With its 'normal' LCD TVs failing to grab the public's attention as much as Sharp would like, it really needs to fire our imagination with something a little different. Something, in fact, like the LC-46LE700E: a 46in TV that gives you direct LED backlighting without costing an arm and both legs.

This isn't Sharp's first LED model, however, as the manufacturer launched its XS1E series in 2008. But, as those TVs started at £9,000, the £1,600 LC-46LE700E can certainly claim to be Sharp's first affordable LED TV.

Its price looks pretty reasonable by any brand's standards: even price-conscious Samsung's 46in 46B7000 range is £100 or so more expensive. While pretty enough in its glossy black bezel, this 46-incher is nowhere near as slim as Samsung's trend-setting machines.

It has good reason for this: the TV uses direct lighting, where the LED arrays sit right behind the screen, rather than Samsung's edge-based system. Sharp's direct approach enables the LC-46LE700E to offer local dimming, where the arrays of lights behind the screen can be controlled individually.

This allows almost pitch black colours to sit alongside really bright white tones in a way that's not possible with standard single-lamp LCD backlights or edge-lit systems.

If you're wondering how this set can be so much cheaper than Sharp's XS1E models, there are two reasons. First, instead of using RGB dimming, the LC-46LE700 sticks with white – an option that might not deliver so rich a colour range, but which is much cheaper to make.

Second, the LC-46LE700E illuminates its pictures using far fewer separate LED arrays than the XS1E series, reducing the image's localised luminance accuracy.

Specs appeal

Other key specs include four HDMI inputs, a full HD resolution, a USB port able to play JPEG pictures and MP3 audio files, Brilliant Colour processing and, perhaps most important of all, 100Hz processing to keep a lid on judder and motion blur.

Unfortunately, this 100Hz engine isn't strong enough. Pictures are consistently undermined by motion smearing. This is surprising, given how well Sharp's 100Hz standard LCD TVs usually deal with motion, but it's undeniable here – especially when playing video games or watching sport.

Thankfully, this motion blur is pretty much the only negative thing we have to say about the 46LE700E's images – once you've recalibrated them away from the set's bizarrely dreadful picture presets, at least.

Colours, for instance, are phenomenally intense. It shows dark scenes, too, with only the faintest trace of the grey or blue mist that characterises so many standard LCD TVs – including Sharp's.

Hi-def images look extremely sharp and while standard-definition pictures suffer with a couple of over-aggressive colour tones, in general they're rescaled to the screen's full HD resolution quite nicely.

The LC-46LE700E's sound doesn't have the power or dynamic range to give the set's pictures the accompaniment they really deserve. But, despite the 46LE700E's minor imperfections, it enthusiastically illustrates just how potent a technology LED backlighting is.

It should also be enough to get Sharp back on the UK TV map.

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