With relatively static material, meanwhile, the 52LE700E produces plenty of clarity and detail from HD sources. Especially since, pleasingly, the 100Hz engine delivers a notable reduction in motion blur compared to the rather blurry situation witnessed consistently on the LE600 models.
However, while the 100Hz system certainly makes motion look better, for me it doesn’t quite go far enough. There’s still obvious and quite consistent evidence of blurring, especially during camera pans – though this blurring is, at least, joined by very little judder.
Another problem is that while the 52LE700E’s huge screen acreage works well when selling the impact of the TV’s contrast performance, it also shows up a bit of a weakness in Sharp’s standard definition upscaling. For standard definition pictures just don’t look as sharp or noiseless as we’ve seen them on the best rival sets – most notably those from Sony, Philips and Samsung. They’re not unwatchably noisy or soft, by any means. It’s just that if you still find yourself watching a lot of standard def content, you can find your standard def needs served better elsewhere.
One final gripe I have with the 52LE700E's picture is that it seems a touch more prone to direct LED’s 'haloing' phenomenon - where you see subtle auras of light around particularly bright objects – than Sharp’s smaller direct LED sets. The effect is still extremely subtle when viewing the TV straight on, but can become quite pronounced at times if you have to watch the set from much of an angle.
The fact that I felt slightly more aware of haloing on the 52LE700E than I have on Sharp’s smaller LED-lit TVs actually makes some kind of scientific sense if you think about it, for each LED cluster is having to drive a larger physical area of the pixel than it has to in Sharp’s 46in or 40in sets.
Finally, a word about the 52LE700E's rather underwhelming audio performance. I’ve stated in previous Sharp LE600 and LE700 reviews that their speakers lack the power to deliver the sort of dynamics, volume and bass lines that I’d like them to. But these shortcomings seem particularly acute on the 52LE700E, by virtue of the way they leave the sound feeling so small compared with the vastness of the pictures.
There’s much to admire about Sharp’s 52LE700E, and we still can’t thank the brand enough for making the numerous delights of direct LED lighting so affordable in big-screen LCD TVs. But for me, Sharp’s cost-cutting approach to LED lighting doesn’t work quite as well at this 52in level as it does on the brand’s smaller screens. And motion blur and barely average sonics continue to be a problem for Sharp to work on for its next LED series.