First Review: Sharp LED TV With Integrated Blu-ray

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We have all seen TVs with built-in DVD players before but the LC-40LB700X is the first ever Blu-ray enabled LCD TV. Not only that, but it also uses LED backlights as well; utilising the best image quality available while combining it with the best film format on the home entertainment market.

It seems almost inevitable that these two technologies would eventually be married and, for the most part, this is an impressive unit.  However, it isn’t perfect and its shortcomings are directly related to the Blu-ray player which, while convenient, isn’t on-par with many of the players out there.

The most glaring issue that users will notice is the load times.  When Blu-ray players were first introduced, the load times were long when starting up a disc.  Since then, this problem has been largely eliminated but the player in this television still suffers from it.  Starting a disc can take up to 2 minutes to bring up the menu screen.  Some are shorter though, it is disc dependant, but even the shorter load times took upward of 60 seconds.  We tested it with many films to see the differences in load times.  We also noticed that the drive is particularly loud when loading.  It isn’t a problem during playback though.

Using the player is also a little sluggish at times when compared with other Blu-ray devices we have tested.  However, the image quality and feature set of the player are excellent and the player is profile 2.0 compatible.  The television has no internal storage for downloaded BD-Live content so you will need to use a USB drive (Minimum 2GB) to take advantage of this feature.  The television has a LAN port to hook it up to your network but no WiFi.

The image quality of the panel is top notch.  We tested with the integrated Blu-ray as well as an external Blu-ray device and the difference was negligible.  We used a wide variety of films to test how well the television handled colour, contrast and motion and also used the Spears and Munsil professional test disc.  The results were impressive although we did have to turn off some of the eco-features, turn down the sharpness level and increase the backlight brightness to achieve the best image quality.  The unit handled colour exceptionally as shown in the film “Speed Racer”.  There were no overblown hues although we did turn the colour down just a little from the default setting.  The contrast was a mixed bag at first until we turned off some of the Eco-features (which we will go into a little later) but once optimal settings were achieved there was no detail loss in the darker scenes of “The Dark Knight”. 

 

This unit doesn’t have any 200Hz options as such but calls their motion control “film” modes.  These modes can be set to one of three settings from High to Low or can be turned off altogether.  At the highest setting the motion was smooth but it removed too much motion blur making the images look a little fake.  However, at the lowest setting the motion was excellent. There was still a little judder but it wasn’t distracting.  What setting you choose to use is subject to personal preference but it is good to see the option available to make that choice.

The LC-40LB700X achieves a six star energy rating thanks to its various ECO features. One of the most obvious is the backlight control which dims the backlights when the maximum setting is not needed.  In addition to lower power consumption this also increases the life of the backlights too. However, the dimming is noticeable and somewhat distracting so we tended to have it permanently disabled during testing. There are also ECO features designed for the Blu-ray player which turn the drive off completely when not in use and other ECO features like automatic shutdown when the TV has been inactive for a certain period of time.

The integrated speakers do a goos job but aren’t particularly noteworthy. They can achieve high volume without any distortion but tend to feel a little flat and lacking in bass. The unit comes with a good number of audio options which can be enabled to improve the sound quality but naturally a home theatre system would be a better option.  That being said, the speakers are more than acceptable.

The connection options include three HDMI ports as well as two Component connections.  The Component can also be used for Composite as there is an additional Composite connection on the side of the unit.  There is also an S-Video connection as well.  PC input is handled by the standard D-Sub connector with a 3.5mm headphone jack for PC audio.  The unit also has optical audio passthrough which also allows the integrated Blu-ray player to output sound to a home theatre system.  There is also an Ethernet port to allow use of the BD-Live features but there is no DLNA network streaming or web widgets like the Samsung LED TV offerings.

 



The aesthetics of the unit are quite attractive, although it is much thicker than other LED TVs on the market.  That may be due to the integrated Blu-ray player though so this isn’t a bad thing at all.  The stand needs to be bolted on to the unit but it isn’t laborious to do so.

When it comes to image quality, this TV certainly competes brilliantly with other LED TVs available.  However, its appeal comes mainly from the integrated Blu-ray player which is able to play back Blu-ray films and upscale DVDs quite well.  The only complaint we have about this unit is the load times which need a lot of improvement.  Whether this can be done with a simple firmware update or if we have to wait for the next model to get faster load times remains to be seen.

 The LC-40LB700X is available now and retails for $3299


 

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