Looking Sharp

It may lack some essentials, but this 37-incher has an understated appeal, says Steve May

The LC-37LE320 is an LED flatscreen that takes its design cues, if not its picture technology, from Sharp’s high-end Quattron TV range. These panels squeezed a fourth pixel from the usual RGB array, and the yellow pixel’s arrival certainly led to a significant step up in performance.

The LE320 features a standard full HD panel without that extra pixel, but it still acquits itself well. Images prickle with detail, high brightness and colour vibrancy, courtesy of edge LED backlighting. And that’s only the half of it.

Fetching design

While the LE320’s bezel is regulation black, the screen has a curved back panel in glossy white. At 45cm deep, it’s not the thinnest LED beauty in town, but the ebony/ivory combo is certainly eye-catching.

Audio can be streamed from the set via a digital coax output. The right hand side of the screen has channel and volume switches, plus Menu and Source selection and a Power switch.

Perhaps surprisingly, the TV does not sport a Freeview HD tuner; it’s also limited in its connection – there’s no Ethernet or wi-fi. While many of its rivals are locked in a pitch battle to secure beach heads on the new connected TV frontline, this set remains unsocial.

By way of compensation, there’s a solitary DLNA-certified USB media player that does offer terrific multimedia support.

The Sharp’s user interface is not as flashy as its cabinet, preferring to offer nested text windows and a Now & Next programme guide. It’s basic, but if you dig deep into the picture and sound menus you’ll find plenty of settings to explore. Bizarrely, the advanced subsection of the picture menu has its own advanced subsection, too.

Driving the screen is a 100Hz picture engine, partnered to some Motion Judder compensation tech. While the screen delivers smooth cinematic pans, there’s a price to be paid. The set’s native motion picture resolution is reasonably good, edging just above 700 lines. You can increase it by engaging the 100Hz picture processor (choose from three levels). However, all three introduce motion artefacts of their own. These are most immediately visible around moving objects, such as people. Anyone who breaks into so much as a jog grows a smudgy interpolation shadow. The screen has a reasonably good black level, dependant on the ambient lighting in the viewing room. A 20/20 greyscale grid confirms natural tonality.

However, the darker the viewing room, the greyer the blacks become. Test footage of the Tokyo Tower shot at night takes some adjustment to get a believable combination of night sky, shadow detail, and bright neon highlights. Virtually all edge-lit LED screens have uneven backlighting, but this model fares better than most. How distracting the variations are largely depends on what angle you’re viewing from and what content is playing. Viewed off axis, you might want to prosecute The Dark Knight under the trade descriptions act. Colours also fade rapidly when you pass the 45˚ mark. Sensible room placement is key to maximising this screen’s performance.

Overall, I’d rate the 37LE320 as a reasonable LED choice for a second set, especially as the lack of both an HD tuner and IPTV connectivity guarantee that it won’t stay at its launch price of £700 for long.

HCC VERDICT

Highs: Excellent USB media playback; striking monochrome cabinet; vibrant colour fidelity
Lows: No Freeview HD; no network connection; limited viewing angle
Performance: 3/5
Design: 3/5
Features: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

Specifications

Full HD: yes 1080p24 3D: no
Tuner: yes Freeview (not HD) Component: yes
HDMI: yes three HDMI v1.3 (inc one side connection)
Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 Sound: 20W (2 x 10W)
Brightness (claimed): 450cd/m²
Dynamic Contrast ratio (claimed): Unclaimed
Dimensions (w/o stand): 95(w) x 57(h) x 45(d)cm
Weight (w/o stand): 11kg
Features: Edge LED backlight; 100Hz with Film Mode dejudder; USB for media playback (JPEG, MP3, AVI, MKV, XivD, MOV, MPG compatibility); virtual surround mode; eco setting