W, exceeding ENERGY STAR guidelines by 60 percent; and the LC-32LE700UN consumes 55W, exceeding ENERGY STAR guidelines by 52 percent.
In addition to lower power consumption, the AQUOS LED series is built to last longer - as a solid-state light source, LEDs generate less heat and are more durable, leading to a longer lifespan – an expected 100,000 hours, two thirds longer than traditional LCD TVs.
This TV series also uses eco-friendly components and uses no mercury – LED is a mercury-free light source. The units house fewer components with a reduction of heavy metals, which makes for easy recycling and an overall carbon footprint reduction.
Included in the LE700 series*, AQUOS Net is an internet-based service that gives Sharp AQUOS customers access to personalized information. Viewers can check everyday information with a push of a button on the television's remote control, in either full screen or split screen. Currently available through AQUOS Net is content from Weatherbug to check the local forecast, NASDAQ for stock quotes, Accedo Broadband for casual games such as blackjack and Sudoku, UCLICK to follow daily comic strips, daily local NAVTEQ Traffic™ reports, AQUOS Gallery, which provides users with beautiful high-resolution 1080p images of scenery and nature, and a variety of web-based content from NBCU's broad portfolio.
Through AQUOS Net, consumers also have access to unparalleled customer support for their television, including the ability to have dedicated AQUOS AdvantageSM advisors connect remotely to their TV to assist in adjusting the TV's settings and optimizing picture quality for the best viewing experience. This interactive tool, known as AQUOS Advantage LiveSM, is easily accessible from the AQUOS Net home page.
These Full-HD 1080p models boast an array of connection options, including four HDMI™ (v1.3 with Deep Color) and two component video inputs, all of which are 1080p compatible, accepting signals from Blu-ray Disc™ players and advanced gaming devices. A true high-definition TV, each model houses a built-in ATSC, QAM and NTSC tuner for access to DTV and analog TV channels. The LE700 series also features an RS-232C input for custom installations and a PC input so the TV serves a dual purpose as a PC monitor. Additionally, Sharp's AQUOS LINK™ feature allows users to seamlessly control compatible, HDMI-connected products using a single remote control. The series also includes a USB photo/music player* for the convenience of high-resolution digital photo viewing and MP3 music enjoyment on the TV.
* The LC-52LE700UN will be available in July for a Manufacturer's Suggested List Price of $2,799.99
* The LC-46LE700UN will be available in July for an MSRP of $2,199.99
* The LC-40LE700UN will be available in July for an MSRP of $1,699.99
* The LC-32LE700UN will be available in July for an MSRP of $1,099.99
For more information on Sharp's full line of Liquid Crystal Televisions, contact Sharp Electronics Corporation, Sharp Plaza, Mahwah, N.J., 07495-1163, or call 800-BE-SHARP. For online product information, visit Sharp's Web site at sharpusa.com. Become a fan of Sharp AQUOS at www.facebook.com/SharpAQUOS.