Opting to address our concerns about the Sharp LC-70LE741E’s handling of dark movie footage right at the end, the next source we fed into the set was a selection of 3D material. And sadly the giant screen proved rather disappointing.
On the upside, the huge size of the screen is perfectly suited to 3D, filling your field of vision in just the way we like to make 3D really effective. There’s also a decent amount of detail and depth to 3D images, and they look bright and colourful despite the dimming effect of the active shutter glasses.
Crosstalk spoils the day
However, as with most if not all other 100Hz active 3D TVs we’ve seen, 3D images are pretty much ruined by crosstalk noise. The amount of double ghosting present in almost every 3D frame is hugely distracting, and really takes the edge off the HD detailing noted a moment ago. We also detected some apparent colour errors around the edges of some boldly hued objects in 3D mode - an effect that’s also possibly down to crosstalk of sorts.
While we guess the 70LE741E’s 3D pictures aren’t so bad as to be called completely unwatchable, they are not exactly enjoyable. So this is not the TV for you if you’re a serious 3D fan.
And so we get to the moment of truth: does the edge LED lighting come a cropper with dark scenes? Thankfully, nowhere near as much as we’d expected. In fact, for most of the time we were very pleased indeed with how well the set handled a selection of contrast-rich movie sequences. Phew.
Good black levels
For starters, the set’s basic black level response is rather good, hitting a depth of blackness that’s both markedly deeper than we’d expected and beyond what many of its rivals can manage. With the backlight set to around its -5 level (using a peculiar scale of -16 to 16), blacks genuinely look black, with only a hint of the grey ‘wash’ so common on LCD TVs.
What makes this achievement particularly impressive is the fact that the set still manages to retain a really good amount of shadow detail in dark areas, as well as leaving bright parts of predominantly dark pictures looking decently punchy. And then, of course, there’s the all-important fact that despite this tricky combination of deep blacks and bold colours, backlight inconsistencies really aren’t bad at all.
Good cloud control
In fact, with the backlight set as noted earlier, we only became aware of greyish ‘clouds’ during exceptionally dark shots, such as where the film title moves towards the screen at the start of Harry Potter: The Deathly Hollows Pt 2, and the horrendously difficult to reproduce shot at the start of Chapter 12 of the Harry Potter Blu-ray, where Voldemort’s army amasses on the hill above Hogwarts. And even when the inconsistency clouds do appear, they’re not as glaringly obvious as they can be on many rival edge LCD TVs - including Sharp’s own 60LE636.
The bottom line is that the very flawed ‘serious movie viewing’ experience of the 60LE636 is here replaced by an extremely enjoyable one. A fact which is enough in itself, surely, to commend the Sharp LC-70LE741E to an awful lot of cash-strapped big-screen home cinema fans. Especially as we didn’t feel as troubled by the motion blurring mentioned earlier when watching high-quality Blu-rays.
The motion blur proved surprisingly untroubling while gaming on the 70LE741E too, and we were relieved to find the screen turning in a very respectable input lag figure of just 35ms - low enough to leave your ‘twitch’ gaming skills pretty much unaffected. In fact, let’s make no bones about this: gaming on the 70LE741E is spectacularly fun, immersing you in the action in a way no smaller screen can. It even potentially gives you a small advantage in games where seeing small movements in the distance is important.
The Sharp LC-70LE741E manages to accompany its engagingly cinematic pictures with a respectable audio performance, which boasts more volume, dynamic range and clarity under pressure than you get with the vast majority of its smaller, slimmer rivals.
There are certainly areas Sharp could improve on with the 70LE741E. Its operating system is fiddly, its online services are too limited, and its motion handling is a little off the pace. We were also disappointed by its crosstalk-riddled 3D.
Despite all this, though, we had a hugely fun time with Sharp’s giant set. It’s comfortably good enough to make the vast majority of what we watched on it much more enjoyable than it would have looked on anything smaller - an impressive achievement indeed when you consider that all 70in of the 70LE741E can be yours for under £2,500.