LG 47LA860W TV Review
LG raises their game with the LA860
What is the LG 47LA860W?It's fair to say that LG's TVs struggled in our reviews last year, they just didn't offer a performance that justified their higher price tag. There were plenty of areas where the LG line-up was strong but in key areas like black levels and motion handling, they let themselves down. It seemed that in LG's rush to attract the higher-end customer, the Korean manufacturer forgot about the solid picture performance that had made their TVs so popular in the first place. When we took a look at our first LG this year - the 47LA790 - we were delighted to discover a great all-round performer that appeared to address many of last year's weaknesses. Now it's the turn of LG's 47LA860, which sits higher up the food chain and has a price tag to match. There's an impressive set of features on the LA860 but LG will need to seriously raise their game if they're to compete with Samsung's excellent F8000 and Sony's superb W90. Let's see if the 47LA860 has the chops...
Styling and DesignThe LA860 sports what LG refer to as their Cinema Screen design and whilst we're not sure it reminds us of an actual cinema screen, the minimalist appearance is certainly striking. In the past we've been critical of the current trend for a size zero bezel but over the course of our time, with the LA860, it grew on us. Whilst our arguments for having a wider black border around an image still stand, the design of the LA860 was actually quite effective.A new addition this year is the inclusion of a built-in camera for making Skype video calls. The camera is located at the top centre of the screen and is positioned to the rear, allowing you to push it up when you want to use it and then push it back down again when you're finished. This not only helps maintain the attractive lines of the TV itself but also acts as a security feature against any potential malicious hacking of the camera.The LA860 has a decent set of connections at the rear with four side facing HDMI inputs, three USB ports and a CAM slot. One of the HDMI inputs supports MHL (Mobile High-definition Link), whilst another supports ARC (Audio Return Channel) and one of the USB connections is 3.0 compatible. As always, the HDMI inputs are too close to the edge in our opinion, running the risk of ruining the sleek lines of the TV with poking out cables. However LG does include ties on each side of the stand to provide for cable management. On the downward facing connections panel are an Ethernet 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 LA860 comes with LG's Magic Remote and it really does deserve all the praise heaped on it by Mark in his review of the LA790. Whilst we remain sceptical of the touch pad remotes and voice or motion control features found on other manufacturers' TVs, the Magic Remote is a genuine game changer. It's just as well that we found the Magic Remote so easy to use because LG forgot to include any other remote with the review sample or perhaps it was a deliberate ploy to get us to use it.
...the Magic Remote is a genuine game changerEither way, within a matter of minutes we had adjusted to the pointer style remote and were flashing around the menus and smart features with wild abandon. Not only is it excellent for controlling the TV but it's a universal remote, allowing you to control other devices as well. The voice commands also really work and we’re pleased to see that LG are only using it for search features, rather than things like changing the volume which you can do quicker with your finger. Great work LG.
MenusIt's business as usual as far as the LG menus are concerned but then, if it ain't broke why fix it? We’ve always considered LG's user interface to be one of the best around and there's nothing about the menus on the LA860 that will change our mind. To access the Settings menu you need to navigate in from the Smart Home Screen but there's a Quick Menu button which lets you to get to various important settings, including the Picture Modes which include two ISF modes, where you'll find all the calibration controls you could wish for.
These include a Colour Management System (CMS) with full 6 axis 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. Other controls found in the Expert Control menu are the Dynamic Contrast, Super Resolution and Edge Enhancement options, all of which should be set to ‘Off’. The Picture Menu also contains all the standard controls of course, including Backlight, Contrast, Brightness and Colour and there are both vertical and horizontal Sharpness controls.
The LA860 includes 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.
FeaturesThere's already a detailed review of LG's Reference Status Smart TV System, which you can read here. So we'll just cover the basics in this section, starting with some of the new features. The LA860 includes built-in WiFi, WiFi Direct, Miracast and LG's new 'Tag On' feature. This uses Near Field Communication (NFC) to allow a fast and easy connection between your mobile device and the LA860. All you need to do is simply hold your smartphone or other NFC-enabled device against the NFC sticker on the LA860, the two devices will then automatically connect. Since the LA860 is a 3D TV, it includes four pairs of passive 3D glasses and two pairs of Dual Play glasses for LG's excellent two player gaming feature.
In terms of LG’s 2013 Smart TV System, it's accessed via the Home screen and is extremely good, highly usable and fast to navigate, especially using the Magic Remote. The content is 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 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. The LA860 is DLNA certified, so it has extensive networking, connection and sharing capabilities - all of which can be accessed from SmartShare. The LA860 offers extensive file support and it passed our new DivX Media Test Kit with absolutely no issues.
LG have launched the latest version of their remote app, which is freely available for both iOS and Android. The app is well designed, attractive and easy to use, with a second screen feature, a navigation controller, a touch pad, a QWERTY keyboard, content info and various settings. We found that the app worked very well and whilst not quite as interactive as some of competition, it does provide a viable alternative to the provided remote. Finally, the LA860 includes a built-in 2.1-channel asound system that delivers a solid, if not spectacular audio performance. There was clear dialogue and a reasonable sense of stereo separation, whilst the built-in subwoofer did help provide some lower frequency impact. There was some nice placement of effects across the front soundstage but the LA860 struggled at higher volumes and with music the audio could be decidedly bright.
