LG LM860 (47LGLM860V) 3D LED LCD TV Review
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Mark takes LG's new high-end Cinema 3D TV for a spin.
The model we have for review is the LG 47LM860V 47 inch Full HD LED LCD TV with Cinema 3D, LED backlighting, a Freeview HD tuner and full UK specifications. Also available is the LG 42LM860V 42 inch Full HD LED TV with Cinema 3D and LG 55LM860V 55 inch Full HD LED TV with Cinema 3D which have not been reviewed here but should offer the same features and a similar performance.
We think it would be fair to say that last year’s flagship LED TV from LG, the ‘Nano’ LW980T, didn’t quite hit the mark. With a botched marketing campaign that promised a lot more local dimming zones than production units actually delivered and a poor implementation of the dimming algorithms for those that were present. But credit to LG, who put their hands up and admitted they could have done better and who are always open to suggestions of how to improve their products, not to mention their open and direct dialogue with their customers in our dedicated Forum.
Whilst the LG 47LM860V is not quite their top-tier product for 2012 it does have somewhat lofty aspirations and a price-tag to match. If you can think of a feature the LM860 probably has it; from Cinema 3D to an Internet Browser through motion control and Smart TV features, it really is chock full of diversions. Of course all those bells and whistles aren’t worth a jot if the LM860V can’t deliver on its primary purpose in producing fine pictures. So have LG gone back to the drawing board with any success? Let’s get stuck in and find out!
The full in-depth review follows after the summary and scoring and the Test Results are under the tab above.
With its stunning 3D pictures and excellent video processing it’s a shame that the LG LM860V is so undone by the unwelcome bedfellows of array banding and dirty screen effect. For a television in this tier of pricing we find it particularly unacceptable when we know that whilst it is often a problem we see with the LED technology, it doesn’t need to be as evident as it was on the sample supplied for review. Black levels and dynamic range performance were also disappointing although far more forgivable given the generous viewing angles and the fact the LM860 is capable of producing bright images with a decent degree of accuracy, making it a decent choice for a room with bright lighting. It was possible to slightly improve on the native black level by utilising the local dimming algorithms but since this LG seems to be only equipped with only 12 vertical dimming zones, the accuracy wasn’t good, leading to some very noticeable haloing around objects that could sometimes be seen from top to bottom of the screen. LG has got some work to do, especially with the engineering challenges, before the LM860 reaches the standards required for an AVForums recommendation but at least we know they’re a company that does listen and is proactive in addressing problems; so there is hope.
We were impressed by the sleek, almost borderless design of the LM860 that was underscored by the titanium bezel running across the bottom. The remote control was a pleasure to use, being light in the hand and now that there’s a dedicated settings button, we no longer have to work our way through the Home Page to get at the picture controls. The newly refined Magic Motion Remote Control also proved a surprise hit with us, in particular the scroll wheel makes navigation around the Smart features and Web Browser a far more rewarding experience than that with the conventional handset, even if it had the tendency to jump off your selection at the last moment. Around the back of the stylish fascia we were presented with all the usual connections you would expect including 4 HDMI inputs, 3 USB ports, a LAN connection and D-SUB PC in.
The layout of LG’s new Home Page is excellent and makes navigation of the Smart features a breeze with its card style design. Once in the centre of operations, users can easily access lots of video on demand content from the likes of the BBC iPlayer and LoveFilm and there’s even a dedicated card for action in the third dimension in LG’s 3D World. Owners are also able to Twitter or Facebook their time away and, with the purchase of an optional camera/mic attachment can engage in Skype video calling from the comfort of their sofas. Couch potatoes might also welcome the tabbed web browser that works relatively well, if a bit slowly, and the Magic Motion controller really comes in to its own there. The ability to hook up external storage for PVR duties is also a nice option and USB hard drives can also be used to playback a fairly generous selection of media files with the promise of the same support through DLNA streaming.
Out of the box picture accuracy was quite good, if a little on the rosy side, and with the second sample we were able to calibrate a reference greyscale. With the new CMS we were also able to achieve virtual reference colour reproduction and the video processing was not far behind in performance with top notch scaling, deinterlacing and cadence detection on-board. It’s a shame we couldn’t find a setting of the Tru-Motion motion interpolating engine we liked, particularly as we could detect a slight judder to fine movements.
Where the 2D performance was a bit of a let-down owing to the poor uniformity and disappointing contrast, the LG LM860V almost redeemed itself with its excellent 3D delivering the bright, crosstalk and flicker free images we’ve come to expect from them. It’s a pity the input lag really hampers the pleasure derived from video gaming as, otherwise, it might have been an excellent choice for 3D gaming pursuits. The energy consumption figures were far more impressive, however, with the LM860 drawing just 86W, in calibrated 2D mode, and 106W in 3D.
