During the past few years we have seen a lot of innovations in the TV market, Full HD, 3D TV, IPTV and a new generation of ultra thin eco friendly screens. But one of the most impressive innovations has come from Sharp – the company that invented LCD TV.
Click to enlarge
Called Quattron, this patented technology which is based on delivering 4 colours to a screen as opposed to the three primary colours that are found in all other TVs.
Currently every TV in the world uses RGB, (a red green and blue spectrum) to deliver over 6.2 variants of colour to a screen. Sharp has gone one step further by introducing Yellow which delivers over 8 million colours to a screen.
I first saw this technology in Japan a few weeks ago but it was not till we got our hands on a new 46″ Sharp TV running the new Quattron technology that we were able to witness firsthand the significant difference that this technology delivers.
In an eight screen comparison that included a top of the range Panasonic Plasma, a budget Panasonic Plasma TV and a Sony Bravia LED TV were we able to see the significant difference that the Quattron technology delivers.
We even ran a previous Sharp model of the same TV side by side in an effort to measure the difference. The first thing you notice about an image delivered to a screen using the four Quattron colours is that skin tones are richer and closer to what a skin colour should be. The use of yellow also delivers stronger blues and a lot more detail in the overall image.
Click to enlarge
If you look at the above picture on the top left, you will the distinct difference that a Quattron TV delivers. The yellow sunset is distinctly yellow. On the bottom left of the image is the old model Sharp Aquos TV and alongside it a new 46-inch Quattron TV the difference is significant. On the far right is the top of the range Panasonic 50″ plasma TV which delivered the best image outside of the Sharp Quattron.
Most televisions in the market use RGB (red, green and blue) to produce different colours, but Sharp who spent four years developing the Quattron technology were convinced that with the development of the right software they could deliver a superior picture experience at a time when most manufacturers are focusing the bulk of their efforts on delivering 3D or IPTV technology.
The 46LE820X that we tested incorporated an X-Gen edge-lit LED panel running at 100Hz. The 100Hz reduces motion blur while delivering advanced optical picture control (OPC). It’s also eco friendly with this TV achieving a rare a 6-star energy rating, because it only consumes 320 kWh per year.
The 46LE820X has four HDMI ports for connecting a Blu ray player, Foxtel box or personal video recorder, it also has a digital optical output, and AV port when using adapter. For people who like to use headphones when watching the TV or listening to music on a digital channels the Sharp Quattron model has a 3.5mm Hi-Fi jack. Apart from the HDMI ports this TV also has a Component port, RS232C, as well as USB and Ethernet for future IPTV connectivity.
Compatible files that can be played back via USB include JPG, MP3, AVI, MKV, ASF, MP4 and MPEG. Despite the availability of an Ethernet port, this LED TV does not offer access to online content such as YouTube, Picasa, and other IP-based content. Instead, the unit is only able to connect to a home server and stream music and photos. Most of the ports are located on the left side, making it easy for users to add or remove cables when mounted to the wall. The touch-sensitive controls (channel, volume, input, menu and power) are located up front, although we prefer using the remote control as pressing the buttons leave fingerprints. The remote is a bit cluttered at the top but is nevertheless easy to use.
Pressing the Menu button reveals a user interface that is displayed right beside the source being watched. From there a user can change the channel or input, change the picture or audio setting, adjust the 100Hz mode or turn HDMI sources on/off while still watching a show or movie.
The ‘Quattron’ technology was able to enhance footage with lots of yellow and gold. It was also able to produce deep blacks and show shadows on the last few scenes of ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’. Picture quality was top-notch, with outdoor shots looking vivid and detailed. The 100Hz technology onboard was able smooth out fast action scenes, although there were times when it displayed haloing around a walking person or fast moving objects.
Considering its slim form factor, the Quattron’s speakers were excellent; they produced good mid sound output and highs but had trouble reproducing low frequencies. The TV has SRS, Dolby, and TruSurround HD with a bass enhancer. However, the TV did struggle when it came to high volume output. If you really want great sound from this TV simply connect it to a good home theatre kit or receiver.
Overall, this is an excellent TV and I suspect that Sharp’s Quattron technology could become a benchmark for future TV display quality.
With a recommended price of $2,699 this TV may appear to be a tad pricey. It’s not because what you get is a quality TV from a company that makes LCD TV’s for the likes of Sony and several other leading brands.
Right now there is a lot of discounting and because of this vendors are starting to use cheap components to produce cheap TV’s. Sharp make their own panels unlike a lot of other TV brands. This places Sharp at the top end of the spectrum when it comes to TV’s that are made from quality components. This and the introduction of their Quattron technology makes this TV a well worth investment.
The weakness with this TV is the lack of an IPTV service, similar to what LG and Samsung are delivering. However, Sharp is working on new content services on their TVs, and I suspect this problem will be eliminated shortly as this TV has Ethernet built-in.