If you want to be succeed in the TV industry, you need to innovate or at least catch on to what the other competitors are doing or you will be irrelevant. Sharp plans to steer itself in the right direction by not just coming up with competitive offerings but also come up with something that other TV companies haven’t launched at the time. Back in June 2013, Sharp came out swinging with their new Sharp LC-70UD1U model. Unsurprisingly, the LC-70UD1U is billed as a 4K display and even the company’s very first one but it has a secret weapon that hopes to sway potential buyers towards this model – THX certification.
4K displays remain a tough sell as the majority are committed to 1080p TVs for the unforeseeable future. So it is natural for companies like Sharp to make their ultra-high-definition TVs beautiful. The Sharp LC-70UD1U succeeds in that department because of its amazingly thin bezel and extra accents given to the slightly thicker bottom bezel. The horizontal silver still has some nice curves. Basically, the LC-70UD1U scores an elegant and unique design that even looks better than any of Sharp’s 1080p displays.
The back of the Sharp LC-70UD1U is no different from any of the older displays though. With 4 HDMI ports, a couple of USB ports and the other ordinary connections, the LC-70UD1U is pretty much ready to go with most standard home theater systems.
In terms of features, the Sharp LC-70UD1U doesn’t really bring anything new to the table although you will only notice this if you owned a recent Sharp TV in the past. It has the same SmartCentral experience as the other models and that is just fine because this take on the whole Smart TV idea is refreshingly minimal. The Smart Central button that brings up this interface doesn’t particularly stand out but it is located just next to the Menu button. Once pressed, you will see a small horizontal dock covering a small portion of the bottom screen. From there, it is pretty self-explanatory – you pick the tile you want to launch and that’s it. Each tile has its own logo so it feels like selecting a Windows 8 app from the Start screen but you only have a single row of tiles to pick from. Now only is it simple but it is also customizable as you can rearrange the selection and add new tiles if you wish to bring other installed apps to the forefront. The first 3 apps from the left of this bar are bound to special buttons on the Fav Apps area of the remote control for quick launching and there is a dedicated Netflix button too.
Pressing the Smart Central button while the bar is open takes the LC-70UD1U to a full screen version of the interface which has a straightforward design and isn’t very difficult to use overall. You can install apps and launch them after picking a category. Not exactly innovative but props to Sharp for at least coming up with a simple favorites bar. The array of apps and services are not as varied as other Smart TV platforms but at least you get the familiar essentials like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Facebook, YouTube, Pandora and dozens of others.
Of course, the Sharp LC-70UD1U must be connected to the Internet in order to enjoy these features and fortunate the process is real simple. If the TV is near the router, an Ethernet cable would be the best way to go especially if you want local streaming. Otherwise, setting up the TV’s built-in Wi-Fi is pretty simple.
If online services aren’t your thing, getting the TV hooked up to the Internet may still be a good idea once you find out how nice the Web browser is. Like any Web browser on a Smart TV platform, you can browse just about any website you like but most of these browsers cannot handle Adobe Flash content. The LC-70UD1U is a rare exception so you can visit those online streaming websites that may not have corresponding apps on the SmartCentral platform. It also has a split-screen feature which makes the browser take up 50% of the screen vertically and allocates the other half of the display to live TV so you can watch and surf at the same time. For a 70-inch TV, this split-screen setup works pretty well.
The Sharp LC-70UD1U is also equipped with Active 3D technology. The Bluetooth 3D glasses are a bit more expensive and only 2 pairs are included but these glasses promise better 3D detail than passive 3D technologies.
Like other Ultra HD displays, you get 4 times the resolution with the LC-70UD1U for a grand total of 3840 x 2160 pixels. For a large 70-inch display, that is a huge improvement in quality and it would be difficult to settle for a 1080p version once you see it (unless the price tag is too much). One peculiar thing about the display is its lack of Sharp’s Quattron technology. But that didn’t stop THX from giving the company’s very first THX 4K Certification and the logo looks real cool. The image quality really highlights the hard fact that this is one of Sharp’s best TVs to date. It also uses AquoMotion 240 for its refresh rate which is pretty low compared to their high-end 1080p displays. This really shows that a good 4K panel really makes everything right. It has another cool technology called Revelation 4K Upscaler which first evaluates the current resolution before it performs all the optimizations necessary to create a very good 4K picture. The Sharp LC-70UD1U has a more powerful sound system as well called the DuoBass system as it uses a pair of subwoofers and 6 speakers to deliver 35 watts of pure audio power.
The THX 4K Certification does give the LC-70UD1U the push it needs and brings Sharp back to the big A-list. However, this certification pushes the price by a huge margin as well. $5,999 is not a bad price to go with for a 70-inch display but prices of 4K displays are dropping down fast with even some models trying to go under $1,000. But for now, spending extra on a TV like this is worthwhile if you want an amazing visual and audio experience.
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