Pros: Better color than past top Sharps, looks good in a typical living room
Cons: Dark movie scenes can show up some black-level deficiencies
Although I did not have access to true UHD content, Cleveland Plasma owner Chris Majoros arranged for me to spend some time with the 70UD1U and see how it handles the best of today's currently available sources.
With the settings at default for each mode, I took notes of how each picture mode looked in a mostly dark room and then measured each one. Measurements were done with an i1D3 meter profiled off a Jeti 1211 reference spectroradiometer.
Movie THX: (dark room)
After "movie THX" mode is selected, there is a selection for dark or bright room. These comments apply to the dark room settings.
Right away I was impressed with excellent definition and clarity. Detail in dark objects, also known as "shadow detail," appeared well balanced though possibly a bit too dark. There was lots of pop and immediacy in bright images. Dark images fared well for a non dimming LED display, though some black clouding could be discerned at times. Skin tones were a bit pink and pale. Color tone looked cool with a slight lack of richness in shadings, despite bright colors having excellent vibrancy. The picture had very good depth, and was exciting and punchy over all. Movie THX mode brought out a lot of the best in the 70UD1U.
Movie mode was slightly darker, with redder skin tones. Color overtones were cooler, and shadow detail was a bit too dark. There were still hints of greatness, but the image was less natural and exciting than in movie THX.
Standard featured a way too cool and clinical color tone, with bluish whites and a sterile look. It was also a bit dark and overly contrasty. Skin tones were pink and lacked natural richness. Shadow detail sank down into the black background, and the image was not very pleasing.
Over the top bright whites, poor shadow detail, and overenhanced pinkish skin tones were brought out in Dynamic mode. However, with all it's glaring faults, the image was very punchy with lots of pop.
User was bright and punchy, displaying bluish whites and pinkish skin tones, but otherwise had an exciting and engaging picture with good depth.
PC and game:
These were very similar to each other. They were also similar to user, but with slightly paler colors. They showed a very good picture overall hampered by a slightly cool, clinical overtone and pinkish skin tones.
The 70UD1U's semi-matte screen stays commendably dark in normal ambient lighting conditions, and glare is unobtrusive as long as care is taken to minimize harsh light shining directly onto the screen. Combined with the high brightness capability of the 70UD1U, that means it can look punchy even in moderately bright living rooms.
Viewing angle has been severely limited on nearly all the best LED LCDs from Sharp, Samsung, Sony, and others, giving skin tones a pale, purplish cast and washing out the picture from just a slight angle. The 70UD1U's viewing angle is also limited; however, the effect was not as pronounced as I have seen on many other high performance LCDs. In the 70UD1U's advanced settings, something called "Multi Pixel Drive", described as a "setting to widen viewing angle by controlling half tone", actually worked as claimed, lessening the paleness of skin tones off axis with no discernible side effects.
Black uniformity was acceptable, but not perfect: some clouding was visible in a mostly dark room. This effect may vary from one sample to the next and is fairly common in edge lit LED LCDs. Another common ailment of LCD technology, bluish tinted blacks, was also slightly evident. These tendencies, while not severe, may bother some viewers while watching dark movie content in a dark room. For movie lovers, a bias light placed behind the TV can help alleviate these effects.
White and gray uniformity was acceptable, though with a slight greenish tinge in the center that turned pink around the edges. Thankfully, this was not noticeable with program content.
In a departure from other high end Sharps, there was no CMS (color management system) adjustment in any mode, and there were no ISF modes. However, there was a multipoint grayscale and gamma adjustment that allowed very precise calibration. The calibration was done in movie THX mode.
The default contrast setting preserved full WTW (whiter than white) headroom. Setting contrast to +31 preserved WTW up to digital level 241 and had no color decoding side effects, and a setting of +32 clipped at level 235 (white). The multipoint adjustment progressively mistracked at contrast settings lower than 32.
There was an annoying blankout when any white balance adjustment was changed, which could wreak havoc on many spectroradiometers if taking continuous readings.
Luckily, there was little need for the lacking CMS adjustment, since all colors measured well after calibration. The worst results come from some green error at lower saturation points.
The contrast ratio measured about 4825:1, with blacks measuring .0083 fL in dark room mode and .0137 fL in bright room mode.
I encountered a strange bug when comparing picture modes after calibration: with the picture menu opened, if I started in movie THX, then switched to movie, and then back to movie THX, movie THX was significantly dimmer the second time after switching back until the menu was exited. That had no impact on real world performance, but it made comparisons tricky.
Initial viewing was done in a mostly dark room; later the lights were turned on and blinds were opened to test the bright room setting.
I was absolutely taken aback with how natural images of people looked in this final round of viewing. That was where the most immediate improvement was, skin tones transforming from slightly pale and pink to utterly lifelike and natural. Colors were rich but not overdone. The image had great depth and pop, especially in bright scenes. Whites looked pure and smooth. Detail was natural and sharp, without being etched or hyped.
I noticed no motion problems with Blu-ray or cable, though the wrong combination of settings could cause issues.
Despite some issues with blacks, the 70UD1U is an excellent performer, especially with brighter images and in moderate to brighter lit rooms.