Review: Sharp LC-80LE857U
Sharp's exclusive Quattron technology has been passed along from last year's popular 844U to the new 857U. Some interesting picture quality related changes have been made, including a move from full array LED to edge lit backlighting, elimination of the "hidden until activated" ISF Day and Night picture modes, and the addition of a new "Vintage Movie" mode. The LC-80LE857U remains one of the largest consumer grade displays available, the king of which is Sharp's own 90" 745U model.
The 857u's semi-matte screen doesn't have the shiny, glass like surface of most competing models, but glare can still be a significant problem. In normal living rooms, the 857u's screen remains commendably dark provided care is taken to minimize glare and direct sunlight. In addition, the 857u's extremely high brightness capability allows the image to punch through an average amount of ambient light while maintaining a rich, exciting image. Off axis behavior remains a significant problem however, plaguing even mildly off center viewpoints with violet skin tones and reduced contrast. Be sure to arrange critical viewing positions directly in front of the screen, and tilt it down if it's mounted up high.Before calibration:
Without making any adjustments, I fed the 857U a 1080P signal and took a glance at how the different picture modes came across. After the initial viewing, I turned off the room light sensor and measured the otherwise untouched performance of some of the various modes.Standard (Energy Star)
rewards your efforts to go green with a picture that looks hyped and enhanced, with overexposed, homogenized, and bluish whites. Exciting? Well, in a way, but probably not what most enthusiasts are hoping for.Auto
featured more natural skin tones, but poor shadow detail and flat, crushed whites. It was also somewhat dark.Movie
mode was punchy with good contrast, but made everyone look pink. In addition, it had cool, somewhat bluish whites.The lower red saturation points can be seen to stray toward magenta,which caused the pink flesh tones. The gamma was fairly well controlled, if still a bit compressed.
The new Vintage Movie
had obvious flicker, which I found out later could be turned off, pink skin tones, and poor shadow detail. It did end up being an interesting mode, with an admirable attempt at recreating an old-time movie feel.Note the unusual gamma shape and improved but still lacking red saturation.Dynamic (fixed)
appeared very overexposed and highlighted. Whites were blazingly bright, but flat. Dark areas of the image sunk down into the black background, making dark hair and clothes look like blobs of tar; and unfortunately the overall look was very unnatural.Note the extremely high maximum light output, and the equally low gamma which compressed mid tones and bright levels together.Game
mode was a bit flat and undernourished, with pale and slightly pinkish skin tones. PC
mode was very similar to Game.
mode appeared similar to Auto
but was punchier and brighter, while being much more palatable than dynamic.
The infamous soap opera effect was present in most of the above modes, giving a strange hyper-real, yet somehow wrong, look to motion. Thankfully, though, through all of this the 857U showed that it did have good potential, with razor-sharp resolution and good contrast.Calibration:
Unlike with the 844U, I was not able to interface with the 875U with either CalMAN or ControlCal software. That was necessary on the 844U to open up it's ISF Day and Night modes. The ISF modes had similar adjustments to Movie mode, but with greater range. On the 857U, Movie mode does have all the necessary controls; but with it's limited range, Movie mode's 10pt adjustment could not be calibrated fully to D6500 without going into the service menu. The service menu does contain a 6 point white balance and gamma adjustment, though it is not designed to be intuitive. A decade ago, calibration was always done in the secret service menus, but in the last few years manufacturers have been moving those adjustments out into the advanced section of the user menus. Service menus are not only cryptic by design, but improper use can easily render a display useless; so they should be avoided whenever possible. However, in the 857U's case, I was not able to get close enough to the target white point and gamma without it. I ended up using the Service menu's 6 point adjustment for the bulk of the correction and using Movie mode's controls for refinement.
Measuring the relative light output of the various motion enhancement settings, I found that settings of Off
, 120 Low
, and 120 High
measured the same at 89 fL; switching to AquoMotion 240
dropped light output to 68 fL, and 240
was 67 fL. AquMotion 960
significantly dimmed the picture, reading 34 fL. Black levels went up and down along with light output, so the overall effect on light output was similar to different settings of the backlight. Contrast ratio changed less than 5%.
White uniformity was very good, with a just barely perceptible yellow/greenish tinge on the bottom corner. Black uniformity did not fare as well, with some clouding visible.After calibration:
The 857U measured well after calibration (see
SharpLC-80LE857U movie.pdf 1387k .pdf file
), though traces of Quattron related inaccuracies remained. Thankfully, they can be balanced out and the overall presentation was commendable. The biggest transformations in the 857U's performance were in the detail of bright objects and highlights, and also in the naturalness of flesh tones. Don't mistake the 857U's performance in the store with what it's capable of after some calibration TLC; the latter can be quite stunning.
In average ambient lighting, the clouding in the blacks is effectively masked, and the 857U's image shines through vibrantly. Contrast in average pictures is strong. Sports look great on the 857U, with natural looking fields, motion, and good detail.
If dark room movie watching isn't your main concern, the 857U is sure to please, with natural looking colors and a bright, clear picture.Edited by Chad B - 7/31/13 at 1:37pm