If you want a huge flat-screen TV, the 80-inch Sharp Aquos LC-80LE632U is kind of hard to miss, literally. Experts are more wowed by the size of the screen than the quality of what's on it, though owners seem plenty pleased.
Note: Other, smaller Sharp TVs are part of the LE632U series but carry different specifications, so this report is not applicable to those models.
Perfectionists won't be impressed. Taking the emotion out of seeing an LED set that's this large, expert reviewers who've tested the Sharp LC-80LE632U have found plenty of technical shortfalls. The set uses a full-array LED backlight, but without local dimming. Both CNET and HDGuru.com measure black levels that are technically very good; however, CNET says that in real-world viewing the blacks looked more washed-out than other sets' on hand for comparison at the time of testing. HDGuru.com says black levels at the center of the image were much better than blacks at the edges.
Color comes in for some knocks as well, as experts all note that accuracy is not ideal. CNET notes, in particular, that images are notably biased toward the red end of the spectrum, giving everything a bit of a rosy glow -- with skin tones looking "flushed."
Uniformity technically isn't bad, but it might appear to be. Every LCD TV suffers to some extent from a limited viewing angle -- meaning how far you can sit from dead center (left or right, up or down), and still see the best picture quality. Even with normally large-screen TVs, finding a broad enough sweet spot (where the screen maintains best picture quality edge to edge) is a manageable task for all but the largest families or gatherings. That's not the case when the screen gets bumped up to 80 inches. As CNET notes, "Unless you're a football field away you're going to be sitting off-axis to more than a fair chunk of the screen." One positive is that the screen's matte finish helps the LC-80LE632U perform well in well-lit rooms.
With all this going against it, how do you explain the high level of satisfaction expressed in owner-written reviews? Maybe by bringing emotion back into the picture. Despite poking some pretty big holes in this big-screen TV's image quality, CNET's Ty Pendlebury notes that the whole experience of seeing images this large is still a bit awe-inspiring. "Being able to fill my vision with screen means program material, especially high-quality sources like Blu-ray, becomes more immersive and enjoyable in nearly every way," he writes.
No 3D, but otherwise not bad. The big plus here is the set's Internet connectivity. The interface is praised for its quickness. However, while the lineup of content providers covers all major content types, the lack of Amazon Instant and, especially, Hulu Plus is a definite minus. The TV is DLNA-compliant for streaming your own content from a PC on the same network. Wi-Fi is built in.
One nice extra is an Aquos Advantage live-help feature that lets Sharp's customer service and support reps access your set's settings to troubleshoot and fix common issues -- even if it involves other gear connected to the set via HDMI. CNET provides one example -- making sure an HDMI-connected cable box is set to output its images in the right resolutions.
It's big. Experts say that aside from size, there's nothing that earth-shattering with the LC-80LE632U when it comes to design. But, oh, that size: "The bezel is two-tone black, but frankly, in comparison with the overwhelming size of the panel itself the company could have decorated the perimeter with tastefully arranged roadkill and you'd scarcely notice," says CNET's Ty Pendlebury. As to the remote, while the screen of this TV is big and expansive, it's paired with a clicker that's "small and cluttered," says HDGuru.com. Connectivity is fine, and par for the course with better TVs.
The Sharp LC-80LE632U has a price tag that's as big as its screen, but that doesn't necessarily make it a bad value. How much of a value it is, though, is pretty much in the eye of the beholder. Owners -- at least those who rationalized buying the set in the first place -- don't have many quibbles with it. Neither does HDGuru.com, which compliments Sharp for offering a flat-panel TV at a price tag under $5,000. CNET, however, takes a somewhat contrary position, saying that its "ho-hum picture quality makes it a questionable value." As Pendlebury notes, if you are willing to spend what the LC-80LE632U costs, you can get a whole heck of a better TV -- just not one with nearly as large an image.
The Sharp LC-80LE632U isn't the only way to get an 80-inch screen for your viewing pleasure. Projection technology is another solution. However, front projectors require a lot of compromises, including a very dark room, to look their best -- or even acceptable -- while rear projectors are big and bulky, and makers are down to exactly one: Mitsubishi. On balance, the sheer audacity of the picture size makes the LC-80LE632U a statement TV set. Whether it's a statement you'll want to make is another question, however.
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Excellent CNET judges the 80-inch Sharp LC-80LE632U is an impressive set, at least until you turn it on to watch TV. The wow factor of a flat screen this large is undermined by not-so-hot picture quality and the physics of trying to watch an LCD set in a typical home setting.
Review: Sharp LC-80LE632U Review, Ty Pendlebury, June 12, 2012
Excellent HDGuru.com likes the Sharp LC-80LE632U a little bit more than CNET, but also notes a lot of downsides. This review is relatively technical, but is based on expert hands-on testing and states its conclusions in a way that's accessible to non-videophiles.
Review: Sharp LC-80LE632U Review, Gary Merson, May 17, 2012
Very Good While experts have their doubts about some aspects of the 80-inch Sharp LC80LE632U, owners don't: The 30 or so posting here are almost universally positive, with all but three giving it a top 5-star rating.
Review: Sharp Aquos 80" Class, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of Aug. 2012
Very Good There's only around half as much feedback on the 80-inch Sharp LC-80LE632U here as at Amazon.com, but satisfaction is equally high. Every owner thus far says that they would recommend the TV to a friend.
Review: Sharp - Aquos - 80" Class - LED - 1080p - 120Hz - Smart - HDTV, Contributors to BestBuy.com, As of Aug. 2012