Sharp LC-46DH77E television review

A wind-up radio is eco-friendly. So is a solar-powered charger for a phone. But how about a 46-inch LCD TV that uses a smidgen less electricity than the others, but lights-up your entire living room regardless? Err, no way!

In our opinion it’s trite to tag any electronics device with the word "ecological" unless it’s made from recycled cans (or even better, old CRT TVs!) or otherwise drastically re-designed, and Sharp’s latest humongous LCD TV surely doesn't qualify.

In the green stakes Sharp does have history. It’s been including its Optical Picture Control (OPC) mode on TVs for a few years. Constantly measuring the ambient light in the room, OPC automatically turns down the brightness of the screen to compensate. It’s actually designed to improve the picture, but the end result is a saving in power.

OPC is once again present on the LC-46DH77E, whose green credentials centre around an ECO button on the remote control. It’s not a green button, but instead has a small green elliptical around it: hardly noticeable. Depress it and you get a choice between Standard or Advanced Eco mode, which both reduce power consumption by dimming the screen.

An approach just as eco-friendly would have been to include less packaging with this monster TV - and Sharp could start by building the stand. Packed separately and involving eight screws and a hex key, it’s not the easiest to construct: you’re going to need help.

After being one of the only brands to eschew USB ports on its TVs (the other being Toshiba), the DH77 Series marks the first time Sharp has embraced digital media. The rest of the TV makers have moved on, of course, by including internet connectivity - albeit in rudimentary fashion - but the USB port proves valuable. Able to play JPEG photos and MP3 music, the software used is above average compared to other major brands on the market, though very basic.

Watching the ever-reliable BBC HD channel proves a strange experience. Most immediately noticeable is the depth of scenes from Mad Men; the extra detail lifts the action from the screen, too, creating a truly involving picture. It’s a giddy realism that’s helped by some strong colours and decent contrast.

The only problem is edges. Probably a by-product of the LC-46DH77E’s 100Hz engine, there’s a definite halo around actors and objects as they move, as well as the odd blur.

It’s a problem that’s barely noticeable on Blu-ray, particularly if you set your machine to output in the cinema-speed of 24 frames per second.
As a digital TV the LC-46DH77E is similarly two-faced. Its menu system and EPG interface are excellent; crisply presented, clearly laid out and comprehensive at 15 channels on the screen, it's even possible to search the next 7 days by genre of programme.

TiVo this is not; should the Social/Political Issues/Economics label really be applied to Extreme Fishing With Robson Green? Or even The Abba Years? We think not. That said, the movie, news and sports genres work fine.

Verdict

Also available in 32-inch, 42-inch and 52-inch sizes, the LC-46DH77E makes for a very good value TV despite some imperfections. You won’t find many bells and whistles here, but if you’re after a monster screen to pair with a Blu-ray player there’s few LCD TVs of this size around that give a cinematic treatment to HD sources.