Heading into the 46LE831E’s onscreen menus turns out to be quite a daunting adventure - mostly because there’s so much to get your teeth into, but partly because the menus struggle to deal with everything in an efficient way.
The basic idea behind the menus is solid. Hit the menu button and the picture shrinks down to accommodate a cross-axis set of menus based around the top right corner of the screen.
This means you can keep watching the picture while you make your adjustments. But it also means there isn’t as much space left as we’d like for the menu options, especially as they include such sophisticated fine-tuning tools as a colour management system (with hue, saturation and ‘value’ adjustments for the six primary colours), multiple settings for the TV’s scanning backlight, a gamma adjustment, and different levels of the set’s ‘Film Mode’ motion processing.
Both the Film Mode and Scanning backlight features need to be treated with great care, though, as they can make pictures look processed, artefact-heavy and generally unnatural if set to high. Actually, the Film Mode can cause flickering around moving objects even on its lowest-power setting during Blu-ray viewing.
Just as well, then, that unlike many previous Sharp TVs, the 46LE831E’s natural response time seems very good, meaning there’s precious little motion blur even with the motion processing options off.
The 46LE831E claims a 200Hz refresh rate thanks to the combination of the scanning backlight with native 100Hz processing. What’s more, the full HD panel is one of Sharp’s new X-Gen ones, which claims to boost contrast significantly by delivering more precise pixel control to reduce light leakage.
Popping on a pair of Sharp’s 3D glasses and settling down to watch the 46LE831E, two things became immediately apparent. First, the glasses are more comfortable than most, sitting comfortably on your nose and covering pretty much all of your field of vision. Second, 3D pictures look unexpectedly but gratifyingly brilliant.
The most strikingly obvious reason for this is the exceptionally small amount of crosstalk in the picture. Sharp’s press blurb on the 46LE831 suggests crosstalk has been reduced by at least 30% from the first 3D Quattron set, and from the puny amounts of ghosting we can see, this actually appears to be a conservative figure.
Crosstalk hasn’t been completely eliminated; it’s still vaguely evident on really tough sequences like the Tangled lantern or Golden Gate Bridge sequences in Monsters Vs Aliens. But you generally either won’t see it at all, or else it will appear more as a very subtle halo around an object rather than an obvious, distracting ‘ghost’.
Not having to squint through crosstalk makes it easier to appreciate the 46LE831’s lovely knack of bringing out the full HD detail levels in 3D Blu-rays, and the way this sharpness remains largely intact when there’s motion going on within the 3D frame.
Also pretty stunning about the 46LE831’s 3D pictures is how bright and vibrant they are. As we’ll confirm in the 2D section of this review, the set is arguably the brightest and most vibrant edge LED TV we’ve seen, which proves hugely effective in combatting the inevitable dimming effect of the active shutter glasses. The brightness also ensures that detail levels remain high even in dark parts of the picture.
Still reeling from the leap forward Sharp has made with its 3D pictures, we could scarcely wait to see how the improvements might translate to 2D. And for the most part we weren’t disappointed.