The 46LE831E’s stunning brightness and colour saturations are even more pronounced in 2D, for instance, making pictures look explosively dynamic and punchy. So dazzling are pictures, in fact (so long as you avoid the over-soft and over-warm Movie preset), that it takes a while to realise that a big contribution to the dynamism on show comes from the picture’s contrast. For where previous Quattron sets have suffered with rather milky black levels, dark scenes on the 46LE831E enjoy some of the richest, deepest, and most consistent black colours we’ve seen from edge LED technology.
Just occasionally, if there are a few bright image elements against a totally black background, you become aware of some marginal light level consistency flaws. But for the most part we found ourselves lost in admiration for what Sharp has achieved.
HD 2D pictures enjoy just as much clarity and definition as their 3D counterparts,, and this deft, pixel-perfect clarity is achieved without exaggerating noise or looking forced (so long as you don’t push the Sharpness bar past its default 0 position).
Even the 46LE831E’s standard definition performance is a marked improvement over the rather grubby efforts of the 60LE925, with slightly more sharpness and considerably less noise. Sharp has some way to go before its 2D pictures compare with, say, Samsung’s, but with the 46LE831E it’s heading the right way.
It’s customary now for us to comment on a TV’s potential as a gaming screen, and here again the 46LE831E comes up trumps. Using the provided Game mode and with noise reduction turned off (something the Game mode doesn’t do automatically for some reason), we measured input lag at a reasonable-to-good 39ms - not enough, in other words, to allow you to blame the TV for any epic gaming fails!
Aside from the relatively small niggles already covered, the only negative things we can say about the 46LE831E’s pictures are that many of its image presets are unhelpful; that you thus need to play with the set's picture features rather regularly to keep it looking its best; that skin tones can sometimes look slightly ripe; and that yellow tones can occasionally look slightly dominant, as in the sequence where Bond fights a couple of assailants in a stairwell in Casino Royale.
There are operational issues too. We’ve touched on the rather cramped, cluttered onscreen menus. But also the electronic programme guide isn’t great, partly on account of the overwhelming amount of information it shows at once and partly because it’s rather slow to load and doesn't allow you to watch a small version of the TV picture while you explore the listings.
It also took an eternity for the channels to scan when we first set the TV up, but we guess this isn’t a big deal since you’ll probably never rerun the process.
Finishing with the 46LE831E’s sound, here again there’s a considerable improvement over Sharp TVs of the past. According to the spec sheet there’s a subwoofer inside the TV as well as the normal stereo speakers, and while this doesn’t allow the set to sound as potent as Philips’ similarly specified TVs, it does mean there’s slightly more richness and mid-range clarity to sound than we usually hear with flat TVs.
Sharp has struggled recently to make a big impact on the UK TV scene, but the 46LE831E really deserves to change this. It’s a bit clumsy in places, and its online features need expanding. But when push comes to shove it delivers some of the best 2D and especially 3D pictures we’ve ever seen at a price that’s much more reasonable than expected.