The Sharp Aquos LE640U series isn't for everyone. But despite some technical bumps in the road, it offers just high enough picture quality, just enough in the way of features and just low enough a price to make it a contender among those looking for a really big screen at a pretty decent price.
Some ups, some downs, but overall not a bad choice for family viewing. The Sharp LE640U won't be a videophile's first choice (nor the second one, for that matter), but that doesn't mean that picture quality isn't pretty good on average. This TV won't look that great in a darkened theater room. Blacks aren't the deepest around, but are far from the worst as well. Even better, the set sports an impressive contrast ratio and high peak brightness. Buttressed by a refection-fighting matte screen, that makes the LE640U a better-than-average performer in well-lit spaces, such as living rooms and family rooms. Uniformity is about typical for edge-lit LED sets.
Like black levels, color performance isn't terrible but falls short of the best. Still, while most reviewers do note some inaccuracies, they add that color isn't bad, and most critical aspects of color performance -- such as skin tones -- look perfectly fine or can be adjusted to be that way.
The biggest annoyance with the Sharp Aquos LE640U is with its video processing. Judder is more noticeable on this set than most, and CNET reports that it's because this set has problems correctly processing 24 frames-per-second (fps) content -- such as movies recorded on Blu-ray Discs. That's compounded by a dejudder feature that lacks flexibility (it's on or it's off, reviews say) and that's too heavy-handed (in the opinion of some expert reviewers) when activated.
How much of an issue this will be for you will depend on how sensitive you are to judder -- something that's always been part of film content watched on TV -- or if you are among those who like the super-smooth motion of video that's had judder removed, and many do. Among reviewers, LCDTVBuyingGuide.com's Robert Wiley recommends leaving dejudder off for films, adding most viewers will quickly stop noticing the effect. TelevisionInfo.com, on the other hand, complains that the set's judder is too "distractingly halting," making this TV only appropriate for fans of film smoothing.
No 3D, limited Internet connectivity, but live help could be a major plus for some. On the features front, things are a mixed bag, but not a bad one. The big missing feature is 3D; how big a deal that is is open to debate, as 3D hasn't been the hit some had hoped for. There is Internet connectivity, though it's not as comprehensive as what's offered in some other sets. The big missing content partners are Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant; still, most content types are available. Wi-Fi is built in.
Sharp does enjoy one major plus on the Internet front, Aquos Advantage Live, which offers expansive on-line help. Aquos Advantage Live also lets Sharp's customer service and support reps directly access the LE640U to troubleshoot issues and help owners get their TVs set up properly. That leads CNET to say "Sharp's built-in help is the best in the business."
Finally, the TV offers an enhanced 120 Hz refresh rate. That's a true 120 Hz, not a spec derived from combining the set's native refresh rate with the scanning speed of its backlight -- something that's being increasingly done by some of the company's competitors.
Understated look doesn't excite … or offend. Critics don't do handsprings over the more or less classic look of the LE640U, but they find little to criticize. The matte-black bezel is tastefully slim, with a slight taper. The stand does not swivel. The long and thin clicker is not backlit, and some say the keys are too closely spaced. Connectivity is ample, and ports are easy to access.
Good bang for the buck, especially in larger screen sizes. In its 52-inch screen size, the LE640U faces some stiff competition -- especially from the very well-reviewed 55-inch Vizio M3D550KD, which costs a little bit more but offers more features, better picture quality, and a slightly bigger screen. But when you jump up in picture size, the 60- and 70-inch versions of the Sharp LE640U are among the least expensive in their class, and offer performance that, while not perfect, is better than their pricing might suggest.
The Sharp LE640U isn't a videophile's dream set by any stretch of the imagination. However, above average performance -- especially in living spaces with typical lighting -- and decent features (as long as you don't have your heart set on 3D) add up to a compelling package for families on a budget who still want a big-screen TV.
Review Credibility: Excellent The 60-inch Sharp Aquos LC-60LE640U isn't a top performer, says CNET in this testing-backed report. However, it's not a terrible one either, and the price might make it ideal for those in the market for a very large screen at a very low price.
Review: Sharp LC-60LE640U Review, David Katzmaier, June 12, 2012
Review Credibility: Excellent TelevisionInfo.com finds lots to like with the 52-inch Sharp LC-52LE640U, but throws up some caveats for potential buyers to consider. One is that color that falls short compared to competing sets. Another is motion processing that's called "unacceptable" regardless of which of two settings is used.
Review: Sharp LC-52LE640U, Christian Sherden, April 2, 2012
Review Credibility: Excellent The reviews at PCMag.com aren't quite as long and detailed as those at TelevisionInfo.com, and are fairly technical, but conclusions are clearly stated. Some minor color inaccuracies are noted, but blacks and the contrast ratio of the 60-inch Sharp LC-60LE640U test out well -- and the picture looks "excellent" to reviewer Will Greenwald.
Review: Sharp Aquos LC-60LE640U, Will Greenwald, April 13, 2012
Review Credibility: Excellent The 70-inch member of Sharp's LE640U family of big-screen HDTVs is evaluated here. Testing is done and results posted -- though not with the level of detail seen from several other reviewers. Discussion is also longer than in the past, but still relatively abbreviated. Comments and ratings can only be seen by subscribers, however.
Review: Sharp Aquos LC-70LE640U, Contributors to ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
5. LCDTV Buying Guide.com
Review Credibility: Very Good Reviews here aren't as polished as some, but are testing based. Picture quality and features find some criticism, but the bang for the buck makes the set a compelling choice. Robert Wiley calls the LC-60LE640U a top choice for value, and one that's "priced to move."
Review: Sharp LC-60LE640U Review, Robert Wiley, Not Dated
Review Credibility: Very Good Nearly 60 owners have left their impressions of the 60-inch Sharp LC-60LE640U as well as of other screen sizes in this series, which can be found elsewhere on the site. Satisfaction is generally pretty high, though not everyone is as pleased. Ninety percent say they would recommend the TV to a friend.
Review: Sharp - Aquos - 60" Class - LED - 1080p - 120Hz - Smart - HDTV, Contributors to BestBuy.com, Not Dated