A little under a month ago I looked at and NEARLY loved the 40LE600E - the first of Sharp's new breed of budget LCD TVs with direct LED backlighting. In fact, the only big problem I had with it was its tendency to suffer with motion blur. So I'm understandably excited today by the arrival of Sharp's 46in 46LE700E: a step-up LED model that adds 100Hz motion processing to proceedings.
My excitement wanes a little, though, as I clock the 46LE700E's looks. For to my eyes, the way it replaces the hip and trendy metallic strip that graced the bottom edge of the 40LE600E with a blue-tinged black plastic strip actually leaves it looking less attractive than its cheaper sibling.
But heck - this is a minor, maybe even a subjective point, and as such will be rendered utterly unimportant if the 46LE700E delivers the hoped-for picture quality improvements.
There's no debate about the 46LE700E's connections, though. It just outguns the 40LE600E, plain and simple, by adding an extra HDMI (bringing the total up to four) and enabling its USB port for JPEG and MP3 playback. While the 40LE600E also had a USB port, that one was only for service purposes.
It's a pity, I guess, that the 46LE700E doesn't take things a gear or two higher by, say, providing any Internet or DLNA PC access. But such features don't interest everybody, of course, and may well have led to the 46LE700E costing rather more than the reasonably aggressive £1,130 we've found it going for.
Actually, considering that the 46LE700E uses direct (as opposed to edge) LED lighting, complete with local dimming for an enhanced contrast performance, its price could be considered very aggressive. Though as I noted during the review of the 40LE600E, there is a reason why the 46LE700E isn't in the same sort of high price bracket as some other direct LED TVs, such as Sony's X4500 range and Sharp's own uber-expensive XS1E models. And that reason is that it employs relatively inexpensive white LED dimming rather than the costly RGB system used by many other direct LED TVs, and so may lack colour range versus its RGB counterparts.
It's possible, too, that the 46LE700E doesn't employ as many LED light arrays as more expensive models, but since Sharp has stated that it can't supply me with this information, I can't take this point any further…