I never really got into the idea of the “Smart TV.” That’s not to say I don’t think they’re a great idea; a one-stop hub for all the various television apps that are available now, plus being able to access the internet. It’s a solid concept, but I’ve only ever used my TV for gaming, anything TV or movie related I typically use my laptop for. Never trusting the unstable nature of online streaming, I’ve always preferred to either own a physical copy of a movie or show, or (though I shouldn’t admit it) just grab a torrent of it; it’s what’s kept me away from Crackle, Shomi, or even Apple TV (but I avoid most Apple products).
The new Sharp*Roku TV full HD LED TV is a solid merging of display and function. The display is a crisp 1080p although a few of the preset colour displays are a little weird. I tried Super Mario 3D world for the Wii U on it and I found the colours were more vibrant and a bit crisper in the ‘eco-save’ mode as opposed to the ‘normal.’ However, all these can be adjusted to fit your own personal preference, so this is a very minor detail. Watching Mad Max: Fury Road on it looked equally as good. Sound wise, the Smart Roku TV is a bit on the quiet side, which make sense for being fairly thin. I had the volume at 70 before I could comfortably hear anything.
The Sharp/Roku has full media support, equipped with three HDMI ports, a standard A/V port, and a basic ANT cable port. I find it a bit strange that the TV doesn’t come with component cable ports (some of us still want to play our Gamecube games in a higher resolution that normal, thank you), but it makes up for it 10 times over by coming equipped with a headphone jack (a feature often removed from bigger TVs).
Having never tried a Roku streaming device, I initially found the menu a bit awkward. It was bizarre that the TV loaded up the Roku menu as opposed to whatever was on screen, and it was weird that the inputs were part of the base menu since this ran counter to every other TV I’ve used forever. However, once I spent more time with it, I began seeing its functionality. The menu is extremely flexible, allowing to you to customize its theme, the layout of menu items, and even name input to the function it’s supporting (Wii, Xbox, Blu Ray, etc). One small feature that I quite like is how when you place the cursor over one of your input or app buttons, it will give you a live preview of what’s on screen, complete with sound.
The Roku comes pre-loaded with standard video apps like Netflix, Crackle, YouTube, Crunchyroll, and a litany of others. The Roku comes pre-loaded with Google Play video, allowing users to rent movies or download them straight to the TV. But through the Roku app store, you can acquire several free apps from Firefox, to Facebook, to games and music.
The control takes a bit of time to get used to as well, being very small and simplistic. Anyone like me, who’s used to standard TV remotes, might find the lack of buttons a bit off-putting; however, its simple design lends itself well to the simple design of the Roku menu. Anyone familiar with current Roku devices will be very familiar with the remote.
The Sharp Smart Roku TV is a fine TV. With a crisp picture, lightweight and sleek design, and a solid interface, it’s well worth taking a look at. If you’re in the market for a Smart TV, the Sharp Roku will run about 500 dollars, which is actually very reasonable when compared to most Smart TVs in the same size range. It’s certainly smarter than the average TV.