The top 4 TV manufacturers are clearly Samsung, LG, Sony and Panasonic. These companies all made huge splashes in CES 2014 and all plan on moving the luxury category of TVs forward with all sorts of fancy approaches. But that doesn’t make Sharp any less of a player in the TV space as the struggling company continues its bid in promoting its AQUOS brand where many of the models feature some great technologies. Sharp does have the manufacturing arm for panels after all so it still has potential in attracting consumers. Sharp even offers a couple of affordable TVs including the Sharp LC-70LE650U, which has a pretty attractive $2,000 price tag.
You cannot expect the LC-70LE650U to have this cutting edge design given the midrange nature of this 70-inch display but it still looks pretty good with a noticeable but thin black bezel with a small AQUOS logo on the upper left and the usual Sharp logo on the center of the thicker bottom bezel. Just below that logo is Sharp’s arrow symbol and a base that hardly puts the panel above the surface.
The back of the Sharp LC-70LE650U shows how well-rounded this TV is when it comes to inputs and outputs. It features 4 HDMI inputs, 2 USB ports, an RS-232C port, a D-sub, an Ethernet port and the usual arrangement of component and composite video inputs and audio inputs.
Thanks to the built-in Wi-Fi, it is pretty easy to connect the LC-70LE650U to the Internet. But the Sharp LC-70LE650U and other recent Sharp models try to be different by sporting a simple interface. Pressing the SmartCentral button on the remote control will popup this small quick bar on the bottom showing some apps that take the form of tiles. Launching an app is as simple as picking the tile you want using the left or right buttons. This quick bar only takes up a small bottom portion of the screen so whatever you are currently watching isn’t interrupted. The quick bar pretty much serves as favorites list where you can add apps or rearrange them. If you want to take a look at every app currently installed or wish to download more apps, you have to press the SmartCentral button again to see the full interface which takes up the entire screen. From there, you can check out the different category tabs and do things from social networking on Facebook to online video and music streaming through Pandora, Netflix and YouTube. Some games are available for the Sharp LC-70LE650U as well as a Web browser which does sport a few unique functions.
The Web browser comes with a multitasking feature enables the browser window to vertically take up half the screen. On the other half of the screen, you can continue to watch TV. Since this is a 70-inch TV, you should still be able to see a big picture. The Web browser also comes with built-in support for Adobe Flash content so you can check out those fun clips in sites like Newgrounds or watch any videos that are powered by Adobe Flash containers all through the LC-70LE650U without any added components.
While the quick bar serves as a speedy way to launch apps, you can launch the Netflix app even quicker as there is a dedicated Netflix button on the remote control. Many competing TVs take this approach as well but the Sharp LC-70LE650U takes it a bit further by offering 3 customizable remote control buttons labeled 1, 2 and 3. These numbers represent the first 3 apps on the quick bar so all you have to do place your top 3 apps on the very left. Any app will do including the Web browser so you can launch the browser immediately by pressing the button you assigned.
The dual-core processor does make the browsing experience pleasant but keying in input still takes time since the remote control doesn’t have its own QWERTY keyboard and the package doesn’t include a secondary remote. But you won’t have to buy a new keyboard if you already have a Bluetooth peripheral. Most Bluetooth keyboards and mice should have no problem connecting to the TV so you can better use the apps and browse the Web.
If you have an iOS or Android device, you can let that mobile device contribute to the TV experience as well. Sharp offers 2 free apps that work the LC-70LE650U – Sharp Beam and Sharp AQUOS remote. Sharp Beam allows you take actively playing video on your mobile device and beam it to your TV screen. Many video streaming services are supported including YouTube, Vimeo and numerous news websites. The AQUOS Remote app is pretty much an onscreen remote control where the buttons are organized into tabs. If you have multiple Sharp TVs that support the app, you can use the app to select the TV you want to control.
Finally, the Sharp LC-70LE650U comes with this cool mode called “Wallpaper Mode”. This feature basically turns your TV into a static picture frame where you can display any image of your choosing and have it sit there with a minimal light level to conserve power. The effect looks best if you mounted the TV to your wall.
The LC-70LE650U doesn’t feature all of Sharp’s flagship technologies but it does combine the AQUOS UV2A display with Sharp’s Quattron Color Technology. While the 4,000,000:1 contrast ratio is pretty standard for LED TVs nowadays, the AQUOS UV2A display allows even more light to enter to further emphasize bright scenes and combat light leakage when dark scenes are shown. It also renders fast-motion scenes quite smoothly because of the TV’s 120Hz refresh rate. This is a TV that you can enjoy if you enjoy watching Blu-ray movies.
The Sharp LC-70LE650U doesn’t really have any major strengths over the more popular competitors, but $1,999 is a pretty good deal for a 70-inch display. When you take that price into consideration, you can view the LC-70LE650U as a fairly good display with a good design, decent picture quality and worthy online features.
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