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Sharp Aquos LC-46LE821E 46in LED-Lit LCD TV review

John Archer



  • Recommended by TR
Sharp Aquos LC-46LE821E 46in LED-Lit LCD TV


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Review Price £1,169.29

The TV feature of the moment, without a shadow of doubt, is 3D. The hype surrounding this intriguing new TV development seemingly knows no bounds. Which is a damn shame for Sharp’s LC-46LE821E.

For rather than jumping on the 3D bandwagon, the 46in 46LE821E is ploughing its own innovation furrow with a little trick called Quad Pixel technology. A trick that’s tragically likely to get completely lost amid the whole 3D marketing maelstrom, despite the fact that it’s really rather good.

As you can doubtless tell from its name, Quad Pixel technology has something to do with the number four. And that ‘something’ is the addition of a yellow sub-pixel to the normal red, green and blue ones usually found in LCD TVs.

At first, this perhaps doesn’t sound all that significant compared with adding a whole extra depth dimension to images as offered by 3D. But anyone who’s had more than a passing interest in TVs will know that throughout the history of colour television, the thinking has always revolved around the core red, green and blue triumvirate. So for Sharp to suddenly expand this fundamental aspect of colour TV construction really is a big deal.

Of course, if adding a fourth colour sub-pixel to proceedings is really that important, you might well wonder why nobody else has done it before. But the answers to this are simply that a) making four sub-pixels happen requires the sort of out-of-the-box thinking that’s not always a feature of the AV world at large, and b) adding a fourth sub-pixel is actually pretty difficult.

After all, the 46LE821E only has the same screen ‘real estate’ to deal with as any ordinary 46in LCD TV. So Sharp has had to completely redesign its LCD pixel structure to make room for the yellow sub-pixel alongside its red, green and blue brethren. This process, Sharp claims, has taken no less than four years of R&D to perfect.

Needless to say, Sharp hasn’t just undertaken such an extensive development process for fun. Adding the yellow sub-pixel to proceedings promises to deliver some truly significant picture quality improvements.

The most obvious of these is an improved colour palette. Yellows, naturally, should be able to look much purer and more natural since there’s no longer a need for yellow colours to be ‘mixed’ from the red, green and blue pixels. But actually the impact goes much further than this, with yellow derivatives like gold and mustard also potentially looking much more accurate than they can on normal LCD TVs.

In fact, almost all colours have the potential to benefit from the yellow sub-pixel, since the more core colours a TV has at its disposal for creating hues across the spectrum, the more accurate those colours could be. Cue the charming claim by Sharp that its Quad Pixel TVs can produce 1,000 times more colour than any ordinary RGB model!

There’s a good reason why Sharp has chosen to add yellow rather than cyan or magenta to the RGB mix, too. For yellow is the most ‘transparent’ of the secondary trio of colours, allowing light to pass through more easily and so helping the 46LE821E potentially look brighter (20 per cent brighter, according to Sharp) than normal LCD TVs.

The relative translucency of the yellow sub-pixel should also help the 46LE821E run more efficiently, as it doesn’t have to push as much light out from its edge LED lighting array.

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May 11, 2010, 12:51 pm

Built Freeview HD recorder! All this TV needs is an online video streaming service (hello love film) and there's no need for any other boxes underneath your telly. Awesome.


May 11, 2010, 1:02 pm

i would rather have quad pixel tech be the mainstream rather than 3d tv's. especially if it makes the simpsons look better :p


May 11, 2010, 2:52 pm

Okay, so when do we see quad-(hex??)-pixel with direct LED lighting and 3D?! And while we're about it, let's can that 8GB of flash recording and build in a 500GB 2.5" HDD with dual Freeview HD tuners. Then make it network aware so recordings can be set and viewed from secondary Sharp screens in the house and I'll bin my Samsung LCD in a heartbeat.


May 11, 2010, 4:28 pm

Im not really sold by 3d because it isnt 3D it basically makes your TV Pictures look like a Kids pop out picture book.

