- Intelligent Roku TV integration
- Feature rich at affordable price
- Pleasant user interface, including mobile remote app
- Black levels are not very black
- No component video input
- Low refresh rate
We have a lot of screens in our lives. We have the smallest one on our wrists with smartwatches, bigger ones in our hands with smartphones, and even bigger ones with tablets, laptops and desktop computers. But the biggest screen in most of our lives is probably the television in the living room.
There has to be a way to make this display a little bit smarter and more integrated. And that's how we arrive at the Sharp Roku TV, shown here in its 43-inch variant. It's exactly what you think it is and that's not such a bad thing.
A Smarter Kind of Smart TV?
For a while there, part of the reason why you would choose to get a set top box or streaming device was to add some "smart" features to a TV that wasn't smart. These days, the vast majority of televisions are sold with Internet connectivity, but the interface on many of these TVs still leaves something to be desired. In this way, a Roku TV like the LC-43LB371C shown here (catchy name, I know) provides the best of both worlds.
In effect, you have a Roku box built right into the television itself. I won't go into the details of the Roku ecosystem and its 1,400+ streaming channels, as you can have a read through my recent Roku 3 review to get on top of that. You get everything here that you get there, except the remote doesn't have the headphone jack that I love.
As far as the TV itself is concerned, the 43-inch Sharp Roku TV is far from being the slimmest in the bunch. While not huge, it is chunkier than many of the newer LED TVs on the market. As can be expected, you get a full HD 1080p resolution on this panel, though only with a 60Hz refresh rate. The stand consists of two L-shaped pieces that screw into the underside. They're quite low profile, so the TV will sit pretty low if opt out of mounting it on the wall.
Ports, Inputs and Setup
At its most basic level, this Roku TV should have you covered. The primary focus is on the streaming channels, but you can naturally connect actual hardware too, like your cable box, Blu-ray player or game console. Around the back, you'll find three HDMI inputs, one coaxial input (for cable), and one composite input, as well as a USB port for media files. Notably missing is a component input, which could prove problematic for some users.
You'll also find both optical and stereo audio outputs for your home theater or external speakers. The downward firing pair of 8-watt speakers are adequate for what they are, but they're hardly anything to write home about.
That's So Roku TV
The user interface for this Roku TV is exactly like what you get on the Roku 3 streaming box. The main navigation for the home screen is along the left with your various options shown along the right. The key difference here is that you'll also notice "channels" for your HDMI, AV and antenna TV inputs. You can keep these the way they are or, through the settings, you can choose to hide one or more of the ones you don't plan on using.
Similarly, the remote provided with the Sharp Roku TV is practically identical to the one provided with the regular Roku box. You still get the great volume and mute buttons along the side, making it really easy to adjust your volume while watching a movie in the dark. I would have preferred if there was a way to reprogram the quick access buttons, as I personally don't use Cineplex or Rdio. Having quick access to YouTube or even one of my HDMI inputs would've been nice.
While the wireless remote is perfectly simple and easy to use, you may prefer to control your Roku TV via the free mobile app instead. Again, this is the same app as you can use with other Roku devices. A key advantage here is that you can bring up the keyboard on your smartphone or tablet, making it far easier to type your searches into Netflix, Crackle, YouTube or whatever else you may be watching.
But What About the Actual TV Part?
We have to remember that despite have all this Roku-ness going on under the hood, this is still a television like any other and we should still expect it to provide the basic features we want in a TV. When you dive into the "Advanced picture settings" on this TV, you still gain access to brightness, contrast, sharpness and color temperature preferences. You'll also find a few different picture modes, including Eco save, Vivid and Movie.
And it really depends on what you're watching. Streaming a video from YouTube in Movie mode looked dim and muted, but the regular or Eco save modes were fine. By contrast, watching a more dimly-lit movie in Eco save mode gave everything an annoying blue tint where there was no blue at all. You'll really need to fiddle with these settings to get what you prefer.
This being said, I did find that the black levels on this TV left something to be desired. They never really got all that black and lowering the brightness level didn't help enough. Picture quality is simply decent, but this is hardly being positioned as a more premium TV. It is what it is for the price that it is.
MEGATechie Sharp as a Tack or MEGATechie Roku Bottom?
I fully realize that I'm coming from a position of privilege when I say that this Sharp Roku TV is little more than "OK" when it comes to how things look. The picture isn't quite as sharp, the black levels aren't quite as dark and the color can be inconsistent. I am coming from the perspective of watching a more expensive TV most of the time; this said, for a TV that can be purchased at Best Buy for $449.99, this unit lives up to its promises.
The Roku integration is stupendous and I really like how easy it is to setup and to use, particularly through the mobile remote app. The way that Roku handles the "streaming channels" is great and as a secondary TV for the living room or for the kids, this Sharp Roku TV delivers the goods.