Sharp 90-inch LED Hits Stores

After cornering the market for LCD TVs above 60-inches diagonal with exclusive 70- and 80-inch models, Sharp has released its first 90-inch LED-backlit LCD HDTV.

As Sharp executives were quick to point out at the product’s launch party in New York City tonight, this is one big TV. Its 1920x1080-pixel, 90-inch diagonal screen measures 6 feet, 8 inches wide by 4 feet tall. That’s said to be equivalent to nearly twice the screen area of a 65-inch television, or three times the area of a 55-inch set. To take it even further, you can squeeze eight 32-inch TVs into its screen, or 56 iPads.

Naturally, big doesn't come cheap: the LC-90LE745U carries a suggested retail price of $10,999.99, and should street at an even $10,000.

While you get a full array LED backlight for that money—one that includes 500 individual LEDs spread across the screen—there is no local dimming as you’ll find in Sharp’s high end Elite-branded LED models. This means that while each LED can be controlled for it’s brightness, small areas of the screen cannot be independently controlled to allow for both the brightest whites and darkest blacks within a single screen image. Nonetheless, Sharp’s Active Contrast technology is said to optimize black levels, along with the UV2A manufacturing process for LCD panels that Sharp introduced a while back.

The LC-90LE745U is a 3DTV that comes with two pairs of active shutter glasses. Other technical features include Sharp’s SmartCentral streaming platform (Netflix, Vudu, Cinema Now, Hulu Plus, YouTube) and what’s said to be a particularly zippy Linux-based web browser compatible with a standard wireless keyboard (not supplied). New IOS and Android apps due out this summer will also provide browser control. There’s built-in WiFi if you can’t make a wired connection to the set. Sharp's AquoMotion 240 motion technology is provided to reduce blur on fast motion for those who don't mind the soap-opera video effect usually associated with these features.

Aesthetically, the LC-90LE745U is just about all screen. There’s a narrow, approximately 1-inch brushed black aluminum bezel that provides a no-glare border all around, and the TV is just 5-inches thick and weighs 141 pounds. Sharp’s first 65-inch LCD introduced several years ago weighed about twice as much. Power consumption is surprisingly low: the set burns 138 watts and is said to use just $28 per year in electricity with 6 hours of daily viewing.

Despite it’s huge size, Sharp executives tried to implode what they described as a myth associated with their 70-inch and larger TVs by showing how close you can sit comfortably to the TV. Viewing areas for the demos were set up at distances of 6-, 7-, and 10 feet. Seven feet seemed about right to this writer’s eye, which kept pixel structure difficult to detect while providing an immersive, cinema-like viewing angle. Sharp had the LC-90LE745U set up alongside its 80-inch model in one area, and it’s hard to fully impart just how large and impactful it was even next to that giant screen.

Assessing image quality was difficult in the context of a press event, but the color seemed natural to my eye (this model does not feature Sharp's Quadpixel technology, which adds a 4th yellow pixel to the usual red, green, and blue primary colors). Contrast was probably what I’d expect to see from any typical non-local-dimming set in subdued but still relatively bright lighting, which makes it hard to assess how well the set will reproduce black in a fully darkend room. Film-based images imparted that soap-opera video look thanks to the motion interpoloation mode being turned on in all the demo units. Home Theater hopes to have a review sample soon we can report on in controlled conditions.

Sharp has indeed offered larger TVs than this before, but not at anything close to the price. "About five years ago, we showed a 108-inch LCD that retailed for $100,000," noted Jim Sanduski, Sharp's VP of strategic product marketing. "Five years later, we have a 90-inch that's selling for one-tenth of that."

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COMMENTS
Animal1984's picture

I would still like to see a review of the current 80". Saw one on display at Best Buy and I have to admit. It didn't look bad at all. It was playing the trailer for "The Avengers".

aleksandr's picture

It doesn't come cheap, but remember in the 2004 a 46 inches SHARP retail price was ten grands...

Scott Wilkinson's picture
I'm amazed that Sharp did not implement local dimming in this $11k flat panel. What a waste!
Jarod's picture

My thoughts exactly. What a waste indeed.

Billy's picture

Why is this not in the new Elite line and with all that goes with it? I saw an Elite 70 incher in a small AV specialty store that I was thrilled with, yet the 80 incher that was not, was nothing special. Of course the 80 incher was far cheaper then the 70 inch Elite, but at 11K, why is this not? The brains that run Sharp must be not getting enough sleep or something.

Rob Sabin's picture
The cost of insituting any kind of truly effective local dimming on a set this large with 500 LEDs in the backlight would likely be prohibitive. You can start with the fact that this is a new next-gen fab line for punching out the panels, and part of the high cost to begin with is the decreased yield in production when you do something this big; instead of creating a good number of panels from a single large piece of glass, you make, I don't know...two? But the processing power required to work all the LEDs on the fly and do it effectively has got to be steep. Who knows -- this screen is so big, that 500 may not even be enought for effective local-dimming. At least they realized that edge-lighting would never work; it could never deliver even reasonably consistent lighting across such a large screen...

As for Elite vs. Aquos, my offhand conversation with some Sharp execs suggests that in the last year, it has been the size story, not the performance story, that has really catapulted them in the market. Elite's a nice little niche and a nice statement, but it's all about the bigscreens now. They started with an exclusive 70-inch set, tentatively, and found they couldn't make them fast enough. Then they did 80 and again found strong demand and more people than they realized who could fit such a TV into their space. With a 90, you're now talking about a projection size image that's suitable for a multipurpose living area/family room/media room with ambient light. All three sizes are now exclusive to Sharp. The fact that it won't deliver the dark blacks of an Elite does not concern them. It does look to be a pretty decent TV at first glance, even without being state-of-the-art in anything but size. But I'll let Tom Norton tell us that when we get one to review.

Steven Norene's picture

I have mixed feeling for this particular TV. I think If I could spend 11K on this tv, I would rather spend the 24K on the new Sony 4K XBR-84x900.

True a great projector and screen is an option, if you have the place and space for one, which I do not.

I wish OLED TV's would hurry up.

Rob's comment about Size and marketing over Performance is very true, and sad. Typical home users care or know little about quality as we do, the followers of this and many other sites. Hence, the rapid unfortunate growth of BEAT headphones, Monster cables, and such...

My opionion.

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