When LED backlighting first kicked off a couple of years back the technology was deployed in the same way as a cold cathode backlight -- the LEDs went behind the panel and illuminated the LCD. This had some advantages, such as locally dimming areas that were showing black or dark colours, improving contrast. Recently though, many manufacturers have gone after sidelight technology -- but Sharp is making a stand, believing full LED backlights are the way to go.
Sidelight brings an added dimension -- or lack of dimension we should say, because sidelit TVs are gloriously thin. You know, like a supermodel, but without the painful look of anguished hunger and borderline malnutrition. Sharp says the depth is about the only advantage, and that's why it wants to stick with the full LED backlight. We can see its point too: local dimming is a potentially very good way of getting plasma black levels out of an LCD.
We like Sharp's attitude to LED backlighting too. It's clearly serious about the technology, promising that it will appear in all the 1080p TVs hitting the market this year. We think that makes a good deal of sense, because aside from the obvious environmental benefits of the technology, it's a real performance boost over CCFL backlighting. LED backlights aren't perfect, however, so we look forward to seeing how Sharp has dealt with the halo effects these TVs are notorious for.
Environmental friendliness is key too, with Sharp including a proper off switch as well as a super-efficient standby power consumption of 0.01W. Add that to the LED backlight, which has incredible efficiency, and you've got a TV that should help save trees, bunnies, dogs, cats, fish, monkeys and even possibly meerkats. Humans of course are still doomed: war will see to that.
The LED ranges begin with the LE600, which is available in 32-, 40- and 46-inch screen sizes. The LE700 series has the same sized panels, but adds a 52-inch model and some very attractive blue styling and a glass base. The LE700 also adds 100Hz technology to the line-up too, with the LE600s being strictly 50Hz sets. We don't have exact pricing on all the TVs yet, but the LE600 range starts at around £750, which we don't think is outrageous.
Sharp says the TVs will be available from the end of August. It's also promised that we'll get our clammy hands on one as soon as it can finish bolting all the bits together. For the first time in a while, we're really excited about what Sharp is doing with TVs.