Frankly we expected more from the LG 47LM860V and until they can sort out the engineering challenges in producing more uniform panels, it goes down as a missed opportunity.
Note: In view of the fact the initial review sample had a fault whereby it wouldn't store white balance calibration settings we asked for another, as we like to review everything on a level playing field. As it transpires the second sample exhibited almost identical issues with perhaps a slight reduction in array banding but the calibration controls did work and we were able to achieve much better results there.
Design and Connections
The LG LM860 follows the trend of providing an almost bezel-less design, at least to the top and sides that are merely a frosted black strip a centimetre in width. Running underneath the screen, the finish changes to a titanium look and increases in width to 3cm, in the centre of which sits the LG logo that illuminates to three different intensities but can also be turned off, should you so wish, although there does seem to be a small bug here where the setting gets forgotten. Below the metallic strip runs a transparent strip that houses the infra-red sensor and power indicator light and, to the rear of the right hand side, are a few buttons with some basic controls, including the on/off switch. The LM860 is not stick thin and at its deepest point measures five and half centimetres but we don’t mind that at all if it means it won’t be plagued by array banding, which is presumably the aim in it being a bit beefier than the 2011 ranges. It’s certainly a very attractive and distinctive design whose uniqueness is carried over in to the new winged stand. Samsung started the trend of making their TVs stand out from the crowd with the infamous quad stand but we were never too keen on it, although we understood the reasoning behind it and we have to say the winged stand of the LG LM860V doesn’t really light our fire, either, and instead of looking like a bird in flight more resembles a Ski Jumper ready to take off from the ramp. Perhaps someone should have told LG it’s not the Winter Olympics until 2014.
Whilst the bezel has been working out at the gym, the remote control seems to have been on something of a diet and fits a little more snuggly in to the hand. We really like it and the fact there’s a new SETTINGS button is a real plus as previously it was necessary to navigate through the Home Page to get at even simple controls. There’s a recess to the rear for your index finger making it extremely comfortable to hold and all the buttons sit where you’d want them with the possible exception on the INFO button which is awkwardly placed to the bottom left. There’s no backlight but as most of the buttons at the top are glow-in-the-dark, it doesn’t really matter.
If you don’t like the standard remote control – although we think you will – you can always try the Magic Motion Remote control that ships with the LM860V. It’s very simply laid out with just 9 buttons on the face, including vol/channel up and down, Standby, 3D, Home and Back but the best thing about it is the scroll wheel that makes using the Smart TV features and Web Browser a much more rewarding and speediey process than using the conventional controller. It’s not perfect and you might find that clicking the wheel to select a highlighted item causes the cursor to jump off it but it’s certainly forgivable and the accuracy is much improved over last year’s effort, which liked to wander on its own. There’s even voice recognition technology built-in but as the only success we had was with the command ‘Back’, it was not something we used greatly. Perhaps it’s not keen on northern accents.
Also in the box with the LG 47LM860V comes seven pairs of polarised glasses, including two for the dual play gaming feature that have lenses with matching polarity meaning gamers can engage in local multiplayer action whilst viewing their own unique (almost) full screen. It’s a nice feature if you have any games to take advantage of it which we, alas, did not; never mind anyone to play with at home. The glasses are extremely light, as you would expect, and will fit comfortably over a pair of prescription specs. They are also nicely tint free and don’t darken the 3D pictures overly and come in a variety of ‘cheerful’ colours. You’re never going to look good wearing them so why not at least look happy!
The LG LM860 features the near standard set of connections with 4 HDMI side-facing along with 3 USB ports and a CAM slot. The HDMI ports are just over 10cm from the edge of the bezel so it will be touch and go for those with chunkier cables as to whether they’ll be hidden when inserted. Running across the downward facing connections panel there is a LAN port; D-SUB PC in with audio jack; the satellite and aerial connections; a headphone jack; connections for the supplied adapters for Scart, Component and Composite sources and an S/PDIF digital audio out.
Menus and Setup
The set up process of the LG LM860V takes about 10 minutes and shouldn’t prove too taxing for anyone with a series of basic questions regarding location and TV placement and tuning and network set up taken care of. It’s a shame that the Picture Wizard no longer forms part of initial set up but at least the option exists in the menus. The general structure and appearance of the GUI (Graphical User Interface) remains the same from last year but we were very pleased that the new SETTINGS button of the remote control takes you straight in to the action. The menus themselves are very slick, well presented and helpful to novice users with a ‘Balloon’ description of what a particular option does, or is supposed to do, appearing to the right of the highlighted item.
