Standard definition performance
The screen – probably inevitably for its money – struggles a bit with standard definition sources. After all, on a 60in screen there can be no hiding place for any problems in either the source material or the TV’s upscaling processing. So it’s impossible not to notice that images from standard definition Freeview broadcasts look a bit softer than we’d like.
Also, in an odd but common trait of LCD TVs, the colour palette with standard def images looks more compressed and less natural than it does with HD.
Standard def images on the 60LE636E certainly aren’t a dead loss though. For the set’s motion clarity remains intact, and best of all the screen does a pretty good job of processing out the worst of the fizzing and blocking noise commonly associated with Freeview broadcasts.
Input lag and sound
In yet more good news, the screen’s input lag is low enough at just over 30ms to have scarcely any impact on a console gamer’s skills, while the sound produced from the TV’s speakers is much more rounded, clear and satisfying than the sort of flimsy, thin audio horror shows found on the vast majority of affordable flat TVs.
So we guess it’s about time we got to the source of the frustration referred to at this review’s start…
Regular readers of our TV reviews will know that all-too-many edge LED TVs find it difficult to illuminate their screen’s evenly – a problem which tends to become even more common when you get to really large screens. And sadly the 60LE636E is certainly not the exception that proves the rule.
Watching dark scenes on its screen routinely reveals numerous patches of the picture that look brighter and cloudier than the rest. Right down each side, for instance, there’s a sense of clouding during dark scenes that spreads three to four inches in across the screen. But there are also other smaller patches of extra brightness over the image’s more central portions, meaning that when the problem shows up over dark scenes, it’s pretty much impossible to ignore it or to try and pretend isn’t really there.
In some cases, backlight consistency flaws of the sort we’re talking about can be fairly easily ‘tuned out’ by reducing a TV’s backlight and brightness levels. However, the inconsistencies on the Sharp 60LE636E proved pretty resilient, to the extent that there were still traces of them around even after we’d taken so much brightness out of the picture that shadow detailing had almost completely disappeared.
You rarely notice the backlight inconsistencies when watching normal, bright TV programming, and their impact is also reduced if your room is pretty light. But it seems unfeasible to us that anyone buying a TV as enormous as the 60LE636E won’t sometimes fancy dimming the lights and settling down to watch a film. A film which, almost inevitably, will feature at least a few very dark scenes ready to be tainted by the backlight flaws. Damn and, indeed, blast.
There’s so much to love about the 60LE636E that not being able to give it a Trusted Reviews Recommends badge feels genuinely tragic. It looks great, most things about its pictures are great, it has more useful features than is even remotely reasonable to wish for on such a preposterously big LCD TV, and it even manages to sound pretty good.
It’s just a hell of a shame that while any £999 60in TV that gets so many things right absolutely demands an audition by any big-screen fan, its single serious flaw is most likely to come to the fore at precisely the moments when movie fans will least want to see it.
Score in detail
Image Quality 7
Sound Quality 8