Sharp is hawking sub-$2000 70-inch LCDs for the big game, and in 2012, its TV lineup will only get bigger and, I'll wager, more affordable.
Last year Sharp switched marketing gears from Quattron's wacky yellow pixel (have a nice day, lab-coated Takei) to a new focus on the "meganormous" (howdy, fat-head dudes). Its lineup emphasized models 60 inches and larger, including 70-inchers from both ends of the price spectrum and the first "affordable" 80-incher.
At CES 2012 Sharp tautologically claimed to be "the No. 1 market share leader in the large-screen television market" when it announced the release of more than 20 new super-60-sized TVs. The chart below contains the models Sharp actually detailed. We covered them extensively in blog form, but blogs take forever to read, so here's a nifty table.
You won't find these TVs described on Sharp's Web site yet. The company, like its competitors, holds back its Web site updates until the 2012 models start shipping.
Anyway, here's the table. Scroll lower in the post for more detail and click through to the series links for even more, including in-depth blog posts.
- "MAP Price" stands for Minimum Advertised Price, meaning the price most merchants will advertise when the product launches. It's usually a couple hundred less than Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP).
- I count seven total TVs of 60 inches or more in the chart above, leaving 13-odd unannounced if Sharp's "more than 20 new" claim is accurate. Last year Sharp released lots of additional TVs with small feature permutations throughout the year, and I expect the unannounced 2012 models to follow suit.
- The company mentioned another 80-incher, the LC-80LE645U, to me in pre-CES discussions but I was told it would not be announced at the show. For now the company will just stick with the current 2D-only 80-incher and add a 3D version in April.
- An entry of "X" or a brief description (e.g., "brushed aluminum") means the TV has the feature. A blank entry means it does not. An entry of "TBD" means I don't know yet.
- Unlike LG, Samsung, Sony, and Vizio, Sharp doesn't offer local dimming in any of its edge-lit LEDs. Aside from the Elite models, the full-array 945 series is its only local dimmer. Check out my LED backlight explainer if any of this terminology throws you.
- In my past tests, Quattron's extra yellow pixel hasn't had a positive impact on picture quality, and any negative impact on color accuracy I could discern was possible to remove in calibration. See the 2011 LC-830U series review for more details.
- Here's a refresher on passive vs. active 3D. I was told that "Sharp intends to include 2 pairs of glasses with all 3D TVs, either as a promotional 'bundle' or actually included inside the carton." Personally I'd prefer the company simply commit to including them in the carton, like Samsung did this year, if only to avoid these kinds of issues.
- The 2011 version of Sharp's Smart TV suite was one of our least favorite. See our 844U writeup for more on 2012's improvements; Aquos Advantage Live is not included on the 540U series.
- I don't list refresh rate because frankly, I don't think it matters. The same goes for numerous other specs you won't find on these tables.
- Sharp didn't announce any additional Elite models at CES. I expect the 2012 Elites to be announced this summer.
- Here's a link to select additional official specs from a CES 2012 fact sheet (yes, including refresh rate sigh). I don't have any more info than this yet.
- Jan 30th: Per Sharp, added pricing and corrected release dates for most series. Also updated note #7 regarding 3D glasses.
- Feb 2nd: Modified the last note to link to select specs.
- Feb 13th: Updated to leaked MAP pricing for most models per HDGuru.com, edited first note accordingly.
- March 2: Removed LC-945U series, a high-end local dimming model, from the chart per a conversation with Sharp. Company reps told me only that its status, and indeed its model name and prospective features (eg local dimming), and now uncertain, but they wouldn't say more.