LG really are one of the most responsive manufacturers when it comes to taking on board feedback and we were very happy to see that the colour management system (CMS) has been expanded to a full 6 axis 3D tool allowing for control over tint (hue), saturation and luminance for both the primary and secondary colours. The CMS is located in the Expert Control area of the Picture Menu along with both 2 and 20 point White Balance controls, some pre-set gamma curves and a choice of Colour Gamut options. Provided the isf Expert picture mode is used, users can also set a target peak luminance value although in testing it struggled to get anything above 200 cd/m2 despite the fact you are able to target much more. Also, less usefully, in the Expert Control menu are the Dynamic Contrast, Super Resolution and Edge Enhancement options which were all set to ‘Off’.
The Picture Menu also contains all the more mundane controls of course, including Backlight, Contrast, Brightness and Colour and there are both vertical and horizontal Sharpness controls that we left at default in the isf mode.
Since the LG 47LM860V is a 3D display there is a menu for all the 3D settings which can be accessed via a dedicated button on the remote but it will also pop up when the display detects a 3D signal. This menu allows you to choose between the different 3D delivery systems including 2D to 3D conversion, side by side, top and bottom, checkerboard and frame sequential. There is also a control for adjusting the depth and viewpoint of the 3D effect when converting from 2D to 3D and a Colour Correction option. Our review sample arrived with the 3D On Start Setting set to on which meant each time the TV booted up it was in 2D>3D conversion mode which was a bit irritating but we’re not sure if that’s the factory default setting. In any case, you’ll probably want that set to Off. We’ll cover some of the other options found in the Picture Option sub menu later, particularly concerning the film mode, local dimming and MCI 800 interpolation engine that’s set under the Tru-Motion options, later in the review
The AUDIO menu has treble/bass/clear voice and sound mode options as well as settings for digital audio output and switching the Audio Return Channel (ARC) on or off. Under TIME you can, unsurprisingly set the time, and wake up/sleep timers. The LOCK menu has password settings and a parental lock option whilst you can set up or check your connectivity options in the NETWORK menu. The SUPPORT menu plays home to self-checks for picture, audio and signal as well as the option to check for software updates and product information. Everything else you could possibly think of, and a few more besides can be found under the OPTION sub-menu.
As we said earlier, the LG LM860V is as feature rich a TV as you could wish for and we were greatly impressed by LG’s new layout for their Home page from where everything can be accessed. Navigation is extremely fast, especially using the Magic Motion controller, with the content accessibly and cleanly presented and if you have a favourite app you can make it quicker to access by adding it to My Apps which will see it included in a bar at the bottom of the Home page. To add to the usability, the Home page can be customised to your own preferences in appearance, to a degree, and it’s all presented in a ‘card’ style format for the different categories – Premium, 3D World, LG Smart World and Smart Share.
Cottoning on to the fact that most owners won’t have access to a great deal of 3D content, LG have upgraded their previous 3D Zone Smart TV app to 3D World which now commands its own card on the Home page. At present there are around 70 things to watch encompassing entertainment, sports, documentary, kids, and lifestyle and we particularly enjoyed the 3D Dive documentary but there’s plenty of other good stuff in there too, and it’s free! There’s most of the usual 2D video on demand suspects in there too with BBC iPlayer (coming soon), YouTube and Lovefilm all featuring although the sooner they get Netflix on there, the better. If you’re of that persuasion you can chat to friends or share what you had for lunch on Facebook and Twitter and with the purchase of a separate camera/mic attachment, AN-VC400, you can take it one stage further and chat to people face to face through Skype.
Owners can hook up a hard drive to record programming from the internal, HD capable, Freeview or Free to Air Satellite (not Freesat so no EPG or other niceties) tuners or playback some media files which can also be done using the DLNA streaming facilities. Codec support seemed generous enough but obviously, if streaming is of major importance to you, a dedicated box or HTPC would provide a better solution. Thanks to the built-in Wi-Fi media streaming should be relatively easy to achieve for most and you’re not limited to files on a PC as the LM860 will happily communicate with smartphones and tablets provided they’re equipped with the relevant – and free – app.
The included web browser looks very similar to Panasonic’s new effort and offers a tabbed browsing experience and the option to create favourites that can appear on your homepage. It is a touch on the slow side and the LM860 certainly seems to lack the speed of the Panasonic’s (not just the dual core models) but the real plus is that the Magic Motion controller’s scroll wheel makes page navigation and absolute breeze and is superior to the VIERA’s Touch Pad controller in that respect. The down side is that clicking the wheel in as the OK/Enter button can cause the cursor to jump off the target, which can be frustrating. There’s still a long way to go before we’d consider going to the TV as our first port of call for internet duties but things are moving in the right direction and further refinements and innovations in the control technology will only help take up.
