It's no secret why you're here; the lure of an 80-inch flat-panel television is too great for anyone to resist. Being the first one on the market, the Sharp LC-80LE632U is bound to attract a lot of attention, and despite some of its more obvious flaws, I think that it's a size I want to see more of. Building a television this size is an expensive undertaking, and you're inevitably paying a premium to be one of the first.
The downside is its less than impressive picture quality, namely poor black levels and inaccurate colors. The 80-inch LC-80LE632U is actually the same (high!) price as the 60-inch Sharp Elite PRO-60X5FD, which delivers a better picture in nearly every way. But even given the barrow full of gold you'll need to purchase this monster, and some of its foibles, the sheer size of the LC-80LE632U cannot help but blow many viewers away.
Editors' Note June 12, 2012: The rating on this review has been modified from 6 to 5.9 to reflect changes in the competitive marketplace since the initial publication.
Series information: Sharp offers other TVs that also have a 632U model name, namely the 70-inch LC-70LE632U and the 60-inch LC-60LE632U, but they're different enough from the 80-inch model that this review does not apply to them.
The size of this TV will have your mouth agape from your first moments of trying to pull it out of the box. According to Sharp, the LC-80LE632 is the "largest LED TV in America," and if you want to go bigger in a flat panel, you're going to have to get a commercial screen like the 103-inch Panasonic TH-103PF12U (and pay up to 20 times more). At 132 pounds, the Sharp is one of the heaviest TVs this side of a CRT, and you'll definitely need a friend to help you lift it.
The design is pure Sharp, with the triangular power light the company debuted in 2010. 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. Thankfully, they chose not to, and the TV looks stylish for it.
The remote control is a little busy with quite a few buttons, and the position of the Net Aquos button to the left of the thumbpad (where Exit usually is) is annoying as it means if you accidentally hit it you'll have to wait for the "smart" interface to load instead of exiting.
|Key TV features|
|Display technology||LCD||LED backlight||Full-array without local dimming|
|Smart TV||Yes||Internet connection||Built-in Wi-Fi|
|3D technology||N/A||3D glasses included||N/A|
|Refresh rate(s)||120Hz||Dejudder (smooth) processing||Yes|
|Other: Aquos Advantage Live Internet-connected live help and troubleshooting, onscreen manual, IP control|
Let's face it, the only feature this Sharp needs is size. Everything else is secondary.
Sharp has chosen to eliminate one key feature though: 3D compatibility. And for a TV of this price that's pretty unusual. But then again, you could argue that's what Imax is for. If you really want 3D in your 80-incher, Sharp just started shipping the LC-80LE544U; both it and the 632U reviewed here will remain in the company's lineup throughout 2012.
Although 4K resolution might show some benefits at this size, Sharp stuck with mere 1080p resolution. The full-array LED backlight means the screen is illuminated from the rear and not the side. Unlike full-array sets such as the Elite, however, the 632U doesn't offer local dimming.
Other features are up there with what you'd expect from a midrange television. Smart TV is accounted for, as is a Web browser, but navigating a Web page with a remote is something most people won't want to do unless both their laptop and phones have conked out. Built-in Wi-Fi is nice to have.
A couple of other extras are unique to Sharp. IP control is designed to interface with custom installation remote control systems, such as Control 4, AMX, and Crestron, that can operate over Ethernet as opposed to the RS-232 standard. Aquos Advantage Live is Sharp's excellent live help feature. I appreciated the full onscreen manual--a carbon copy of the PDF version, complete with table of contents.
Smart TV: From Vizio to Google to Sharp, small pop-up Smart TV menus are de rigueur at the moment and it makes a lot of sense. Who wants to wait while their TV's operating system loads when they just want to jump into Netflix anyway? The pop-up sticks up a little bit further than a ticker bar, and is easily navigated using the left and right keys. In addition to Netflix, users also gain access to CinemaNow and Vudu, but miss out on Hulu Plus and Amazon. Check out the full list of included apps here.
Picture settings: The TV offers plenty of different modes, but none of them are entirely lifelike--even the movie mode. Gamers may like the Vyper Drive system behind the Game mode, which is designed to reduce input lag. The settings menu is well-laid-out and easy to access without multiple submenus *cough Google TV cough*.
The TV offers a number of tweaks in its advanced CMS and Color Temp menus, but as we note below, in our experience it isn't possible to correct its red tones.