For the past several years, Sharp has tried to keep a step ahead of the competition with LCD TVs that boast the largest screen sizes available. At CES this year, that strategy remains intact, as it launches a 2013 TV lineup with nearly 20 models with screens 60 inches or larger, across three big-screen series.
If you've decided that you'd prefer to just cover rather than repaint a wall, you might want to consider the behemoth 90-inch Aquos TV (first shown last summer). Otherwise, there are plenty of choices in the 60-, 70- and 80-inch screen sizes.
In addition to pure size, step-up Sharp TVs have a new look this year, with ultra-thin bezels and brushed aluminum frames, and the four-color Quattron technology—which includes an extra yellow sub-pixel—rolls to more models this year. All three large-screen series (6-series, 7-series, and 8-series Aquos sets) have Sharp's SmartCentral smart TV platform, with dual-core processors, Web browsers, built-in Wi-Fi, and access to online content, including streaming movies and TV shows. This year SmartCentral gets Flash and HTML 5 support, plus Sharp Beam, a free app that lets you "flick" content from a portable Android or iOS device to the TV.
Other SmartCentral features include a dual-screen mode that lets you simultaneously watch TV and browse the Web, and second-screen capability from Netflix that lets you search for shows and movies on your mobile device, then choose to watch it on your TV.
In addition, 11 models this year have 3D, and Sharp's active-shutter glasses this year use Bluetooth rather than IR to sync with the TV.
The company's flagship 8 Series sets will have ultra-slim silver aluminum frames with diamond-cut edges and "floating" stands. Sharp is also looking to improve brightness and contrast with a new technology called Super Bright that monitors the signal and dynamically adjusts the brightness of the bright objects on the screen, without crushing the black levels on other parts of the screen.
While we haven't been especially impressed with the Quattron technology, we'll have to evaluate Super Bright to see if it performs as claimed, and if it differs from the dynamic brightness controls we've seen in other sets.
We'll get a better idea of pricing for these models later at CES. The 6-series sets start shipping in February, and the step-up models start arriving in March and April.
Check out the rest of our CES 2013 coverage.
—James K. Willcox