A Review of the Sharp LC-50UB30U 4K Ultra HD 60Hz Smart LED TV – LC-43UB30U, LC-55UB30U, LC-65UB30U,
The UB30U 4K TV line from Sharp is one of the most affordable that the manufacturer has produced this year and as such it doesn’t have quite the same features as the somewhat pricier UE30 series or some other Sharp TVs. However, the UB30U does include some nice upgrades over last year’s 4K models from Sharp and as a whole is a remarkably affordable home entertainment option for buyers who are looking to get started with 4K without spending a large amount on their first set.
Primarily, the UB30U comes with improvements such as an Android TV platform, better backlit local dimming and, most importantly, a glass display panel surface for a considerably richer, deeper picture, instead of last year’s plexi-glass.
This TV is certainly not going to be the winner of any “Year’s Best 4K” awards but on the whole, what you get with the LC-50UB30U is still a package that includes some quality features like solid contrast and black levels, an excellent upscaling engine and very decent color saturation. Basically, this is the Sharp competition to Vizio’s P-Series TVs although it doesn’t quite match some Vizio innovations.
As we’ve already said, the UB30U is Sharp’s entry-level answer to the 4K TV models the company sells and the 50 inch TV model we’re reviewing here is in our opinion the minimally decent-sized model of 4K TV for more economical home entertainment system in this line (or any other for that matter). Thus, what you’re getting with this TV offers the solid essentials without veering into the territory of premium display features.
With that said, the LC50UB30U has plenty going for it in terms of solid features. Connectivity in the TV is about as solid as it gets, with all the crucial HDMI 2.0 ports, USB connections and HEVC/VP9 4K content decoding capability. On top of this, the TV offers access to a wide array of media apps and of course also features the ability to stream the latest 4K video from Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video and YouTube. It won’t give you access to Amazon’s newest and best 4K HDR content since this is definitely not an HDR-enabled TV but you’ll still get the normal 4K content that the streaming video provider offers.
Furthermore, for all your HD and even SD content viewing needs, the LC-50UB30U has you covered nicely thanks to Sharp’s excellent upscaling engine, which really does a solid job of turning lower resolutions into something that looks sharper and deeper. Blu-ray HD content in particular will scale up beautifully on this TV and can even be said to look better than native 4K streamed content from a compressed streaming source like Netflix.
Furthermore, the quality of the edge-lit LED array in the LC-55UB30U is very good, definitely better than what we’d seen in last year’s models from the same company. No, edge-lit arrays aren’t nearly as bright, flexible and uniform as their full-array counterparts but Sharp has done a good job with this technology within the limitations it imposes and Sharp’s LC-55UB30U delivers enough to satisfy a basic level of backlight quality, especially in comparison to the way the edge-lit backlighting looked in 2014 Sharp TVs with plexi-glass displays.
Color saturation is not half bad in this TV. If you want even more interesting levels of color and vibrancy, you’re better off going for one of Samsung’s entry level 4K TVs for 2015, such as the Samsung JU700 series but this Sharp TV does deliver deeper color over its own older cousins by the same manufacturer.
Finally, in terms of price, this 50 inch model we’re reviewing here is almost unbeatable. Only Vizio’s 4K TVs cost this much with the same screen size and the same select connectivity specs.
3.5 - 102 Reviews
On the other hand, there’s also a lot working against the LC-55UB30U which makes it a TV you’d definitely have to think carefully about buying. Most importantly of all, it offers limited levels of specs and quality for its price when compared to more than a few other models on the market right now.
For one thing, Some of Samsung and Sony’s 2015 entry level 4K TVs in this same size category do cost somewhat more but they also offer enough improvement in backlighting, color and contrast to be worth their slightly higher prices. And then there are Vizio’s P-Series and M-Series TVs., the most direct and intense competitors to this specific Sharp model. Why? Because these two TV lines from Vizio sell for roughly the same price as the LC-55UB30U while offering the much more powerful technology of full-array LED backlighting. Furthermore, the 60Hz refresh rate and crappy side-angle viewing clarity of the UB30U series of TVs also works against it in comparison to other models that sell at similarly economical prices.