Test ResultsIf there's one area where LG have been especially strong it's their out-of-the-box settings and calibration controls. They are to be congratulated for including extensive calibration features on even their cheapest TVs and for providing accurate presets, including two ISF picture modes. As is usually the case, the ISF picture modes proved to offer the best out-of-the-box starting point and thanks to LG's clear and concise menu system it is easy to go through the various picture controls and select the ones closest to the industry standards.
The graph on the left shows how red, green and blue are tracking relative to each other and what we're looking for are equal amounts. We used the Warm2 colour temperature setting, which gave us the best out-of-the-box performance, as shown above. There was a slight excess of green, which could be seen in the brighter parts of the image but overall this was an excellent [tip=Greyscale]greyscale[/tip] performance from the LA860. We also chose agamma setting of 2.2 and, as the graph shows, the gamma curve is tracking around this target, which is ideal for a TV in a normal lounge. Moving on to the colour gamut , we chose the BT709 setting which is intended to replicate the Rec.709 colour standard. As the right hand graph shows this setting was excellent, bordering on reference, with all the colours extremely close to their target coordinates. Once we've calibrated the greyscale, there will hardly be any work required to get the colour accuracy perfect.
We continued to use the ISF picture mode but now we calibrated the greyscale using the 2-point [tip=WhiteBal]white balance[/tip] control, before fine tuning with the 20-point version. We then used the [tip=CMS]colour management system[/tip] (CMS) to fine tune the colour accuracy, ensuring the image perfectly matched the industry standards.
As you can see on the graph above, the greyscale is now delivering a reference performance, with all three primary colours in equal amounts. In addition, the gamma is still tracking our 2.2 target curve. As a result the overall [tip=DeltaE]DeltaEs[/tip] (errors) are less than one which is essentially perfect. Although we commend LG for including such extensive calibration controls, a 20-point white balance borders on over-kill and a 10-point would easily suffice. In actual fact, given the out-of-the-box accuracy, the 2-point control was more than capable of delivering a reference level of accuracy.
Once we had calibrated the greyscale, the colour temperature was hitting its target of [tip=D65]D65[/tip], which is represented by the square in the middle of the triangle on the [tip=cie]CIE chart[/tip] above. The triangle itself is Rec.709 and as you can see, al the colours are fitting their targets. There was a tiny amount of under-saturation in red and magenta but the overall errors were all less than one, so the LA860 was delivery a reference level of colour accuracy.This level of colour accuracy extended to different saturation levels, as the graph above shows. The previous graphs were measured at a saturation of 100% but obviously the images we watch are rarely fully saturated, so the performance at lower saturation levels is equally, if not more, important. As the graph above shows, the LA860 performed extremely well in this area, with all the colours at or very close to their targets at all saturation points. The only point worth noting is some minor hue errors at 75% for green and magenta but otherwise this is an impressive performance. The superb level of colour accuracy was quite obvious when watching actual content, so congratulations to LG.
Whilst these numbers pale (pun intended) next to the kind of measurements seen on a plasma or even a VA panel, they're not bad for an IPS panel. The LA860 had plenty of brightness of course, easily hitting our target of 120cd/m2. The overall consistency of the measurements in the ANSI pattern above, reflect the generally uniform nature of the backlight. We found that the Local Dimming worked well on a Low setting, providing satisfying black levels. This setting eliminated any minor clouding that was present with Local Dimming turned off and it improved the black level without crushing detail. Although the screen uniformity was reasonably good, there was some minor panel array banding that was evident in camera pans. It was primarily noticeable in sport, where the camera would pan backwards and forwards over a uniform colour such as a green pitch. It certainly isn't a big problem but if you watch a lot of sport, you might want to bear it in mind.
The SMPTE 133 pattern revealed that the LA860 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 LA860 also had no problems in showing video text overlaid on film based material and also handled 24p content without any problems. Using the high and low tests on the Spears and Munsil disc we checked the dynamic range an the LA860 performed well. It managed to maintain shadow detail and was also able to go all the way up to peak white; it also showed all the detail in the three primary colour and white in the clipping test. We still aren’t keen on LG’s frame interpolation software and we could never find a compromise between creating cleaner looking resolution and not introducing video-like motion, so we left TruMotion off. However, overall the motion handling on the LA860 was a major improvement on last year.
The LA860 performed reasonably well when it came to gaming and was certainly a big improvement on last year's LG TVs. In previous generations, the LGs have struggled with very high input latency, even in the Game picture mode. This year we measured the LA860 at about 120ms when not in the Game picture mode but a much better 53ms when it was selected. Whilst this will undoubtedly still be too high for competitive gamers, it is certainly low enough for the majority of people and at least LG is heading in the right direction.
