As well as being late to market with its 3D TVs, Sharp has also been one of the relatively few brands to swerve the idea of a connected TV portal. While its contemporaries have launched into the murky world of content deals, Sharp – along with Philips and Loewe – have chosen to rent a third-party smart TV interface to put its logo on.
To be fair, Sharp's use of Net TV is re-branded slightly, but the resulting Aquos Net+ isn't a patch on similar services from Sony, Samsung or Panasonic.
Its biggest problem is the lack of BBC iPlayer. Instead of genuinely engaging services we get Twitter, Cartoon Network VOD, TomTom, cinetrailer, Funspot, Daily Motion, YouTube and iConcerts (of niche appeal, but this archive live music service is actually rather great), as well as an open web browser.
Not capable of playing Flash-based video, this browser is rudimentary in the extreme, and works only very slowly. Sharp promises that Skype video calling will soon appear on Aquos Net+, although a Skype Freetalk talk7190 camera will need to be bought separately. There's no sign of it yet.
On pure picture quality, the LC-40LE831E is a serious screen. As well as a Full HD resolution – now utterly standard at this size – and that must-have Freeview HD tuner, this 40-inch telly sports Edge LED backlighting.
It's a shame that Sharp has got rid of its high-end Full or Direct LED backlit LCD TVs, but we suppose these were considered too fat for the flatscreen TV market at present.
We've seen that Edge LED (where light is fired across the back of the panel from the sides, instead of from clusters behind the panel) works wonders on some brands' sets if – and it's a big if – an uneven brightness, and light leakage, can be avoided.
Brilliant Colour processing is Sharp's name for what its Quattron technology does to colour (improve it, naturally!) while the LC-40LE831E is fitted with a 200Hz mode that combines 100Hz with backlight scanning.
Its suite of TV circuitry assured, the LC-40LE831E adds another dollop of versatility with a clutch of ins and outs.
Since the set is so slim, the connections are somewhat shoe-horned into a side panel on the rear, although Sharp hasn't made the mistake that other TV brands have in supplying a nest of proprietary shrunken adaptors.
Three USB ports are plenty; one is provided on the side panel, so is easy accessible for inserting a USB stick, even if the TV is mounted on a wall. The other two are strung across the bottom; one is meant for hooking up an external USB HDD, while the other is for inserting a Wi-Fi dongle that, surprisingly, is provided in the box.
The Sharp LC-40LE831ED TV also indulges in DLNA networking from a PC, but for those who'd rather have a sturdy connection, wired Ethernet LAN is also possible.
That easy-to-reach panel also houses a Common Interface slot, headphone jack and – most unusually for TVs not made by Panasonic – an SD card slot, although in practice it's only for temporary AquosNet+ VOD downloads.
Other connections include four HDMI inputs – all easy for wall mounters to tinker with – a lone Scart, component video, composite and a PC input. There are also some analogue phonos ins and an optical digital audio output.
If that makes the Sharp LC-40LE831E a possible home cinema centrepiece, the inclusion of a RS-232 port take things a step further by enabling the TV screen to be controlled by a home automation/control system from the likes of Creston or AMX. A high-end option, for sure, but a welcome one.
The LC-40LE831E also has eco-friendly ambitions that, not surprisingly, are born from that Quattron tech. Because the extra yellow pixel is lighter than the existing RGB array in each pixel, Sharp claims that more light is let through – so this panel can reach the same level of brightness while using less power. Now that's the kind of accidental innovation we like.
Seems good value? Well, say that after this rocket: this 3D TV doesn't come with any 3D glasses, with Sharp's AN3DG20B rechargeable 3D glasses available separately for £69 each.