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Review: Sharp THX 4K UHD TV

The Sharp AQUOS 4K Ultra HD LED TV (UD27U line) is one of the best values for a next-generation TV. The UD27U proved capable of impressive picture quality with a bit of coaxing, and its balance of technology and style further strengthens an already good deal.

Style and Setup
Available in 60-inch and 70-inch screen sizes, Sharp's latest 4K UHD TV features a brushed aluminium trimmed frame with a thin bezel design that keeps the focus on all of those lovely pixels. The UD27U's strong and stylish 'scorpion' stand gives the TV a distinct look while providing excellent stability. Standard wall mounting options are available for those that wish to further slim the TV's footprint.

THX or bust

The UD27U line of TVs are THX 4K certified, and the implementation of this thorough suite of tests can be hit or miss for the shipping retail products that I've encountered. In this case, custom calibration provided significant image quality improvements over the TV's THX picture presets. Oddly, the TV's motion resolution enhancement features had little to no effect on the usual HD benchmark tests, but these 'enhancements' are often better left disabled when viewing content originally recorded at 24 frames per second. On a positive note, the UD27U's video processing was good with a variety of HD and 4K UHD video formats.

A Better LED
Sharp expanded the color capabilities of UD27U through the use of an enhanced LED backlight system. The TV's blue LEDs are coated with green and red phosphors that did a great job of expanding the TV's color palette beyond HD to approach the DCI-P3 standard that will be utilized in upcoming 4K UHD content.

Quantum Dot Color

4K Ports

All four HDMI ports on the UD27U accept up to 4K60 video input with 4:2:0 chroma sub-sampling. HDMI 1 adds ARC (audio return channel) support, and HDMI 4 is compatible with sources that require HDCP 2.2 content protection like the Sony FMP-X10 4K Media Player (read my review).

How to Watch 4K

The UD27U's 2.1-channel 35W speaker system ranks among the loudest I've heard, and high-quality audio samples were reproduced with good results. The Sharp's impactful audio was nowhere as impressively rich-sounding as the Sony XBR-X900B 4K UHD TV (read my review) with its gorgeous fixed fluid-magnetic speakers. However, the Sony also costs about twice as much.

Overscan is Evil

Reception of over-the-air (OTA) TV stations was especially impressive in term of number of channels found and the TV's ability to maintain a stable signal lock. The UD27U also showed me every pixel of 720p stations like ABC and FOX unlike most 2014 Samsung televisions like the HU8550 4K UHD TV (read my review) and the H6400 1080p LED TV (read my review).

Cord Cutting Guide

The UD27U smart TV features were barely passing for a modern 4K UHD television - Netflix is the only 4K video streaming option at this time. Sharp had no comment on when or if more options like Amazon Instant Video would be added. A related mobile app provided an attractive enough interface but needs at least one good patch to address remote control and app switching quirks.

Viewing exams
Even without hardware local dimming, the UD27U maintained very good black levels for solid contrast performance in a dark room viewing environment. Maximum light output was a eye-melting 439 nits with the TVs dynamic picture mode making it well-suited for sun-drenched rooms.

TV Picture Setup Guide

Professional Setup
Calibration dramatically improved the picture quality of this TV. My initial impressions of the too-blue THX picture presets when from 'meh' to 'wow' after adjusting the available 2-point white balance controls. The UD27U provides a 10-point white balance setup with its Standard and Movie presets, but inconsistencies with how these controls mapped to corresponding grayscale levels and related interactions made them difficult to use. Thankfully, the 2-point setup proved good enough even though I had to take some settings to maximum to achieve the desired result.


 2015 CES: Home Theater

Favorite Home Theater Gear

A side-effect of performing a white balance calibration on the UD27U was an improvement in overall color accuracy. Average color errors were reduced were reduced to levels considered not noticeable.

Bottom line
Sharp's aggressive pricing for the AQUOS 4K Ultra HD LED TV makes it easier to accept its correctable quirks. For owners willing to have the TV professionally calibrated, they will be rewarded with sublime picture quality with today's HD and tomorrow's 4K UHD video sources. I'm confident in saying the Sharp UD27U line is one good update away from greatness.

Read my full review of the Sharp AQUOS 4K Ultra HD LED TV at HD Guru.

Reader Comments (1)

Such a wonderful review. I was confused and haven't bought any tv yet but your review helped me to take the decision and I am going for Sharp AQUOS 4K Ultra HD LED TV. Well, still I am in a little bit confused as the 8K will be coming along to change things dramatically.

June 8, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHunter Rays

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