Ultra slim and ultra high definition
What is the LG UF950?The UF950 represents LG’s flagship Ultra HD 4K LED LCD TV for 2015 and as such it sits just below the EG960 OLED TV in their new range. The UF950V incorporates a striking design with an ultra-slim flat panel and LG’s new ‘auditorium’ stand, which has been designed to improve the sound quality. The Ultra HD 4K IPS panel includes ColourPrime for a wider colour space and a 4.2-channel speaker system designed by Harman Kardon. There is also the latest version of webOS, the Magic remote and support for passive 3D. The model we’re reviewing is the 55-inch 55UF950V which, at the time of writing (June 2015), will set you back £2,399. However there is also the 65-inch 65UF950V which costs around £3,399. The UF950 is going head-to-head with Samsung’s JS9000 but does the LG model provide sufficient performance, future-proofing and features to justify its price. Let’s find out…
DesignOne look at the UF950 and you can clearly see that LG are taking some of the design features developed for their ultra-slim OLED panels and porting them over to their LCD models. It’s remarkable that a TV manufacturer can produce an LCD panel this slim and still be able to back light it but LG have somehow managed. The Ultra HD 4K panel itself is flat and only 1cm deep, although as with the OLED TVs the chassis widens out to 4.8cm further down because you need somewhere to put the speakers, connections and electronics. The panel is bonded into a toughened chassis, with a strengthened back plate that is white in colour.
The front of the panel is a single sheet with a 1cm wide black border surrounding the screen. There is a silver trim around the outer edge and a 1cm wide silver strip along the bottom. The TV sits on a metal stand that uses LG’s new ‘auditorium’ design that includes a built-in slope to improve sound quality. The stand can’t be swivelled but thanks to the use of an IPS panel, this is less of an issue than it would be with some TVs. When you include the stand the 55UF950V measures 1236 x 722 x 240mm (WxHxD) and weighs in at 22.2kg. Overall this is an attractive-looking TV and the build quality is very good.
The UF950 is the thinnest LCD TV we have reviewed but the panel remains robust thanks to a decent level of build quality.
Connections & ControlsAll the connections on the UF950 are at the rear left of the panel and consist of four HDMI inputs (two of which support 4K), three USB ports and a CI (common interface) slot. These inputs are sideways facing and are 18cm from the edge, which is probably a bit close but you can still keep cables out of view. There are also a number of downwards facing inputs, including a series of legacy connections, satellite and aerial sockets for the built-in twin tuners, an RS232 connector for serial control, a headphone socket and an optical digital output. There's a LAN port for a wired Ethernet connection but, of course, the UF950V also includes built-in WiFi. At the rear you’ll also find the connector for the 1.5m long power cable, and the 400 x 400 VESA points for wall mounting.
As you would expect for a flagship LG TV the UF950 comes with their Magic remote and it remains one of the best designed and easiest to use controllers we have experienced. The ergonomically designed shape fits comfortably in the hand and the control interface is seamless. There are all the key buttons that you’ll need, along with navigation controls and a track wheel. However it’s the pointer function that is most effective and this compliments the webOS smart TV platform perfectly. LG have added a Settings button to make it easier to access the setup menus, although it remains a long-winded process. There’s also a voice control feature and a free remote app for those that would rather use their smart device as a controller.
55UF950 Features & SpecsThe UF950 uses an Ultra HD 4K IPS panel and includes LG’s ColourPrime light filtering technology for a wider native colour gamut. The UF950V also includes 4K upscaling and supports Ultra HD 4K streaming and HEVC decoding. LG use passive 3D on their TVs, thanks to the inclusion of an invisible polarised filter on the front of the screen. The UF950 comes with two pairs of polarised glasses, although if you have any RealD glasses that you brought back from the cinema, you can use those as well. The UF950V includes a 4.2-channel audio system engineered by Harman Kardon and uses LG’s new ‘auditorium’ stand to further improve the sound quality. Other features include the Magic Remote, the free remote app, the Freeview HD and satellite tuners, built-in WiFi, Miracast, WiDi and four HDMI inputs - with support for Ultra HD 4K, ARC and MHL.
