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Sharp Aquos LC-40LE600E 40in LED Backlit LCD TV - Sharp Aquos LC-40LE600E
Sharp has sensibly decided to shout about the technological shift it's making with the 40LE600E by giving it a rather swish new black and silver design.
I was a little concerned, perhaps, by how light the TV felt as I set it on its stand; it certainly feels as if a fair bit of cheap and cheerful plastic has gone into its chassis. But I guess the striking lightness of the TV at least makes it less demanding on your wall if you're thinking of hanging it up.
More disappointing though, is how few features the 40LE600E carries beyond its key LED engine. There's no online functionality of the sort now being offered by most of its big-name rivals. Nor can you access multimedia files stored on a PC, or even USB sticks. Even the most entry-level LCD TVs around tend to at least offer USB JPEG playback.
The 40LE600E's provision of three HDMIs rather than four or even five looks a little miserly by today's standards, too.
The only really notable picture processing system, meanwhile, is a Film mode that works on reducing judder in fast-moving backgrounds. This isn't bolstered by any 100Hz processing, and there doesn't appear to be anything particularly interesting going on processing-wise in terms of colour reproduction or sharpness, either.
Of course, though, it's inevitable that Sharp will have had to sacrifice something somewhere to make its direct LED engine available so affordable. And in any case, in many ways the 40LE600E's picture performance does a cracking job of making you forget about the odd missing feature.
Particularly easy on the eye is the 40LE600E's contrast range. At the dark end of the image spectrum, black colours are reproduced very convincingly, with practically no evidence of the blue/grey undertone we've so often witnessed with Sharp's non-LED LCD TVs.
It's a relief, too, to find that dark scenes seem to possess plenty of fine detail, showing that the screen's local dimming technology is astute enough not to push so hard for inky black levels that it 'forgets' to render bright elements in mostly dark areas.
It's also a relief that the 40LE600E looks largely free of direct LED's haloing problem, where the relatively low number of LED arrays versus pixels in the picture can lead to bright picture elements spreading across more of the picture than they're supposed to. Sure, there's a little bit of misty shadowing every now and then when a really bright image element sits right alongside a really dark one, but these moments are rare and subtle enough not to seriously upset. Especially when in my opinion you'll be too busy goggling instead at the fact that such bright and dark elements can co-exist so dynamically at all on an LCD screen.
The 40LE600E also makes its LED lighting count with its colour response. Tones across the colour spectrum enjoy a really startling intensity that makes many ordinary LCD screens look muted by comparison - especially when it comes to colourful elements in otherwise dark scenes, where ordinary LCD TVs would have to remove much of the brightness from the image in order to realise a decent black level response.
More good news finds the 40LE600E's colours not going into a tonal tailspin when you're watching standard definition, as used to be the case with Sharp's ordinary LCD TVs.