Back in January in Las Vegas at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, while some other TV brands were debuting 3D HDTVs, Sharp instead cause a stir by bowing a series of HDTV flat panels branded Quattron that were equipped with four pixel colors instead of the usual three, adding yellow pixels to go along with the usual red, green and blue elements.
They didn’t exactly curry much favor with a number of reviewers and calibration experts, as the marketing campaign, both at the show and since then, erroneously touts yellow as the fourth primary color, which is of course nonsense, as it’s a secondary color produced by all conventionally-designed TVs by simultaneously energizing the red and green pixel elements. In the printing world however, the roles are reversed, and yellow is indeed considered a primary color, but I would have expected that the marketing mavens at Sharp should know that basic fact.
According to Sharp the goal here is an expanded color gamut, with the ability to produce more vivid greens and yellows. Many modern TVs do in fact offer expanded color gamut options, but do so without resorting to a fourth pixel color. In addition to the fourth pixel color, these upper-end Quattron sets are well equipped with a generous feature set, and they offer a range of models in sizes from 40” up to 68”. Our test sample comes from the middle of that pack, with 120 Hz screen refresh instead of the top-line sets that offer 240 Hz refresh.
The Quattron boasts a svelte cabinet with under 2” of depth, and is equipped with an infinity-style clear and black facia that looks just great. The set comes with a good looking (and hefty) stand that provides a (manual) rotation function.
Consider this HDTV if: you like a bright picture that pops with extra color saturation, as the Sharp indeed fulfills its promise of a richer color palette.
Look elsewhere if: you want a set that provides a color palette that more closely matches that of the Rec. 709 HDTV color gamut specification, and would therefore provide a picture that more closely matches that seen by the content producer at the TV producer or movie studio.
• Overall picture quality (SD): 7
• Overall picture quality (HD): 7
• Features: 8
• Connectivity: 8
• User interface: 8
• Value: 7
In addition to the Quattron four-color pixel system, the set is equipped with 120 Hz screen refresh as well as a fairly full suite of internet apps, which when the set is connected to the home network, provide movie, photo and music streaming, among other services. Sharp has chosen Netflix as the for-fee TV and movie streaming content provider, and the set comes out of the box with some widgets pre-installed for news, sports, finance news, weather and traffic conditions, and a list of other apps that can be downloaded.
That (wired) LAN connection also opens the set up for improved customer service and trouble-shooting, as the TV comes with Sharp’s Aquos Advantage Live system, which when activated by calling in to their service center, quickly allows the set to be taken over remotely by a service rep. This is a fantastic feature, especially for technically-challenged users, as the service rep can not only see important system settings, but also make changes directly to the set with no intervention necessary on the part of the user.
I had tested this feature on an earlier Aquos model, and it worked just fine, allowing the tech to get deep into the advanced picture settings and make necessary changes if the owner inadvertently messed some settings up. By signing up for Sharp’s Advantage service (which is free), the owner also gets priority phone-in privileges and extended customer service hours.
In the video-processing department, the Sharp scores quite highly, and the 120 Hz screen refresh did a great job of smoothing out film-induced judder and sharpening up detail a bit. That feature can be turned off though, as many movie buffs object to the more video-like smoothness that the processing provides. With HD movies and also with special test patterns, the processing produced mostly excellent results. The set’s video processor also provided very good upconversion of standard resolution content, and did an equally good job of de-interlacing 1080i material.
In addition to the wired LAN connection, the set has four HDMI inputs, which should be enough for most users, but there’s only one analog component video connection. There’s also only one composite A/V input, and in order to keep the side panel input area tidy, Sharp drops the typical 3 RCA jack setup in favor of a 3.5mm input that requires a plug/adaptor cable, which curiously wasn’t supplied with the set as an included accessory.