The UF950 includes the latest version of LG's ground-breaking Smart+ system powered by webOS and, whilst not hugely different from last year, the system remains incredibly intuitive and easy to use. It’s now a bit faster and slicker in terms of its response and there's a new menu short-cut added to the right hand side of the screen that you access by pressing a dedicated button on the remote. Otherwise it's the same as last year, so if you scroll to the left, you go backwards through the apps you have previously opened and if you scroll to the right you can access all the available apps. There is no need to close one app or go to another page to access an app and since everything including all the inputs are treated as apps, navigating from one to the other is simple, making webOS feel like an integral part of the TV. You can read a more detailed review of WebOS 2.0 here.
Whilst webOS 2.0 doesn’t differ much from last year, it remains a hugely intuitive approach to Smart TV and has clearly been influential.
Picture SettingsAs with all of LG's TVs, we would recommend using either of the ISF modes because they usually deliver the most accurate out-of-the-box measurements. They also default to the settings closest to the industry standards and turn off a lot of the unwanted 'special features'. As the measurements below show, if you follow some basic setup guidelines, the UF950 can deliver a very accurate image right out-of-the-box.
We used a backlight setting of 40, a contrast setting of 80 and left the brightness control at its default setting of 50. We left the sharpness controls at their default settings of 10, the colour control at 50 and the tint control at zero. We chose the standard colour gamut and a gamma of 2.2 but turned off dynamic contrast, super resolution and edge enhancer. We left the black level at low, set LED local dimming to low and turned off the noise reduction and TruMotion features.
Since every TV and viewing environment is different, just copying someone else’s detailed settings doesn't guarantee a better picture and might actually prove detrimental. Instead we would suggest that you follow our PicturePerfect Guide, however if you do want to try our suggested picture settings for the sample of the 55UF950V we reviewed, you’ll find them in this video:
Pre-CalibrationAs has been the case quite often with the TVs we have reviewed this year, the UF950 delivered an excellent performance out-of-the-box. After completing the basic setup we described in the picture settings section above, we measured a very accurate greyscale. There was a slight excess of blue and deficit of red in the brighter part of the image but errors were all below the threshold of three and most were below two. The gamma was also very good, tracking around our 2.2 target.
The colour performance was equally as impressive, with all the colours except blue having overall errors that were well below three. The was an error in the luminance (brightness) of blue and also a slight under-saturation in magenta but neither were apparent with actual viewing material. Overall this was a great out-of-the-box performance and given the extensive calibration controls that LG have included on the UF950V, we would expect to improve on this initial accuracy.
Post CalibrationLG include a two- and a twenty-point white balance control and whilst we applaud their ambition, we would probably be just as happy with a ten-point control, especially as we have to keep going in and out of the menus which is a laborious process. However at least the controls work better this year and we were quickly able to dial in a reference performance for the greyscale, with errors all below one and gamma still tracking at our 2.2 target.
Last year we had problems using LG’s CMS (colour management system) but they appear to have fixed any issues and on the the UF950 we were able to dial in a reference colour performance. There was only a slight under-saturation in magenta that we were unable to correct with the CMS but all the other measurements were excellent and the overall errors were all well below one. This is a great all-round performance and we’re glad to see LG have listened to feedback.
This impressive performance also extended to the colours when measured at lower saturation points. In fact all the colours were at or very close to their targets for 25, 50 and 75% saturation, including magenta, and only some minor under-saturation in red worth mentioning. LG’s ColourPrime filter technology does increase the colour gamut but since it isn’t quantum dot, the UF950 couldn’t get as close to DCI as the flagship Samsung TV’s we have measured recently.
The out-of-the-box measurements were excellent and, unlike last year, the calibration controls helped deliver a reference performance.
Input LagLG have made big improvements in terms of input lag this year and the UF950 delivered the lowest measurements we have recorded from one of their TVs to date. In the calibrated ISF mode we measured a lag of 52ms using our dedicated testing device and in the Game mode we measured the lag at 35ms. Whilst not quite as low as Samsung, this is still very good for an Ultra HD TV and should certainly be low enough for most people. We found gaming to be quite responsive and overall it was an enjoyable experience on the UF950V. In terms of setting up the Game mode, we would recommend using similar settings to the ones we suggested in the picture settings section above.
