Last year, LG put passive 3D televisions into a number of English pubs for the express purpose of showing 3D sporting events. Caught up in the frenzy, while lacking this hotel-based push, Australia followed with a couple of three-dimensional broadcasts of its own.
Fast-forward 12 months, and while the commercial networks have cooled their boots on 3D, an LG passive TV has finally made it to these shores. Though the hype may have died down, there are some excellent reasons to consider this model — and 3D is just one of them.
The LG 47LW6500 continues the sleek black look of previous TVs, and features a "borderless design" with a single sheet of glass across the front. The edging has a clear plastic rim, though we're not so sure about the faint fleck of blue in the bezel.
But it's the remote. Oh, the remote! That's the star here. We think this is the start of a beautiful friendship. The truly magical Magic Motion pointer is a Wii-mote-style pointer that looks great and works wonderfully.
The LG LW6500 is a smart TV that includes video-on-demand via BigPond TV and Movies, a handful of apps (so far) and a web browser. The bundled Magic Motion remote (AU$79 separately) makes navigating the LG home screen a breeze, and works even when the plug-in USB receiver is out of your line of sight.
But it's "Cinema 3D" that LG seems to be the most proud of, and the LW6500 is certainly unique in the market. Unlike other systems, the 3D smarts are built into the TV and not into the glasses, which means that the glasses are the cheap part. Unlike other TVs, then, the LG bundles four glasses in the box, with more available at just AU$19 for two pairs. The 3D system covers most types of 3D including 2D-to-3D conversion. Just be aware that, as this is a passive system, it effectively halves the resolution to 540i when viewing 3D content.
Other features include: onboard Wi-Fi connectivity; extensive file support with streaming via DLNA and third-party system "Plex"; and a 200Hz mode.
Connections include four HDMI 1.4 ports (one with ARC), two USBs, VGA, one component and one composite. The TV comes with an Ethernet port, and wireless is optional.
We were impressed with our encounter with the LW6500, and while it isn't the best performer in either 2D or 3D, it's definitely more than the sum of its parts.
Whether we played DVDs, off-air or Blu-rays, we were presented with images of great scale. Black levels were only so-so in comparison to the best, but images had an impressive dynamism to them. The TV wasn't able to dig up the deep blacks of the Sony HX820, but the picture was simply better. Less motion blur, better colours. The TV also had a way of holding onto images and not letting them slide around in pools of smudge.
When it came to the true number crunching, the TV was able to put in an excellent performance with our synthetic HQV tests and a spectacular performance with video — one of the best yet. Unlike the Sony, you don't need to choose Auto 1 this or Auto 2 that; it just works. It's truly "smart".
But what we clamour for is the Magic Motion remote; it's an addictive little device, and we only wish that we could use it as a universal remote for our DVD and Blu-ray players. We can see the Sony TVs and the Samsung TVs using a similar system next year, or even leapfrogging it entirely and going for a Kinect-style interface.
We were also impressed by the 3D experience, and while you could see definite interlacing — like you'd see on an old CRT — the experience is much more natural and a lot brighter than shutter glasses, and less likely to cause you eyestrain and headaches.
Sound quality was OK for the price, and we found that the TV could go quite loud — though things did get a bit nasty over the 70 per cent mark.
With the 47LW6500, LG has realised its potential and produced the best TV that we've seen from the company in years. It's managed to produce an excellent all-rounder at a reasonable price, and thrown in a really fun "smart" system, as well. It doesn't have the "wow" factor of the rivalling Samsung TVs, but it's solid and well-deserving of our Editor's Choice.