Big screen Ultra HD 4K at an attractive price
What is the LG UF850?The UF850 is LG's mid-tier LED LCD TV, sitting just below the flagship UF950 in their range for this year. The big difference between the two models is that the UF850V doesn't use the ultra-slim panel found on the more expensive model. Although this isn't necessarily a bad thing because the UF950V was hampered by only having LEDs at the bottom of the screen. The UF850 should have a more effective backlight thanks to its marginally deeper panel. The UF850V also uses LG's 'ribbon' stand, rather than the new 'auditorium' design, a less powerful speaker system and it loses one HDMI input but otherwise it appears to include very similar features and specs to the UF950. So you get an Ultra HD 4K IPS panel, WebOS, the Magic remote and support for passive 3D.
The model we’re reviewing is the 65-inch 65UF850V which, at the time of writing (June 2015), will set you back £2,199. However there is also the 55-inch 55UF850V which costs around £1,399. Those are some fairly tempting prices but does the UF850 deliver a performance to match?
DesignThe UF850 sports a fairly traditional design with a 1cm wide black bezel around the single sheet screen and a 1cm wide black strip along the bottom. Beneath this is a 1cm wide silver strip and between the two there's a slot which fires the sound forward. The panel sits on LG's 'ribbon' stand, which has been designed to improve the sound quality, it's attractive and the inner part has ridges on it to prevent reflections. However you'll need a put the UF850 on a surface at least 120cm wide for the TV to be secure.
The chassis might be deeper than LG's flagship UF950 but it's still fairly slim, measuring around 3cm deep at the top and 5cm at the bottom where the speakers are housed. There's a black border 1cm wide around the outer edge and behind this a silver border that's also about 1cm wide. At the rear are the 400 x 400 VESA mounts, all the connections and the three-pin socket for the included 1.5m long power cable. The 65UF850 measures 1454 x 903 x 276mm (WxHxD) with the stand included and weighs 32.8kgs.
The UF850 is well made with a classic design and an attractive 'ribbon' stand.
Connections & ControlsIn terms of connections there are three HDMI inputs (two of which support 4K), three USB ports and a CI (common interface) slot. These inputs are sideways facing and are 36cm from the edge, which is good to see. There are also a number of rearwards facing inputs, including a series of legacy connections, satellite and aerial sockets for the built-in 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, although the UF850 also includes built-in WiFi.
The UF850 includes LG's Magic remote, which remains one of the best designed and easiest to use controllers currently available. It's ergonomically shaped, fits comfortably in the hand and the control interface is highly effective. All the key buttons are included, along with navigation controls and a track wheel. The pointer function is precise and accurate, complimenting the WebOS smart TV platform. LG have added a Settings button to make it easier to access the setup menus, although it still 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.
65UF850 Features & SpecsThe UF850 uses an Ultra HD 4K IPS panel, that also includes 4K upscaling and supports Ultra HD 4K streaming and HEVC decoding. LG continue to support passive 3D on their TVs and the UF850 comes with two pairs of polarised glasses. Although if you've got any you brought back from the cinema, you can also use those. The UF850V uses a 2-channel sound system engineered by Harman Kardon and includes LG’s 'ribbon' stand to further enhance the audio. Other features include the Magic Remote, the free remote app for iOS and Android, Freeview HD and satellite tuners and built-in WiFi, along with support for Miracast and WiDi.
This year LG are including WebOS 2.0 on their TVs, which is the latest iteration of their award-winning Smart+ platform. The system remains highly intuitive and very easy to use. This year the system is slightly more responsive and there's a new menu short-cut added to the right hand side of the screen. Aside from these minor changes, it's the same system as last year, so there's no need to close one app or go to another page to access an app. In fact every aspect of the TV is treated as an app and 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. You can read a more detailed review of WebOS 2.0 here.
LG's WebOS may have been copied by other manufacturers this year but the original remains the best.
Picture SettingsSince LG include ISF modes on their TVs, we usually recommend you select one of these because they should deliver the most accurate out-of-the-box measurements. We used a backlight setting of 40, a contrast setting of 80 and left the brightness control at its default setting of 50. We dropped the sharpness controls down to zero and left the colour and tint controls at their default. 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 65UF850V we reviewed, you’ll find them in this video:
Pre-CalibrationThis year, all the manufacturers have been delivering surprisingly good out-of-the-box performances and whilst the UF850 isn't as impressive as its more expensive sibling, it was still capable of a reasonable level of accuracy. The greyscale was very good, with only a deficit of red in the brightest part of the image resulting in an error over the threshold of three. The gamma was tracking around our target of 2.2, aside from a slight dip at 10IRE.
The colour performance wasn't quite as good, with four of the colours having luminance measurements well below their targets and robbing the image of some of its impact. Aside from the issues with luminance the rest of the colour measurements were actually very good with almost all the saturation and tint errors at or below three. The deficit of red in the greyscale was evidenced by the measurement of white skewing slightly towards blue, although this was only minor.
