Initially we didn’t feel like the 40LE831E was handling motion in 3D pictures quite as successfully as its larger sibling. But a little tinkering with the set’s processing - in particular, removing noise reduction and turning the Film Mode down to Low or completely off - thankfully improved motion reproduction considerably.
With 2D the 40LE831E continues to impress. Colours look rich, pure and, where yellows and golds are concerned, much punchier and more dynamic than you will see on any non-Quattron TV.
You have to do a little work in the colour management system to stop skin tones and some greens looking rather yellow in the TV’s out-of-the-box state, but once this is done colours combine impressive purity with high levels of vibrancy and an extremely wide and unusually subtle palette.
The biggest area of improvement with the 40LE831E’s 2D pictures, though, concerns their black level response. The relative translucency of Quattron pixels due to their yellow component meant that first generation Quattron panels tended to look rather grey in dark areas. But with the 40LE831E Sharp has managed to deliver blacks that actually look black - and with relatively minor amounts of backlight bleed for an edge LED TV too, provided you don’t try and set the backlight higher than around its half way point.
Standard definition pictures are upscaled to the panel’s full HD resolution noticeably more successfully than was the case with the previous Quattron generation too, with more sharpness and less noise.
The one negative thing we would say is that rather oddly, 2D viewing underlines the vague sense we had while watching 3D that the 40LE831E’s picture looks a bit softer - even with HD - than that of the 46LE831E, especially when there’s a lot of motion to handle.
The 40LE831E’s audio is better than you would expect from a TV with such a narrow bezel and slender rear. A built-in subwoofer both relieves some pressure from what would otherwise have been a crowded mid-range, and provides a slightly deeper maximum bass level than is common with flat TVs.
The 40LE831E is ultimately not quite as desirable as the 46LE831E, partly due to the way its smaller size decreases its 3D impact, and partly due to the 40LE831E’s marginally less sharp HD pictures. But it’s still a very fine TV for its money, especially if you fancy getting a little good quality active 3D in your life.