Sharp AQUOS LC-52LE700UN
By and large, Sharp's AQUOS LC-52LE700UN is an impressively designed set. It's slim, light and striking when setup on the bundled glossy stand. Thankfully, the cute glowing blue light beneath the logo can be toggled off for complete darkness when viewing a movie, and the LED-backlit panel can automatically adjust brightness based on ambient light. Usage was easy enough, though we can't help but kvetch about the limited abilities of AQUOS Net. Having web connectivity is great, but with sets out there using their Ethernet ports to stream Netflix, Blockbuster On Demand and other web-based content, seeing this implementation is just painful. Oh sure, you can check up on local traffic and view the latest headlines, but if you're looking at set in this price range, you're already doing that on your smartphone. Realistically, the only true use for internet connectivity on a TV is to stream media stored on your local network or show content housed on the web; AQUOS Net may have been groundbreaking in 2005, but these days, we simply expect more from a connected HDTV.
- 1080p X-Gen panel is gorgeous and sharp from all angles
- Amazing viewing angles in real-world use; great for wide living rooms
- Design is top-notch, though the glossy bezel and stand do attract fingerprints and dust
- Integrated TV tuner was quick to pick up channels
- Three HDMI sockets, VGA port and integrated Ethernet port for AQUOS Net
- Easy-to-grasp user interface
- Respectable sub-$1,600 street price
- Simplistic remote is lacking; it gets the job done, but a universal remote will be far more intuitive
- AQUOS Net isn't nearly advanced enough to be really useful
- Film modes can actually make DVDs look worse
- Advanced video tweaking options weren't nearly in-depth enough for our tastes
- No Netflix, VUDU or Blockbuster On Demand streaming puts the set at a real disadvantage compared to more connected rivals
- Poor descriptions for most advanced video settings
All told, this here set is a real looker, and the image quality is stunning... once you get it setup right. We were forced to tinker with the admittedly limited amount of advanced video settings for a few hours before we were satisfied with how our DVDs looked. The defaults are all fine and dandy for HDTV broadcasts and Blu-ray watching, but for less-than-HD sources, it took some serious tweaking to optimize things. We would've really appreciated a few more options and more descriptive labels within the UI. A number of on / off selections aren't really explained, leaving users to simply try things both ways if they plan on seeing the difference.
At under $1,600, the LC-52LE700UN is a fine set for those not concerned with advanced tweaking or web connectivity, but it's hard to wholeheartedly recommend an HDTV like this when so many more well-connected alternatives are on the market with similar price points. Perhaps if AQUOS Net is improved (read: given access to VUDU, Hulu, Netflix or any other major source of web content), we'd feel differently, but for now we wouldn't opt for this guy until we had a look at internet-friendly options from LG and Sony.