Sharp LC-32LE210E

Big in microwaves and calculators, few go shopping specifically for a Sharp TV, but they often end-up with one; you’ll find panels from the planet’s biggest LCD manufacturer inside the TVs of a lot of other, bigger brands.

So how does the original square up? Like a lot of Sharp’s budget LED-backlit screens in the last couple of years, the 32LE210E’s picture quality is excellent. In fact it’s one of the best behaved with contrast, producing inky - and believable - black as well as plenty of detail within. Put to work on a Blu-ray disc, the 32LE210E manages to extract and display a lot of information within dark areas of the image, which is unusual for an Edge LED (i.e., LED lights are studded around the TV’s sides) set such as this - though it’s no quite up to the standard of a decent plasma. In this department, the 32LE210E is helped, no doubt, by its relatively small size.

There’s also an excellent boldness to colours, though neither that nor its skill with black is immediately obvious; the pre-calibrated levels for both brightness and colour are some way off the mark out of the box, so take some time to fine-tune it to your preferences. Even after the screen had been calibrated, we observed a slight softness to Blu-ray playback as well as a touch of blur (so even more loss of detail) when objects rush across the screen.

If the 32LE210E would really benefit from a 100Hz mode, it could also do with another major update to bring it into contention - a Freeview HD tuner. Bereft of one here, this 32-inch TV does seem a tad outdated, though it’s seemingly got some catching up to do anyway; standard definition pictures on the 32LE210E often appear drab and somewhat dirty.

That’s a shame because for all of the minus points immediately obvious about this Sharp LED-backlit TV, it does have one feature that other sets lack, and that’s built-in recording. Well, kind of built-in; you’ll need to shove in a USB stick. Sets further up Sharp’s Aquos line-up do indeed have integrated memory banks to store such recordings, but on this budget set it’s a completely DIY affair. It’s not just recording; this novel TimeShift function allows you to rewind and pause live TV as well as make copies of TV programmes, though only for a few minutes - most of your USB stick will be used to make recordings. Incidentally, recordings are stored as BUK files - good luck finding somewhere to play those back on anywhere but this TV.

Count on around 25 minutes of SD recordings per gigabyte of storage used, and half that for HD. Using that maths, a 4GB USB stick will provide around 100 minutes of SD and 50 minutes of HD, but bear in mind that the 32LE210E will set-aside 500MB-or-thereabouts for pausing and rewinding. Actually using the interface to set recordings straight from the 8-day electronic programme guide is child’s play, though its limited talents make this an emergency feature that will only really come into its own if you have to suddenly leave the house but don’t want to miss the end of a programme.

This media-savvy feature appears to be a characteristic of the 32LE210E, for the next feature to catch our eye is DivX HD playback. The list of files its USB slot will playback is too numerous to list, but includes the likes of DivX, MOV and AVC HD video files, as well as WAV and AAC music. Playback is stable and DivX HD looks impressively smooth, though the interface for controlling digital music needs some polishing. No matter; the speakers on the bottom of the 32LE210E are similarly basic.

Verdict

Decent, if hardly reference-level, picture quality from a Edge LED-backlit screen meets useful USB recording, though we feel this 32-incher’s lack of an integrated Freeview HD tuner might hamper its progress - and it could also do with some 100Hz scanning.

 



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