On paper at least, we’re already in love with the Sharp LC70LE741E. Why? Simple: it’s a 70in TV - yes, that’s 70in - that costs just £2,499.99. That’s only £500 more than you’d expect to pay for the 'measly' 55in Samsung UE55ES8000 flagship TV, and is actually around £850 less than you’d need to pay for the piffling (though undoubtedly brilliant) 65in Panasonic P65VT50 plasma TV.
In other words, the Sharp LC-70LE741E is the most enticing evidence yet of Sharp’s delightful 2012 policy of shipping massive TVs for small prices. And as dedicated followers of the adage that bigger is always better where TVs are concerned, it’s a policy we want to support whole heartedly. So long, of course, as the TVs have some quality to go with their quantity.
Aesthetically the LC-70LE741E is a mixed bag. From the front we quite like it; yes, its bezel is quite chunky by today’s standards, but its finish is suitably glossy, its corners are smartly angular, and there’s an appealing little angled grey section along the bottom edge offset by an (optionally) illuminated version of Sharp’s ‘mountain top’ logo.
Its rear is much chunkier than that of most TVs we see these days. But we’ve seen plenty of evidence to suggest that bigger rear ends can be helpful in boosting picture quality with LED-lit LCD TVs. Plus, of course, the last time we checked, we tend to look at the front of a TV rather more than its backside.
Connections on the Sharp LC-70LE741E are fairly strong. You get four HDMIs built to the v1.4 spec, as well as three USB ports for recording from the built-in Freeview HD tuner or playing back video, photo and music files from USB storage devices; a LAN port for connecting to DLNA PCs or Sharp’s AquosNet online service; and Wi-Fi via an included USB dongle.
One moan we’d raise at this point is that the TV isn’t as easy to get connected to your PC as it ideally would be. So much so that we can see quite a few people not bothering to follow the process through.
Looking at the technology inside the 70LE741E, we’re slightly concerned to find that it uses edge LED lighting rather than the direct LED lighting found on Sharp’s 8 series TVs. Even on the smaller 60LE636E we tested recently, the use of edge LED lighting led to some pretty severe backlight uniformity problems, where during dark scenes we could clearly see a number of areas of the picture that looked unnaturally brighter than others.
Given that the Sharp LC-70LE741E requires the edge LED lighting to spread a whole 10in further, the worry has to be that the backlight consistency problems will only get worse.
The screen is a full HD affair, and it’s driven by a 100Hz processing engine with an extra, proprietary ‘film dejudder’ element. It also boasts active 3D playback, though no 3D glasses are included; you’ll have to buy those separately, at a cost of around £65 a pair. This is a bit annoying, but not the end of the world given how affordable this giant screen is.
The last things to mention about the 70LE741E’s specification are that it doesn’t use Sharp’s Quattron technology (which adds a yellow subpixel to the usual RGB set up), and that despite its enormous size, it still bags an A for energy efficiency.