Ultra-high-definition (UHD, or 4K) is the natural progression of HDTV technology. The only problem is that there still isn’t much 4K content out there, so even if you get a 4K HDTV, the majority of what you’d watch on it will be 1080p. That’s the case with the $3,199.99 60-inch LC-60UD27U we tested, which fortunately has a good upscaler for converting HD content. Less-than-ideal off-angle viewing and so-so black levels and contrast ratios hold it back, though. Still, it’s a good price for a 4K TV, especially if you can find it at a reduced price, but there are better 1080p screens out there for less.
The LC-60UD27U is framed by quarter-inch, smooth, black plastic bezels, which are bordered on the edges by an aluminum strip, along with a slim aluminum protrusion containing the Sharp logo and remote sensor on the bottom bezel. The screen is supported by two pointed, semi-circular legs on either end, which means you’ll need to make sure the surface on which you’ll place it is wide enough.
You get a generous array of inputs. On the back and facing left, there are four HDMI ports, a USB port, a 3.5mm audio out, and a SD/SDHC card slot. VGA and component/composite inputs face outward from the back, and two additional USB ports, an Ethernet port, an optical audio output, a 3.5mm audio input, and an antenna/cable connector face down. Finally, physical controls sit on the bottom left corner, and include Power, Menu, Input, Channel Up/Down, and Volume Up/Down buttons.
Remote and SmartCentral 3.0
The wand-style, black plastic remote is a long and skinny 9.5 inches. The mostly square, rubber buttons aren’t backlit, save for four device buttons for TV, STB, DVD/VCR, and Audio near the top. The HDTV connects to the Internet through Wi-Fi or an Ethernet cable, and there’s a dedicated button for opening the Netflix app towards the bottom. A relatively small, unassuming button near the Netflix and Menu buttons brings up the HDTV’s other connected features through Sharp’s SmartCentral interface.
The SmartCentral button brings up a row of commonly used apps on the bottom of the screen, and selecting the SmartCentral icon accesses the main hub. The hub itself has tabs labeled TV, Streaming, Apps, and Search. The TV tab is an alternative to your cable or satellite provider’s TV guide, and features a pictorial guide of your available channels. The Streaming tab brings up a similar interface for streaming content. However, this tab only contains Vudu and YouTube.
The Apps tab shows a handful of preloaded apps, including YouTube, Netflix, and Vudu. It’s a rather limited selection compared with other smart TV interfaces from the likes of LG and Samsung, and even some of Sharp’s other smart TVs. It notably lacks services like Hulu Plus, Pandora, Rhapsody, and Amazon Instant Video. There’s no app store to speak of, so what you see is what you get, though Sharp promises to release an update with more apps later this month.
Navigating through SmartCentral with the remote is a relatively slow and clunky experience. Some Samsung and LG 4K Smart TV sets include motion or touchpad remotes that let you point and select on-screen items, which is much easier and quicker than continually pressing multiple direction buttons. Sharp does offer the SmartCentral mobile app for iOS and Android to control the set over Wi-Fi, but we had trouble with the app on an iPad Air 2.