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LG 47LA790W TV Review

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LG starts the new season in fine form

by Mark Hodgkinson May 10, 2013 at 12:00 AM

  • TV review


    LG 47LA790W TV Review
    SRP: £1,499.00

    What is the LG 47LA790W?

    Kicking off the new season for LG, here we have the 47LA790 from near the top of the Korean’s LED TV range. It packs in 3D pictures, LG’s superb smart feature set, a stunning appearance and the redesigned Magic Motion Controller. Naturally we’ll primarily be concentrating our focus on the pictures produced and specifically at improvements over last year's range which we found a bit hit and miss, if we’re being honest. During our recent trip to LG’s headquarters in Korea, they were keen to point out just how key picture fidelity and accuracy are to their mission, which was music to our ears, so let’s see if the LG 47LA790 can hit all the right notes.

    Design & Connections

    To all intents and purposes, the LG LA790 is a bezel-less design, save for a strip at the bottom that houses the infra-red sensor and the LG logo, which spans just over a centimetre. LG has cleverly chamfered the borders at the sides to give them the appearance they don’t exist and it all works to magnificent effect, carrying off that floating look so in vogue at the moment. Micro-bezels are old news in the world of high-end TVs however and now the focus of the design teams is in producing exotic stands and the LA790 doesn’t let the side down with its arched-footed base that whilst only a small refinement on last year’s offering, looks vastly better thanks to the matte coating and more curvaceous lines. Unlike many other engineering teams, LG’s has managed to incorporate a designer stand that actually swivels, so kudos to them for that.
    LG 47LA790W Design & Connections

    The LG 47LA790V is handsomely connected with 4 HDMI ports, side facing, together with a three USB inputs and a CAM slot; one of the USB connections is 3.0 compatible, as a point of interest. On the downward facing connections panel are a LAN port; 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.

    The LA790 comes with two remote controls. One is a standard rectangular version whilst the other is far more interesting. The redesigned Magic Motion Remote really is something quite special and we’ll cover it more in-depth in a separate review of LG’s Smart TV platform but it’s so good, in fact, that we completely dispensed with the services of the conventional handset during the process of the review. We’d never thought we’d see the day but only 2 generations in and LG has nailed it. Not only is it excellent for controlling the TV, we had it in control of our TiVo and Panasonic Blu-ray player too, making it a true universal with no features missing. The voice commands really work and we’re talking to virtual Siri levels and we’re pleased to see that LG is only using voice controls for search features; so no saying ‘Volume up’ etc when you might as well just have pressed a button. Colour us decidedly impressed. Our only small criticism is that the silver version that comes with the 790 isn’t as nice to look at or hold as the black iteration that ships with some of the 2013 LG TVs.
    LG 47LA790W Design & Connections


    There’s not much changed here over last year's Menu systems but that’s no bad thing as we’ve always considered LG's user interface to be right up there amongst the best. If there’s one criticism of the Magic Motion's layout it’s that there’s no dedicated Settings button so you’ll have to navigate in from the Smart Home Screen if you want full access to all the options. There is, however, a Quick Menu button which lets you to get to various important settings, including the Picture Modes that which count a couple of Expert isf Modes which have all the calibration controls necessary for a very detailed picture tune-up.
    LG 47LA790W Menus
    LG 47LA790W Menus

    Said Expert Modes include a Colour Management System (CMS) that is a full 6 axis 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. 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.

    The LG 47LA790V is a 3D display so there's 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.

    Test Results

    It was instantly obvious that the LA790 was already accurate, out-of-the-box, in the Expert Modes. The default settings are probably a touch dim for most rooms but there’s plenty of headroom with the Backlight control to satisfy just about every environment. As we can see from the chart on the left that greyscale was tracking almost flat with just a slight excess of green energy, here and there. Gamma performance was a little out of kilter but we may be able to straighten it out with the 20 point White Balance controls. The adherence to the Rec.709 for colour standard was even better with only a small under-saturation of red really worth noting. It seems that all LG’s talk of making their panels accurate to industry standards wasn’t just lip service.
    LG 47LA790W Test Results
    LG 47LA790W Test Results

    The inclusion of a 20 point white balance control might seem generous – and it is – but it should really be unnecessary and 10 is all you should ever really need. It seems a little churlish to complain but we feel vindicated as it’s not really working as it should. The fact is, the adjustments made using the 20pt menus only apply when using patterns generated internally from the TV and are wiped when switching back to another source. They are, as such, pretty useless and you can imagine how we laughed on discovering this bug, having spent a fair amount of time tuning the 790’s greyscale to perfection. Grrr.
    LG 47LA790W Test Results
    LG 47LA790W Test Results