Sound QualityAlthough the UF950 uses an ultra-thin panel, it is wider at the bottom where the speakers are housed. Thanks to built-in Harman Kardon 4.2-channel audio system and the ‘auditorium’ stand, the sound quality was surprisingly good. Despite the downward-firing speakers being installed in an area only 4.8cm deep, the UF950V created a decent front soundstage and a reasonable sense of stereo separation. The 60W of built-in amplification were also quite effective, meaning the LG could go reasonably loud without distorting. The UF950 reproduced dialogue with clarity, whilst music and effects are also well rendered, resulting in a great all-round performance. Whilst we would generally recommend you use some form of outboard audio solution, you might find that the built-in speakers on the UF950V are good enough for most people’s needs.
LG 55UF950V Video Review
The UF950 delivered a very solid all-round performance and it was only occasional issues with the backlight that marred an otherwise great picture.
LG UF950V Picture QualityDue to the ultra-thin nature of the UF950 the LEDs are positioned at the bottom of the panel, which could potentially cause problems with the backlight. It’s incredible that LG can actually light a panel this thin and we were pleased to see that despite the inherent issues this approach might cause, the backlight was surprisingly even on our review sample. There was some minor clouding, although this really wasn’t visible with the local dimming turned on and there was none of the banding that often plagues TVs that use direct LED backlights.
Video ProcessingLG have always been strong in this area and the video processing on the UF950 was as impressive as we have come to expect from the manufacturer. Good video processing is more important than ever because the majority of content that you are watching on your Ultra HD 4K TV will be upscaled to match the higher resolution of the panel. As such, the better the video processing, the more impressive the image with high definition and even standard definition content. Overall the LG delivered a fantastic performance, scaling content effectively without introducing any obvious artefacts. The UF950V passed all of our usual video processing tests and overall the quality of the deinterlacing and scaling was excellent.
Motion HandlingWe used our FPD Benchmark test disc to test the motion resolution of the UF950 and, as we would expect from an LCD TV, it was measuring at around 300 lines. This could be improved by turning TruMotion on but the result is a picture that looks unnaturally smooth, especially with film content, and we could see artefacts in some of our test material. This was true regardless of whether we chose Smooth or Clear and although you could experiment with the User TruMotion settings on something like football, we were perfectly happy watching all of our content with TruMotion turned off.
Black Levels & Contrast RatioAs with all LG LCD TVs the UF950 uses an IPS panel, which means a much wider optimal viewing angle than a VA panel but less impressive native blacks. Although the UF950V doesn't currently support High Dynamic Range (HDR) it is very bright and could hit 342cd/m2 with the backlight and contrast maxed out. We measured a native ANSI contrast ratio of 993:1 with local dimming off but thankfully the perceived black levels improved when the local dimming was engaged. We found that the Low setting gave improved blacks, a better contrast ratio and dynamic range and helped to mask any unevenness in the backlight. It also managed to do this without creating too many unwanted artefacts or any banding with camera pans. However the position of the LEDs at the bottom of the panel meant that in certain circumstances you were aware of a column of light. This was especially true with white credits against a black background, although watching most content it wasn't really apparent and the UF950 produced impressive images in the majority of viewing environments.
Ultra HD 4K PerformanceAt present the amount of native Ultra HD 4K content remains limited, although if you have a fast enough broadband connection then there is a growing catalogue of titles on Netflix and Amazon Prime. For our testing we use native 4K content that was captured using a Panasonic GH4 camera and on the UF950 this footage looked superb, with a remarkable level of detail and a lovely natural appearance. As we went through the various clips the images were bright and accurate, there were no signs of artefacts or sharpening and the motion handling was excellent.
The big question mark that hangs over the UF950V is how it will handle the new standards for UHD broadcast and UHD Blu-ray. The LG currently doesn’t support High Dynamic Range (HDR), although it is very bright and it’s possible that support could be added by way of a firmware update later. The UF950 doesn’t use quantum dot either, so although it has a wider native colour space than Rec.709, it can’t get as wide as the flagship Samsung and Panasonic TVs. We believe that the panel does support 10-bit video but LG have been vague on the exact specifications of the HDMI inputs. Given the importance of future-proofing on a flagship UHD TV, we have asked LG for clarification on all these points.
Full HD PerformanceThanks to the accurate greyscale and colour gamut, along with the excellent video processing, the UF950 produced some very impressive images with Full HD content. We found that since the image is always being upscaled to the higher native resolution of the panel, a bit of sharpening has its advantages, especially with standard definition content. However with high definition broadcasts the UF950V could deliver some very impressive images and this only got better once we moved on to Blu-rays.
