The pleasant surprises continue as you start to explore the Sharp 60LE636E’s menus. For tucked away among the options is a surprisingly wide selection of picture adjustments, including a reasonably satisfying colour management system.
The menus themselves are interesting too, niftily using a dual-axis system based around the top and right edges of the screen so that you’re able to retain a full but slightly reduced version of the TV picture while you explore the menus.
There is a downside to this clever idea in that the menus feels a bit cramped, cluttered and littered with shorthand. As with Sony’s recent TVs, moreover, the double axis system can lead to more confused shuffling around with the nav keys than a more straightforward arrangement would. But overall the positives of the system just about outweigh the negatives.
Surely, surely it would just be too much to ask for the Sharp 60LE636E to dish up some high quality pictures to go with its surprisingly good feature count and jaw-dropping price? Actually, first impressions suggest that yet again the 60LE636E will defy expectations in spectacular style. For instance, it initially looks as if the screen somehow manages to avoid all of the usual weaknesses we’d expect to find on an ‘uber budget’ TV.
For starters, the clarity of the 60LE636E’s images is striking. And the main reason it makes such an impact is that the screen suffers impressively little with the sort of motion blurring we generally find on cheap screens. This is particularly pleasing given that motion blur was once a weakness of Sharp’s LCD TVs.
Presumably the screen’s 100Hz system helps out in this regard - and provided you avoid the ‘high’ settings of the TV’s Fine Motion and Film motion control modes, it does so without throwing up lots of unpleasant side effects or making the picture look unnatural.
The motion is so decent on the 60LE636E, in fact, that it’s clear the TV’s core panel is also a faster-responding, more high-quality design than the ones usually found in super-affordable TVs.
Underlining this impression of a superior panel at the 60LE636E’s heart is the punchiness of its pictures. With HD in particular the combination of an apparently wide contrast range with bold, vibrantly saturated colours immediately grabs your attention. Especially as the colour boldness isn’t in the least bit cartoonish and plasticky, thanks to the appearance of plenty of subtlety when it comes to tone and shade.
The actual range of colours the screen can produce goes well beyond that of most ‘budget’ TVs too. Yet the TV still manages to retain a mostly natural balance between them all, with no particular tones standing out unnaturally strongly from the rest.
Detail levels in HD images are reasonably high too. There’s not quite the same level of almost forensic accuracy you get with the best of the more expensive big-screen sets, but HD most definitely always looks HD.