    Moving swiftly on; as it was the 2 point controls proved enough to get Delta Errors for greyscale down below the commonly held acceptable level of 3, where it’s almost impossible to spot a lack of neutrality. Where the misfiring 20pt controls were missed was in controlling the gamma response and we just had to take as close to our 2.2 target as we could get.
    LG 47LA790W Test Results
    Fortunately the CMS showed no such issues, allowing us to bring both primary and secondary colours precisely in to their targets at full saturation, as shown in the charts above. Just as importantly colour luminances were able to be made spot on and performance at lower stimulation levels, as per the chart below, was also superb.
    Picture Processing

    The SMPTE 133 pattern revealed that the LA790 cleanly scaled 576i and 480i images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. It also scored well when it came to video deinterlacing and correctly locked on to not only the 2:3 (NTSC - USA/Japan) format and the 2:2 (PAL - European) format but also lots more obscure ones besides. With our Blu-ray player set to 1080i the display correctly deinterlaced and displayed both the video and film resolution tests. The LA790 also had no problems in showing video text overlaid on film based material and also handled 24p content without any problems.

    Using the Spears and Munsil disc we checked the headroom performance of the LA790 from reference white (video level 235) up to peak white (video level 255) and although it couldn’t quite hit peak white, it nearly got there although it struggled to show white with the darker shades of grey, compromising the dynamic range a little and potentially shadow detailing. We have to say we still aren’t keen on LG’s motion interpolating (Tru-Motion) engine. We could never find a compromise between cleaner looking resolution and not introducing the video-like soap 'opera effect', so it was set to off.

    LG 47LA790W
    LG has obviously been putting some investment in to making their IPS panels produce better native black levels. We’d typically expect something around the 0.11-12cd/m2 mark but the LA790 managed 0.078 on a full screen black pattern without dimming engaged. More creditably it kept that kind of performance up on a checkerboard pattern, yielding an ANSI contrast of over 1100:1, which is good going for this particular technology. On balance, we went with the Local Dimming in Low for our viewing which gave slightly more impressive results. An all black screen measured 0.048cd/m2 and the averaged black from the checkerboard came in at 0.072, giving an On/Off Contrast of nearly 2,500:1 and an ANSI figure of 1,250:1. These may not sound huge numbers compared to what we’ve been seeing from this year's plasma but nevertheless, they’re certainly respectable and a bit of a milestone for IPS technology.

    a bit of a milestone for IPS technology

    The local dimming setting worked well on low, providing reasonably satisfying black levels whilst eliminating the small amount of clouding present without it being engaged and without crushing any detail near black. Screen uniformity was actually pretty good, all round, and it was only with some panel array banding where we have justifiable cause for complaint. Typically, it was with sport where we first saw it, showing up as both horizontal and vertical rectangular blocks as the camera panned across the field. It was mostly to the centre, which is unfortunate, but we’ve seen much worse examples of panel banding in other LED TVs. Forgivable but sports lovers may want to take note.

    Gaming Performance

    The LA790V acquitted itself reasonably well on the gaming front. We’ve seen LGs struggle with very high input latency in the past and without the Game Picture Mode enabled, this was looking like going down the same path with a controller lag in the mid 120 milliseconds. Fortunately the Game Mode brought this down considerably to around 52ms so probably fine for most single player games. Competitive gamers and those fond of twitch and 2D fighters might want to look elsewhere.

    Energy Consumption
    • Standby: 0W
    The following measurements were taken with a full screen 50% white pattern:
    • Out-of-the-Box – Eco Mode: 73.7W
    • Calibrated – Expert Mode: 52.3W
    • Calibrated – Expert 3D Mode: 97.2W


    Since this section of the review could justifiably take up the next 20 minutes of your life, we’re going to post a dedicated look at LG’s 2013 Smart TV Platform very soon but the short version is that it’s incredibly good and highly usable for all the household. 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 the ‘More’ Bar which runs across 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, Game World, 3D World, Smart World and Smart Share. We’ll update this review with a link and video once we’ve completed the dedicated versions.
    LG 47LA790W Features
    LG 47LA790W Features

    LG 47LA790W Picture Quality 2D

    It might not have the most impressive dynamic range but on most other fronts the LG 47LA790 does produce very nice pictures. Colours are extremely plausible and there’s generally a nice pop to pictures with fabulous levels of detail, yet the 790 doesn’t fall in to the trap of looking over-processed like some LED TVs do. The excellent video processing means that even low quality content can be made to look palatable and whilst motion clarity could be better, there’s no distressing ghosting. If you really have to, you could engage the LA790’s interpolation engine but we’d only recommend using it with extremely fast moving action and with Blu-ray 1080p24 material it’s a complete no no.

