The first so-called wireless TV, the Sharp Aquos LC-15L1E looks much like a standard 15-inch LCD flat panel, complete with a stand and built-in speakers. But a handle on the top signifies the TV's portability: when you connect an antenna, a cable TV box, a DVD player, or a VCR to the included base station, you can watch those sources anywhere in the house.
Sharp's package consists of a base station and the TV itself. We found the little TV's styling funky, to say the least; just about everyone in the office commented on the set's rounded earlike speakers. Looks aside, the design is practical but for a few problems. We like the handle, and the included stand easily detaches from the monitor itself, but the entire thing is quite heavy and unwieldy at 6.4kg with the stand. You'll also have to remember to bring the wireless remote with you (a built-in caddy would have been nice), as well as the remote controls of any gear you're operating, such as a DVD player or a cable box.
That's right -- you can control your video sources through the LC-15L1E. We tested the hook-up by plugging the included IR blaster into the base station and running its two emitters to the IR receiving ports of various gear in our A/V testing room. It worked better than we expected; all of the gear we tested worked as usual when we pointed the original equipment's remote at the Sharp LCD TV, even when the TV, the remote, and ourselves were 15m away from the base station and the gear. We experienced about a two-second delay flipping channels, but that's not too bad.
The LC-15L1E has a relatively large screen, plus the separate media box affords it plenty of connections -- a total of two RGB Scarts, two S-Video connections and an RF input. It would be nice if you could surf the internet or perform some more advanced multimedia functions, but the LC-15L1E is strictly for audio/video.
We found video quality more than adequate for casual TV viewing. The image looked bright enough (important for a set that's likely to see time under the outdoor sun), there was no lip-sync delay, and viewing the screen from off-angle didn't affect brightness or colour very much. Since the TV has an input on its back, in addition to the inputs on the base station, we were able to compare wired with wireless picture quality. The wireless transmission definitely looked worse; for example, scenes from the Alien DVD showed more false contouring around the rings of the planet and more video noise and contours in the fog around the lights as the explorers approach the crashed alien ship.
The Sharp uses the 802.11b standard for transmission, which will result in interference from cordless phones, microwaves, and other 2.4GHz devices. Our environment is pretty crowded; there were no fewer than eight wireless networks active during our testing period, and that may have contributed to the fairly unimpressive range results. We were able to take the TV about 12m from the base station, through two walls, before the picture began to freeze intermittently, and by 20m, it was unwatchable due to breakup and freezing. Long-term tests conducted about 15m away from the base station also resulted in some breakup but not enough to prove really distracting. We'd consider 15m the outer limit of the set's range in our office, although with fewer obstacles in a less Wi-Fi-crowded environment, the range may increase.
The battery averaged about three hours at normal brightness, and about half that in Bright mode, which would most likely be used outside during daylight hours. This is a pretty significant flaw, especially considering the length of today's movies.
Overall, we were mildly impressed by the LC-15L1E, but we doubt that many folks will want to put down the cash for this kind of novelty item. It's certainly a herald of television designs to come, however, and if you really want a nice-size portable TV to cart around the house, there aren't any alternatives.
|Before color temp (20/80)||8,929/7,728K||Poor|
|After color temp||N/A|
|Before grayscale variation||+/- 2,074K||Poor|
|After grayscale variation||N/A|
|Color decoder error: red||-5%||Good|
|Color decoder error: green||-5%||Good|
|DC restoration||All patterns stable||Good|
|2:3 pull-down, 24fps||N||Poor|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Y||Good|
Edited by John P. Falcone
Additional editing by Guy Cocker