Picture Quality – 2D
Having been unable to calibrate the LM860 to our requirements we’d have to rely on pretty much its native state to provide satisfaction, with perhaps a touch of local dimming trickery to improve the ordinary contrast and black levels. Unfortunately the local dimming proved a no-go owing to the excessive haloing it caused. The LM860 seems to only use 12 zones for dimming that run vertically up the panel and thus an object on a dark background would cause the panel to illuminate the entire zone, from top to bottom, irrespective of its size. In all honesty the dimming didn’t improve greatly on the measured black level of 0.12cd/m2, using an ANSI checkerboard pattern, and it was detrimental to the already poor shadow detailing performance so we’d say it’s not really worth bothering with.
So with only modest dynamic range and uncalibrated greyscale performance we were pretty much relying on the superb video processing and inherent panel luminance to provide excellence in 2D pictures; and the LM860V had no trouble in hitting 200 cd/m2 even in its ‘calibrated’ Expert mode, which means it can certainly pack a punch, even in more challenging rooms where light control isn’t possible. Viewing angles were very, very good too and approaching plasma levels, save for a little contrast wash-out from extreme angles but given the lack of deep blacks, in the first place, even that was hardly noticeable with most real world content.
The excellent scaling meant that it was not only with High Definition content that the LG LM860 looked good but, of course, HD is where it’s at and, at times, the LG looked truly stunning with beautifully realised and detailed pictures filling the screen but if you’re sensing a caveat or two, top marks for perception because there are. First and foremost, array banding and dirty screen effect (DSE) were almost constant, and unwelcome, companions. The array banding – alternating vertical strips down the panel going dark, light, dark, etc - was almost constantly visible and once action on screen started to move, it morphed in to a dirty screen effect as the array blurred behind the images. Not a happy state of affairs and we sincerely hope that mass retail units don’t all show this problem. There were some light pooling issues too although where these are generally most apparent, in the ‘black bars’ of non 16:9 material, was pretty much masked by the fact the LM860V seemed to be able to effectively switch off the pixels in the bars.
Our final issue is perhaps not one that many will pick up on but we have to report everything we observe and that was in a slight judder to fine movements, where the motion processing seemed to be in small state of confusion. It was somewhat similar to what we saw on the Samsung D7000 and D8000 LED TVs we reviewed in 2011, although far less frequent or noticeable but still there.
Update: The replacement sample we received exhibited exactly the same degree of dirty screen effect and juddery movement, a bit more light pooling but slightly less panel banding so the overall observations here remain unchanged.
Picture Quality – 3D
With the exception of the Sim 2 Lumis projector I was recently lucky enough to see, my experiences with active shutter 3D haven’t been the best, in fact ‘flicker fest’ would be a fair description as I sadly always see it. The SIM2 is a £30,000 projector, however, that uses triple flash technology to combat the flicker and not really comparable to a domestic TV but it’s always refreshing, personally speaking, when I get a Passive 3DTV to cover, if only for the fact I don’t have to take a break every 30 minutes during testing. If I’m going to ‘do’ 3D, it has to be passive and the LG LM860V was another shining example of why that is.
We went on at length as to why we don’t think Passive is the poor relation to Active Shutter systems in the recent Panasonic ET5 Review but to précis that, we didn’t notice any loss of resolution or the - incorrectly termed – ‘scan lines’ when viewing 3D from anything like a comfortable distance. In fact the bright, totally crosstalk free 3D pictures combined with the fact you don’t need to use those blinking glasses makes it a far better experience, at least in this reviewer’s eyes but, as ever, you need to go and see for yourself before parting with your hard earned readies.
There are some caveats with the passive technology, one of which is that it doesn’t really work off the vertical axis so it wouldn’t suit an above fireplace mount or those people who like to watch standing up or lying on the floor. Not that we’d imagine there are many of those. As a 3D display, the LG LM860 delivers in spades; but the uniformity issues are still there, even with the shades on.
Using our new LagTest Device, we measured Game Mode to have a very disappointing latency of 101 milliseconds, even with the input relabelled as PC. To be honest, we didn't really need such a sophisticated device to tell us the LM860 is very sluggish for gaming and it's something we've fed back to LG that they need to work on.
More positive news here as the LG LM860 proved very efficient in consuming an average of just 86W in calibrated 2D mode, with 3D taking 106W. Out of the box, in Standard mode, draw was averaged at 89W which is an indication that manufacturers are being forced to ship TVs with energy efficient settings as the differences between calibrated and non-calibrated numbers used to be far larger.
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The range of different colours that a device can accurately capture. The more colours, the wider the colour gamut.
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Full HD 3D LED LCD TV
Size: 47 inch television
Suggested price: £1,899
Reviewed 2nd May, 2012 by Mark Hodgkinson
To get the best out of your TV or projector, consider getting it calibrated.
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