The LG 55LM9600 — LG's current top of the line model in Australia — may be a bit pricey for many purchasers. This TV is much, much cheaper, yet, at first glance, seems to offer little that is different.
That's partly an illusion.
It gets a remarkably thin bezel of 10mm, rather than 3mm. It gets a 'Magic Motion' remote control (in addition to a standard one), but doesn't use voice recognition. It is a little thinner than the more expensive model (at 33.1mm), but also a touch heavier.
As is the norm, the full HD LCD panel uses zone-controlled Edge LEDs to selectively illuminate different portions of the screen, allowing bright patches in a generally black field. For 3D, the TV uses the passive system pioneered by LG. Consequently, you get lots of 3D glasses with it — they are quite cheap, after all. There are four sets of regular 3D glasses and two 'Dual Play' sets. A 'Dual Play' display mode in the TV shows only one half to the wearer of the glasses (either left or right, top or bottom), while the other wearer sees only the other half. In two player split screen games, used with this mode, each player gets to see only their own part of the action stretch across the entire screen. Albeit, we should add, with a distorted aspect ratio since it is twice as tall or wide, as it ought to be. If this takes off, expect some games in the future to have a display format option, allowing them to appear with the correct aspect ratio.
In addition to some legacy analogue inputs, you get four HDMI inputs, Ethernet, built in Wi-Fi and three USB sockets. One of these supports the addition of a generic USB hard drive, to which it can record TV, and so be used to rewind or pause live TV.
With the default settings, the picture was a touch edgy, with picture noise emphasised and the boundaries of objects on the screen looking kind of flaky. The problem, as is commonly the case, was the Sharpness control. This was set at 25. Turning it down to zero resulted in a smooth, clean image of both SD and HD content. The default colour, brightness and contrast settings were reasonable, so with this simple adjustment, the picture was very close to optimal.
The black levels were respectable, but if checked in a dark room there was a little mottling on full black scenes, as the backlight broke through a touch, unevenly. This could be improved by switching on the 'Eco' mode, which makes the TV's backlighting level react to ambient light.
We blame the current energy star rating regime for this not being on by default (the measurement rules require it to be switched off to determine the star rating). LG says this TV is good for 8 stars. We made it 9 stars under the formal measurement protocols. In that test, it used an average of 73 watts. But in Eco mode, in a dark room, it was often consuming less than forty watts, or less than ten per cent of what a 50-inch plasma from five years ago chewed up.
As for 3D, well, it was simply excellent. In all the content we watched, there was no visible crosstalk. Even using the nasty Werner Bloos crosstalk test, there was zero crosstalk when it came to black objects from one eye intruding upon a white field perceived by the other. Reversing the blacks and whites, the leakage was around 15-percent, which seemed plenty to produce complete subjective freedom from crosstalk.
But do remember that you need to sit further from a passive TV in 3D mode than an active one, in order to overcome the reduced vertical resolution.
The TV has a massive range of internet-based extras: all the usual stuff that you'd expect — YouTube and various catch-up TV services, including ABC iView. There are also a bunch of LG-provided online 3D clips and shorts. You can edit the 'Cards' on which these various things are gathered to make accessing your favourite stuff easier. Subjectively, this TV seemed a touch slower to respond than the LM9600, presumably because it lacks the dual core processor of the more expensive model.
The same 'LG Magic' remote app can be used. This is a touch basic, in options, and doesn't have the Second Screen option of the LM9600. It does have a useful mouse pointer, though, and can pop up a keyboard for text entry when required, such as when entering addresses using the web browser. The lack of a dual processor didn't seem to slow this up, significantly.
But for regular use, the RF-linked 'Magic Motion' remote control was wonderful. You wave this and a pointer appears on screen, which you can then move. This took little time to master, but became intuitive and easy remarkably quickly. We think this is the future of TV remotes.
The LG 55LM7600 TV offers an excellent range of features and fine picture quality for a reasonable price. It is especially good with 3D, so long as you sit far enough away — we'd recommend at least three metres.