Then there’s the fact that the LC-50UB30U and the entire UB30U series of TVs has to make to without Sharp’s new Android TV based operating system for 4K televisions. Instead, what you get with this model is the older and slightly slower Smart Central 3.0 smart TV platform. It’s a decent smart TV system but nowhere near as effective and smooth to use as the newer Android TV Smart TV menu of higher end Sharp 4K TV models.
Finally and most damning against the LC-50UB30U is its lack of full-array LED backlighting. This is the single near deal-breaker deficiency in this TV and this is because for nearly the same price, Vizio is right there with its P and M-Series 4K TVs, which offer almost all of the same specs as the Sharp UB30U but with full-array LED backlighting to spice things up.
In the final count, the Sharp LC-55UB30U is a solid entry level TV with some very decent specific features at a very good price. However, if you’re going to aim for a 4K TV in this price range, you might want to think about Vizio’s 4K TV models. They are likely the better option here.
Weight: 33.08 lbs wo stand/ 35.28 lbs with stand
Dimensions: (WxHxD): 69.1" x 42.6" x 14.1" inches with stand/ 44.37” x 25.83” x 2.83” inches without stand
Screen size: 43 inch - LC-43UB30U, 50 inch - LC-55UB30U, 55 inch - LC-55UB30U and 65 inch - LC-65UB30U.
Smart TV: Yes, Smart Central 3.0 smart TV platform
HEVC (H.265) Included: Yes
HD to UHD upscaling: Yes
HDCP 2.2 Compliance: Yes (all 4 HDMI ports)
Refresh Rate: 60Hz
Screen Lighting: edge-lit LED backlighting
Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels UHD
Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes WiFi, Ethernet port
Remotes: Standard button remote
Connectivity: 4 x HDMI 2.0 ports, 2 x USB 3.0, Ethernet, MHL, Component/Composite, Digital Audio out
Dynamic Contrast Ratio: over 1 million
Audio: 10W x 2 Sharp HT-SB30D 2.0 Channel Bottom firing speaker setup
Processor: Quad Core
Highlights are a bit sparse on the entry-level LC-43UB30U TV. However, it does offer a complete package of all the needed features for a solid 4K UHD TV home entertainment system with full access to 4K content from across the available spectrum of options (at least for now, though there is already HDR 2nd generation 4K content emerging that’s off limits to this model).
However, what you do get is very good display quality, excellent connectivity and a well-designed TV that looks good. Thus, let’s cover some of these.
First of all, the content access is definitely there with this TV. The LC-43UB30U offers a number of the best 4K content and general media apps built into it right out of the box. There’s Netflix with one of the largest streaming libraries of 4K premium video on the internet today. Furthermore, you can also watch Amazon Prime Instant Video movies and shows on the TV without a problem. On top of these two, you’ve got access to YouTube’s decent and growing library of 4K documentaries and video clips to work with and because the TV comes with several HDMI 2.0 ports with HDCP 2.2 and HEVC/VP9 decoding capacity integrated into them, it’s capable of 4K video playback at a solid and smooth 60 frames per second from all sorts of third party media devices like set-top boxes, game consoles (whenever 4K loaded game consoles start to emerge) and even 4K Blu-ray players as they come out later in 2015.
Furthermore, through the HDMI 2.0 ports, you can even enjoy PC gaming at 4K resolutions if you have a 4K PC with an ultra HD-capable Nvidia GPU built into it since these graphics cards have HDMI 2.0 connectivity. This of course means that you can enjoy the power of 4K PC gameplay on a TV screen that’s much larger than any conventional 4K monitor.
The display of the LC-43UB30U is certainly not top-tier but it still offers the core essentials of a solid 4K viewing experience. The contrast on the LC-43UB30U is decent and color saturation is more than good enough to work for most users who haven’t been spoiled by truly premium UHD TVs like the Samsung SUHD UN48JS8500 models, Sony’s top-shelf 2015 Bravia TVs such as the X850C or LG’s ultra-premium OLED 4K TVs such as the EG9600. In other words, if you’re just starting out with 4K TV, the LC-43UB30U will not disappoint you with what it creates on its screen. In fact, thanks to its upscaling engine for SD and HD content, this model will likely deliver a viewing experience superior to that of most HD TVs you’ve ever seen or owned.