Post CalibrationThe UF850 comes with a two- and a twenty-point white balance control, so we were able to adjust with the two-point, essentially adding red to the greyscale, and then fine-tune with the twenty-point. Whether a domestic TV really needs a twenty-point white balance control is debatable but at least it works and we were able to calibrate a reference performance. The gamma curve remained the same, with the majority of measurements tracking around 2.2 aside from a slight dip at 10IRE.
We're glad to report that the colour management system (CMS) on this year's LG TVs works much better than on previous models and we were able to calibrate a very accurate colour gamut. It wasn't quite perfect, there was still an error in the luminance of blue and a slight undersaturation of red that we couldn't quite correct. However overall this was an excellent all-round performance and with actual viewing content the UF850 delivered an accurate image.
The UF850 doesn't have the ColourPrime filter found on the more expensive UF950 and as such the colour accuracy isn't as good, or the colour gamut as wide, as on the more expensive model. In terms of greyscale and colour performance, the two were similar, although the UF950 was superior. However in terms of colour accuracy at lower saturation points the UF950 was much better and the UF850 struggled in terms of the primary colours hitting their targets at 25, 50 and 75%.
Not as accurate out-of-the-box as other TVs we've tested but excellent after calibration.
Input LagIf there's one area where LG have made serious improvements this year, it's in terms of the input lag on their TVs. We measured the UF850 at 49ms in one of the ISF modes and 47ms in the dedicated Game mode. We tried renaming the input but that didn't appear to make any difference. Although 47ms isn't as low as some other manufacturers this year, or even the UF950 for that matter, it's still a huge improvement on previous years.
As a result of this lower input lag the gaming experience on the UF850 was very enjoyable, with a big and punchy image that had been effectively upscaled to the native resolution of the panel itself. We found that the responsiveness of games was certainly quick enough for us and although dedicated gamers may demand a lower input lag, we feel that the UF850 should be fast enough for most people.
Sound QualityThe larger screen size and deeper chassis on the UF850 really helped in terms of the audio performance and thanks to the Harman Kardon 2-channel audio system and the ‘ribbon’ stand, the sound quality was surprisingly good. The use of forward-firing drivers, along with the greater width, resulted in a decent front soundstage and a good sense of stereo separation. The 20W of built-in amplification were reasonably effective but you wouldn't want to push the volume too high or the sound became harsh and brittle. The UF850 managed to reproduce dialogue clearly, whilst music and effects are also well handled, resulting in a good overall performance. We would still recommend an outboard audio solution such as a soundbar but if you have to use the built-in speakers, the UF850 will be able to deliver passable sound quality.
LG 65UF850V Video Review
Although not quite as accurate as LG's flagship TV, the cheaper UF850 provided a very solid all-round performance.
LG UF850V Picture QualityUnlike the more expensive UF950, the UF850 uses a deeper chassis, which means that its backlight performance isn't hampered by an ultra-thin design. As a result the backlight uniformity on the UF850 was very good, with no apparent clouding, no bright corners and no glowing edges. In fact our only complaint as far as LG's mid-level model is concerned is that there was occasional banding on camera pans across a uniform background. As usual this was most apparent during football matches, so if you watch a lot of sport it would be best to demo the UF850 with some football footage before buying.
Video ProcessingAs always, LG remain strong in the area of video processing and the UF850 delivered the kind of performance we have come to expect from the Korean manufacturer. Since the UF850 is an Ultra HD TV, the video processing is essential because the majority of content that you are watching will be upscaled to match the higher resolution of the panel itself. This means that the better the video processing the more impressive the image, not just from high definition content but also from standard definition, which a lot of people still watch.The UF850 delivered a great performance, scaling content effectively without introducing any obvious artefacts. The UF850V passed all of our usual video processing tests and overall the quality of the deinterlacing and scaling was excellent.
Motion HandlingWe test the motion resolution of TVs using the FPD Benchmark test disc and, as we would expect from an LCD TV, the UF850 delivered around 300 lines. This could be improved by turning TruMotion on but the resulting picture looks unnaturally smooth, especially with film content, and we could see artefacts in some of our test material. This was this the case regardless of whether we chose Smooth or Clear and although there is room to experiment with the User settings on something like football, we were perfectly happy watching all of our content with TruMotion turned off.
Black Levels & Contrast RatioSince the UF850 is an LG TV it uses an IPS panel, which means it has a wide viewing angle but does have mediocre native black levels. We measured 0IRE at 0.12cd/m2, so with 100IRE set to our target of 120cd/m2 we got an on/off contrast ratio of 1000:1. This is poor, even for an LCD TV and the ANSI contrast ratio was only 540:1, so you really need to engage the LED local dimming. Once you select the Low setting things immediately improve and we measured 0IRE at 0.005cd/m2. We generally found that using Low was sufficient, delivering a much improved contrast performance without losing detail in shadows or introducing excessive haloing. The UF850 could go very bright, measuring 423cd/m2 with everything maxed out in dynamic mode but this TV doesn't support High Dynamic Range (HDR) and as far we know, LG have no intention of adding HDR to the UF850.