    Whilst the native black levels aren’t really much to write home about, the local dimming works pretty well. We’ve seen LG slip up with their dimming algorithms in the past but mistakes appear to have been learned from and even sticking it in its highest setting doesn’t crush too much detail but it will result in a noticeable halo effect to bright objects on very dark backgrounds. In the end, we stuck with the Low setting as the best compromise between image preservation and a reasonably satisfying contrast performance. As we said on the Test Results page, about the only serious black mark against this sample was come fairly obvious panel array banding showing up with panning scenes involving solid blocks of colour; it did slightly mar our weekend of sporting viewing but we’ve seen much worse so we’d deem it as just about pardonable with everything else on offer considered.

    LG 47LA790W Picture Quality 3D

    As this reviewer generally finds with the passive approach, 3D images were fabulously bright, crosstalk and flicker free whilst not losing obvious detail or resolution when viewed from around 8 feet; a distance we’d suggest as sensible for 3D viewing to avoid feelings of discomfort with images with a lot of negative parallax (pop out). We couldn’t see the Black Matrix employed in the Film Pattern Retarder (FPR), commonly referred to as scan lines, from anything outside of 3 feet from the screen and we found the whole 3D experience to be thoroughly engaging. We’ve recently got our hands on the 3D Hobbit Blu-ray and the sense of depth and realism carried off by the LA790 representation of Jackson’s controversial, yet enjoyable, epic was mesmerising. We realise some don’t like passive technology, for one reason and another, but if you’ve yet to see it we’d recommend taking a look at what these LG’s can do.

    Video Review

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    OUT OF


    • Top notch colour performance
    • Excellent picture processing
    • Improved black levels and contrast
    • Magic Motion Remote is brilliant
    • Packed full of Smart features
    • Very user friendly
    • Well connected


    • Some array banding
    • 20pt White Balance Controls don't work properly
    You own this Total 4
    You want this Total 1
    You had this Total 0

    LG 47LA790W TV Review

    The focus of the manufacturers in 2013 for getting consumers to give their products a second glance on the showroom floor has undoubtedly been the trend for producing exotic looking base-stands. Ultra-thin bezels are old news and everybody is doing them and the LA790 is a fine example of that but we have to give credit to LG for producing a funky stand that does actually swivel; something very few other manufacturers have managed so far. Connectivity options are also where some of the others could follow LG’s lead, with the ‘requisite’ 4 HDMI ports present and correct here.

    LG’s redesigned Magic Motion Remote is a total triumph. We take back everything we ever said in the past about these supplemental controllers being nothing more than gimmicks and we found ourselves dispensing with the conventional controllers services in favour of this magic wand. Not only does it feature seamless gesture and button control, it can also act as a fully-fledged universal controller for almost any device you’re likely to have hooked up to it. That’s not to mention voice recognition that really works and isn’t wasted on pointless commands that are best suited to button tapping. An entire paragraph devoted to a remote control in the summary text should tell its own story.

    We’re going to cover LGs Smart platform in a dedicated review very shortly but the short version is that it’s terrific; it’s incredibly simple to use with an intuitive and customisable interface that’s packed full of video on demand services and various apps, games and diversions to keep the whole family entertained. LG have long done user interfaces well and the LA790’s is no exception with clearly set out menus that help the user along with helpful descriptions of the controls. Said controls include a very full calibration suite, although the 20 point White Balance isn’t quite functioning as it should. Still, even with the ‘basic’ 2 point White Balance sliders and a fully functioning CMS we were able to extract excellent accuracy.

    LG has clearly been doing some work to improve the native contrast performance of its IPS panels and whilst they’re still not anything like that of a good plasma, or one of the better LEDs, for dynamic range, it’s a definite step in the right direction and with the local dimming engaged in its mildest form, the LA790 managed to back up its superb colour palette with a fair amount of dynamism and pop. The video processing is typically superb and even low quality sources can be made acceptable but, of course, it’s with HD content where it truly dazzles. The only real complaint we had on the image quality was that we could notice some fairly obvious panel array banding toward the centre of the screen, under panning, when blocks of ‘solid’ colour were on-screen. It’s easily observable on football or golf, for example, so sports fans might want to take note.

    LG has obviously taken great care this year to produce a display that not only delivers on the bells and whistles – which the LA790 does to glorious effect – but also gets most of the fundamentals of picture quality right. It’s smart and sexy but also solid so it’s easily deserving of an AVForums Recommended Award.

    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £1,499.00

    The Rundown

    Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level


    Screen Uniformity


    Colour Accuracy


    Greyscale Accuracy


    Video Processing


    Picture Quality


    3D Picture Quality


    Sound Quality


    Smart Features


    Build Quality


    Ease Of Use


    Value for Money




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