Finally, there is a neat wallpaper mode built into the TV so that it displays a selection of 4K ultra HD images of your choice (including personal high resolution photos) when it’s not being used, sort of like a large piece of digital display art. Of course, you can also shut this feature off if you don’t feel like using the extra power.
3.5 - 102 Reviews
The strongest visual spec of the LC-65UB30U would definitely have to be the local dimming technology that Sharp packed into this TV. This is part of the reason why the model is also so thick in comparison to some other 4K TVs in its price range and furthermore, this local dimming is often not available in other entry-level UHD sets at this price range. What local dimming does is adjust the brightness of specific LEDs along the edge of the screen for the sake of enhancing contrast by making darker parts of the screen genuinely look darker.
The overall effect is one of better dynamic range and more realistic picture quality. In the LC-65UB30U, the local dimming works remarkably well and manages to avoid leaving your darker images with a washed out look. In fact, when laid next to other 4K models of similar size but without this local dimming, the LC-65UB30U delivers a level of contrast that you’ll notice instantly for its superior quality.
Then we should also mention the “Revelation Upscaler”, which is Sharp’s upscaling engine in this TV. It really delivers the goods well in its job scales up HD content to near-4K clarity with remarkable sharpness. The upscaling engine can even manage a decent job with SD content and manages to scale it on the screen without creating too much of the blur that’s common when this low resolution gets spread across a 4K TV screen.
The edge lighting of the UB30U is one of its weaker points and is especially annoying when you consider that Vizio offers their own 4K TV models at nearly identical prices but with the brilliance and flexibility of full-array LED backlighting built into them. Furthermore, this same edge-lit LED display partly ruins the off-angle viewing quality on the LC-65UB30U. At angles of more than a couple dozen degrees off center, the screen loses a lot of its contrast and vibrancy. On the other hand, light uniformity across the screen in the UB30U is even and overall brightness in the onscreen content is definitely a strong point in the TV, even if it’s nowhere near as good as what you’d find in an entry level Samsung SUHD TV like the JS7000, which cost roughly $600 more than the LC-65UB30U.
Finally, the 60Hz refresh rate of the TV is a bit slow and might create some motion blur in fast action movie or PC gaming sequences. However, the end result is not something most viewers should be bothered by unless they’ve first grown accustomed to seeing the much sharper content rendering of premium 4K TV models.
In the Sharp LC50UB30U, you get the complete package of necessary specs for access to all the content you’d need and to full web browsing capability. There are four HDMI 2.0 ports on the TV and they all include HDCP 2.2 content copy protection along with built-in HEVC/VP9 content compression decoding. This means that you can essentially view any normal 4K movies and other content from just about any streaming provider and media player on the market except for those that haven’t been made compatible with Sharp TVs for non-connectivity related reasons.
In simple terms, the LC55UB30U offers the same level of connectivity as even the best premium 4K TVs and only restricts you from access to the second generation of 4K content with augmented high dynamic range that’s now coming out, but this is only because this TV isn’t HDR capable.
Web browsing works fully through the Smart Central 3.0 smart TV platform on the TV and lets you check your email, social media and other websites just like you might on a PC or laptop.
The Sharp LC5-0UB30U is priced very attractively at $597.99 on Amazon.com right now. This puts it in an absolutely excellent entry level pricing bracket. The 43 inch LC-43UB30U is selling for $499.99, the 55 inch LC-55UB30U for $819.99 and the 65 inch - LC-65UB30U for $1,447.72.
3.5 - 102 Reviews
To summarize briefly: The Sharp LC55UB30U is not a premium 4K TV. It’s a bare bones entry level model with just a couple of higher-end features. This doesn’t make it a bad TV by any means but it does mean that display specs aren’t as good what’s offered with higher priced Sharp 4K models. The LC43UB30U could have used a full-array LED backlight and it’s a shame that Sharp didn’t include their newer, more advanced Android TV smart platform in this model, instead opting for the slower, clumsier Smart Central 3.0.
• Remarkably good contrast
• Local dimming included
• Superb price
• Excellent upscaling of HD content
• No full-array LED backlighting
• Off-angle viewing sucks
• Brightness could use improvement