Sharp Aquos LC-60LE636E review

Usability

As with so many TV operating systems these days, the Sharp Aquos LC-60LE636E's is a classic mixed bag.

Kicking off with the remote control, it looks fine in a hardcore tech kind of way, with its slender build, glossy black finish and shiny silver trim down each side. But its slenderness means that many of its buttons are tiny - indeed, you almost need a magnifying glass to see some of them.

Couple the smallness of many of the buttons with the fact that most of them are very crowded together, and you've hardly got a recipe for an easy user experience. Especially if you're trying to use the remote in any sort of darkened environment (there's no backlight).

There doesn't seem to be any great logic to the layout of the remote's buttons, either. Even after using it for a week we weren't getting a feel for where all the most useful buttons were.

In some ways the Sharp Aquos LC-60LE636E's on-screen menus are better. Or at least they're relatively clever. In a bid to enable you to keep watching TV while you use them, the menus are organised around a double-axis system that spreads across and down from the top-right corner, with a slightly smaller version of the picture playing in the bottom-left without any menu content appearing over it.

Sharp Aquos LC-60LE636E review

This system is especially helpful when you want to channel browse while still being able to see and hear the show you're watching.

While there is a full-screen EPG if you want to use it, you can also access the guide from the main cross-bar menu, with scrollable listings appearing down the side, and a nifty little ticker coming up under the picture telling you more about the TV programme being shown.

While it's easy to appreciate and even applaud the thought behind the picture-preserving menu design, though, it also creates a few problems. The most obvious one being that the space available for you to work with in the right-hand column is limited, leading to some unhelpful text abbreviations and a slightly confusing look and layout.

As with the double-axis menu system on Sony's recent TVs, you have to scroll along the top menus a bit more than you might like to get to some useful features. But to be fair, Sharp does seem to have put a bit more thought into putting the most useful menus first than Sony has.

Overall, the Sharp Aquos LC-60LE636E's menus look and feel quite cutting edge in some ways, but we wouldn't be surprised to see the brand adopt a more graphical style for its menus in the future, following the sort of Smart Hub trend started by Samsung and LG.

Sound

While there's a good chance that a screen as big as the Sharp Aquos LC-60LE636E will be used with a separate audio system, the sound produced by the set's internal speakers is surprisingly good.

Sharp Aquos LC-60LE636E review

The soundstage is large enough to do at least some justice to the scale of the pictures, and the dynamic range is surprisingly expansive, delivering clear trebles at one end of the scale and at least a hint of bass, too.

Pleasingly, the soundstage is potent enough to open up when a movie soundtrack shifts up a few gears, and nor does it tend to sound too harsh or thin during action scenes, even at loud volumes.

All in all, then, the Sharp Aquos LC-60LE636E puts in a pretty good effort.

Value

For the majority of your viewing time, if you've bought a Sharp Aquos LC-60LE636E you'll probably be sat there watching it smugly, thinking that you've bagged yourself the greatest AV bargain ever.

With HD sources in particular, the TV exceeds budget expectations in almost every way, from black level response through to colour vibrancy and sharpness.

However, if you're a movie fan who regularly likes to dim the lights for a serious film-viewing session, you'll almost certainly become aware during dark scenes of some fairly distracting backlight consistency problems.

And we can readily imagine many such movie fans feeling more than a little annoyed by this problem.