The bright picture, the accurate image and excellent local dimming all played their part, resulting in an excellent picture, especially during the day. The LG could also look very good at night but we would definitely recommend some bias lighting in the room or the issue with the LEDs being at the bottom of the panel becomes more obvious. However, overall the 55UF950V delivered an impressive all-round picture that looks great in the majority of viewing environments.
3D PerformanceIf there's one area where LG Ultra HD TVs really excel it's 3D because the combination of passive technology and the 4K panel results in a full 1080p to each eye. As a result the 3D images are very detailed, extremely bright and free of any flicker or crosstalk. If you're a fan of 3D, then buying a passive 4K panel can be reason enough because the results are so good and thanks to the use of passive 3D you can get hold of plenty of glasses for almost nothing. In fact you can just use the RealD glasses from the cinema and the other advantage is that they don't need batteries or recharging.
Once you include the wide viewing angles on the UF950, then you have fantastic 3D that all the family can easily and cheaply enjoy. Just be careful about mounting the TV too high, because the passive filter on the front of the screen does limit effective vertical viewing angles with 3D. However once you've got your UF950 setup you'll be in for a 3D treat with images that reveal plenty of depth and pop. The local dimming and video processing also play their part and watching old favourites like Gravity and Avatar or new purchases like Big Hero 6 revealed superb 3D images that were a pleasure to behold.
How future-proof is this TV?
4K Ultra HD Resolution HDR Support Colour Space (percentage of DCI - 100% best) 80% 10-bit Panel HDMI 2.0a Inputs HDCP 2.2 Support HEVC Decoding 4K Streaming Services Smart TV Platform Picture Accuracy Out-of-the-Box (score out of 10) 9 What do these mean?
- Accurate picture
- Excellent video processing
- Great local dimming
- Wide viewing angles
- Decent sound
- Low input lag
- Superb features
- Impressive 3D
- Attractive design
- Good build quality
- Mediocre blacks
- Some artefacts due to position of LEDs
- Limited future proofing
LG 55UF950V (UF950) UHD 4K LED TV Review
Should I buy one?The 55UF950V certainly delivers a very solid all-round performance and there is a lot about this TV that is worthy of recommendation. The design is definitely striking and although you might question the need for an LCD panel this thin, there's no denying that the UF950 is both attractive and well built. It's also decidedly flat, making it a good choice for those who have yet to be convinced by the allure of the curve. The out-of-the-box image accuracy is excellent and we're glad to see that LG have fixed the bugs with the calibration controls, allowing us to get reference measurements from the UF950V. When you combined the accurate and natural images with the Ultra HD panel and excellent video processing the results were impressive. Since this is an IPS panel the native black levels were fairly mediocre but the local dimming worked well and the viewing angles were very wide.
Our only real complaint would be that because the LEDs are positioned at the bottom of the panel, there were occasional columns of light when using the local dimming. In terms of other features, the UF950 has everything you would expect from a flagship model. Since this is an LG TV there's passive 3D included and thanks to the 4K panel it looks superb. There's a surprisingly good level of sound quality thanks to the built-in Harman Kardon audio system and the new 'auditorium' stand. The webOS powered Smart TV platform remains as effective and intuitive as ever and the Magic remote is still a joy to use. LG have made great strides in improving the input lag on their latest TVs and the UF950V delivered their lowest measurement to date, making it great for gaming. In fact for just about any viewing environment the LG 55UF950V makes a great all-rounder with an accurate picture and plenty of features.
What are the alternatives?The majority of TV manufacturers have been slow to release their new models this year which means that, at the moment, the UF950 is primarily going head-to-head with Samsung's JS9000. The latter is a few hundred pounds more expensive but it does deliver a greater degree of future-proofing and it isn't hampered by an ultra-thin panel. Of course it is curved, which won't be to everyone's taste, and the viewing angles are very narrow but the JS9000 can deliver a superb picture and already supports the upcoming UHD standards. Whilst both TVs have their strengths and weaknesses, it's how well they handle these new standards that will ultimately decide their fate. The UF950V doesn't currently support High Dynamic Range (HDR), it doesn't use quantum dot and we have asked LG to clarify the actual specifications of the HDMI inputs. So, as it stands, the Samsung JS9000 has the edge.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level7
2D Picture Quality8
3D Picture Quality9
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box9
Picture Quality Calibrated10
Ease Of Use9
Value for Money8
Our Review Ethos
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