This Sharp Looks Da Shizz

Is there a 52"


May 11, 2010, 9:19 pm

Im confused. It was my understanding that RGB were used because any colour could be mixed by a combination of those three colours, being the primary colours of light.

Also most AV people want their TV to match industry standards, ie what the director intended etc. If the production is done using a 3 colour pallette, isnt the TV extrapolating away from what was actually intended?


May 11, 2010, 10:47 pm

John, could be a bit more interesting if you put the gamma spectrum that covers the screen like 100% Adobe RGB, 98% NTSC, 150% sRGB ? ... of course a normal pixel is made of 3 sub-pixeles RedGreenBlue and now +Yellow, and i want it to know how much gamma has improved...thks and great review...


May 12, 2010, 12:26 pm

Is it me or does the facia of this Tv look like a Huge iPad


May 12, 2010, 2:00 pm

What about games? what about input lag? Can I hook up xbox/PC/ps3 to this TV and play my games without choppy gameplay? avforums always test consoles/PC and these bad boy tvs why don't you?


May 12, 2010, 3:00 pm

So true Montana2008, they never test if they are fully Mac & PC compliant without hickups like so many Tv's of the past


May 12, 2010, 5:40 pm

"Sadly, Sharp doesn’t seem to currently lavish anywhere near as much promotional muscle on its new technology as it deserves."

Yeah, but they've got Sulu!



May 19, 2010, 7:53 pm

John, if you're going to work for site calling itself Trusted Reviews, you'd do well to read this and educate yourself:-


Sharp's Quattron technology is yet more shameful marketting that you're helping them push.

I'd love for you to respond to this and justify why manufacturers such as Sharp who think that breaking an industry standard like Rec.709 is such a great thing for picture quality.


May 19, 2010, 9:19 pm

@BWL: That article deals with the Sharp's claims of a theoretical higher colour gamut, which we're sure are probably exaggerated. However, it doesn't refute the idea that in the real world a fourth sub-pixel could provide some benefits. They seem to infer it's all a waste of time but there's no proof.

Look at it this way, why would Sharp put all that time and money into developing such a technology if it didn't think there was some real world performance benefits? It's hardly like it makes the sets cheaper to produce!


May 19, 2010, 9:58 pm

@Ed: You've completely missed the point of what the article was saying - Rec.709 is a STANDARD with a defined gamut. The producer who makes a film or a TV show follows those standards, the colours they produce are all contained within that gamut. The second a TV manufacturer (and I don't just single out Sharp here) steps outside of that and start expanding gamuts, the only thing you'll be left with are oversaturated/incorrect colours. They can bang on all day long about your vivid yellows but they're still WRONG.

The _only_ reason Sharp think adding a yellow sub-pixel and expanding the gamut is "a good thing" is because they want to sell more TVs to people who know nothing about WHY there are standards in the first place. The same reason they have 240Hz panels and infinite contrast ratios. It's called marketing and wanting to differentiate yourself from the competition. It has little to do with giving the consumer what they need and it has no real world benefits. Then only reason Sharp picked yellow is because of the greater amount of light transmission it lets through. Had they actually picked a colour such as Magenta where there is more scope to expand the gamut (still a BAD thing!) then the benefits are even less as the amount of light getting through is diminished.

I would expect any site, especially yours, to hold itself to a higher standard and actually help with educating consumers instead of simply buying hook line and sinker what the likes of Sharp are peddling.

Adding a 4th, 5th or 6th subpixel is a waste of time as the current 3 are all that's required - no more, no less. If the intention is to create a wider gamut, the intention is misplaced and misleading for consumers.

Follow the standard, put your red, green and blue where they belong in the Rec.709 standard chart and you get a correct picture as the director intended.

But then what would Sharp have to sell you then? 3D? Pah, everyone's doing that these days!

Jan Andersen

May 20, 2010, 4:48 pm

Cant see if you did mention this - but the reason for the excelent details in dark scenes is cause this LCD panel is the new generation UV2 panel, developed and produced by Sharp. The new Sony LCD ( summer 2010 ) will be using UV2 panels from Sharp, so will the new Philips 7000 - 9000 models.

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