Ultra HD 4K PerformanceThe UF850 looked great with the 4K content that we currently use for testing and the bright images were simply bursting with detail. You can also watch 4K content on streaming service providers like Netflix and Amazon Prime, assuming you have a fast enough broadband connection. However, like many of the UHD TVs currently available, there are question marks over how the UF850 will handle the proposed new standards for UHD broadcast and UHD Blu-ray. As mentioned in the previous section it doesn’t support HDR nor does it use quantum dot, so it can't produce a wide enough colour space. We believe that the panel does support 10-bit video but LG have been vague on the exact specifications of the HDMI inputs, despite us directly asking them.
Full HD PerformanceWhilst Ultra HD 4K is important, the majority of your viewing will still be Full HD for the foreseeable future and thankfully the UF850 delivered a great performance in this area. The combination of a largely accurate image and excellent video processing that took full advantage of the native resolution of the panel delivered great-looking pictures. The images were bright and although the primary colours could be a little muted at times, the UF850 was still capable of impressing with the best high definition broadcasts. The local dimming also did its job well, improving the perceived black levels but also retaining shadow detail. Whilst watching the BBC drama Stonemouth, there was a difficult scene with fireworks at night, which the UF850 handled very well. The same was true of Blu-rays, with recent purchases like Jupiter Ascending looking absolutely stunning on the LG. It might only be a mid-tier model but it handled the detailed and vibrant images of the Wachowski's bonkers sci-fi epic with ease and proved to be a very competent all-round performer.
3D PerformanceThe UF850's native 4K panel means that it can deliver passive 3D with a full 1080p for each eye, as a result the images it produced were excellent. The 3D was very detailed, extremely bright and free of any flicker or crosstalk. If that wasn't enough, the use of passive 3D means you can use any RealD glasses you might of brought back from the cinema and there's no batteries or recharging involved. The UF850 doesn't quite get a perfect score because there was banding sometimes visible but overall the 3D was fantastic, with images that revealed plenty of depth and pop. The local dimming and video processing also play their part and watching old favourites like Hugo and new purchases like Big Hero 6 revealed superb 3D images that were a pleasure to behold. If you're a fan of 3D then a solid TV like the UF850 is sure to please.
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) 8 What do these mean?
- Accurate picture after calibration
- Excellent video processing
- Effective local dimming
- Wide viewing angles
- Decent sound
- Impressive features
- Superb 3D
- Attractive design
- Good build quality
- Mediocre blacks
- Occasional banding artefacts
- Limited future proofing
LG 65UF850V (UF850) UHD 4K LED TV Review
Should I buy one?The LG UF850V is a mid-range TV that is designed to offer an attractive design, a decent level of build quality and a solid all-round performance. In that sense it is a resounding success, with a classic appearance that uses a reasonably slim panel and a few touches of silver to stand out from the predominantly black colour scheme. The build quality is very good and the 'ribbon' stand looks attractive, although you will need a wide surface on which to install the TV. There are plenty of connections, the features are extensive and WebOS remains as impressive as ever. Thanks to the larger screen size and the 'ribbon' stand, the audio performance is surprisingly good, whilst the input lag will be low enough for most people.
In terms of the image quality, the out-of-the-box accuracy was good but could have been better, although the calibration controls were very effective. The UF850 could have performed better at lower saturation points, so colours sometimes appeared a little muted, but the general level of accuracy and excellent video processing resulted in decent pictures. The black levels were never going to be great but the viewing angles are extremely wide and the local dimming was effective. The panel uniformity was generally very good, although there was occasional banding on camera pans. However the 65UF850V can deliver bright, accurate and detailed images that are sure to please and the passive 3D was superb for those that are still interested.
What are my alternatives?This has been a strange year, with many of the major TV manufacturers only just starting to release their new line-ups. As such we have yet to see anything from Sony or Philips and have only reviewed the flagship CX802 from Panasonic. So if you're not tempted to take a look at LG's flagship UF950V or their superb EG960V OLED TV, then the obvious alternative is Samsung. The JU6400 is a similar price and offers an equally extensive set of features and an impressive level of picture quality. However it doesn't include a local dimming system and has a limited optimal viewing angle so, depending on your needs, the UF850 might be preferable. If you do decide to go for LG's 65UF850V you certainly won't be disappointed and as long as you can accept a limited amount of future-proofing, it's definitely worth putting on your short list.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level7
2D Picture Quality8
3D Picture Quality9
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box8
Picture Quality Calibrated9
Ease Of Use9
Value for Money9
Our Review Ethos
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