- Standby: 0W
The following measurements were taken with a full screen 50% white pattern:
- Out-of-the-Box – Normal Mode: 70W
- Calibrated – Professional Mode: 63W
- Calibrated - 3D Mode: 95W
LG 47LA860W Picture Quality 2DThe 2D performance of the LA860 could best be described as solid rather than exceptional, it does most things right and there's little to complain about but it didn't blow us away. Where it did excel was in terms of the out-of-the-box accuracy, which was obvious from the moment we turned it on. Once we had calibrated the picture to a reference level the results were excellent, with accurate and finely detailed images. The 2D Blu-ray of Oz the Great and Powerful proved a good test of the LA860's image fidelity with the opening black and white scenes, always a good test of greyscale, being free of any discolouration. Whilst the later Oz sequences are a riot of saturated detail, designed to deliberately mimic the look of Technicolor. Thanks to LG's always excellent video processing, the LA860 was capable of delivering an equally good performance with standard definition content as it was with high definition material. The motion handling was also very good for a LCD panel and there were none of the artefacts or ghosting that plagued last year's models. In fact the LA860 did a great job of delivering natural looking images and didn't fall into the LCD trap of appearing over-processed.
There LA860 could deliver plenty of brightness, without losing detail, so it performed extremely well during day time viewing and it was only at night that the limited dynamic range became apparent. The mediocre blacks on the LA860 we more obvious at night but thankfully the local dimming and some biased lighting helped. Previous generations of LG's local dimming algorithm has resulted in black crush and a loss of detail but these problems appear to have been addressed. In fact even in its highest setting, the local dimming didn't crush too much detail but there was a noticeable halo effect to bright objects on very dark backgrounds. Ultimately we found the Low setting provided the best compromise between image preservation and a reasonably satisfying contrast performance. The only other issue to mention was the presence of some panel array banding manifesting during panning scenes involving solid blocks of colour. It was never a big issue with the majority of viewing but is worth considering if you watch a lot of football. On the plus side, the backlight uniformity of our review sample was very good and whilst this can often be a lottery, it does seem that manufacturers are getting better at addressing this issue.
LG 47LA860W Picture Quality 3DWhilst 3D hasn't been quite the success the manufacturers had hoped for, if there's one company that has done well out of the format, it's probably LG. They initially went against the trend by using passive, or as they would preferred you called it, Cinema 3D rather than active shutter. As it turns out the the inherent advantages of passive 3D - cheap glasses, no batteries or recharging, no synching, no crosstalk and no flicker - outweighed the disadvantage of its lower resolution and the approach proved popular with consumers. LG's decision to avoid the term 'passive' probably helped too and now most manufacturers offer a passive form of 3D. We hadn't reviewed a passive 3D TV for a while and were delighted to be reminded how effective it is on a TV screen. The 3D was genuinely excellent with bright and flicker free images that are devoid of any crosstalk or other distractions, resulting in a highly immersive experience. The lower resolution of the passive approach really isn't an issue at any sensible viewing distance and we were never aware of it in any of our testing. Thanks to the accuracy and effectiveness of the 3D on the LA860, we thoroughly enjoyed our current three dimensional favourite - Oz the Great and Powerful. Sam Raimi wasn't afraid to use negative parallax in this movie and the LA860 replicated the experience with ease, filling the screen with eye-popping depth, especially during the tornado scene and the Oz sequences where the 3D effect is deliberately increased. Thank God there's at least one director brave enough to have fun with 3D!
- Excellent out-of-the-box accuracy
- Reference calibrated colour & greyscale
- Impressive picture processing
- Magic Remote is a winner
- Reference Smart TV features
- Well designed user interface
- Excellent connectivity
- Blacks could be better
- Some array banding
- Input lag still a bit high
LG 47LA860W TV Review
- It would seem that the Korean TV manufacturers are leading the way in terms of TV design and LG's 47LA860 is a good example. The size zero bezel, attractive stand, excellent build quality and superior finish certainly help justify the price tag. The resulting look is both stylish and contemporary and the LA860 would grace any modern living room. There's a good selection of connections at the rear, including four HDMI inputs with support for both ARC and MHL. New this year is the inclusion of a pop-up built-in camera which can be used for Skype video calls. The latest version of the Magic Remote is, well, magic and a real game changer in terms of how users interact with their TV. It's fast, effective, accurate and intuitive and made navigating the smart features easy and fun. The LA860 comes with four pairs of passive 3D glasses although, if you have any RealD glasses from the cinema lying around, they'll work too. There are also two pairs of glasses for LG's excellent Dual Play gaming feature.
LG's latest version of their Smart TV System has already deservedly won a Reference Status badge and shows many other manufacturers how it should be done. The layout is well designed and intuitive, whilst providing a degree of customisability. There is an excellent selection of apps and video-on-demand services, plus extensive networking and media playback capabilities. Along with built-in WiFi and WiDi, LG have added Miracast and their 'Tag On' feature which connects instantly with any device that supports NFC. As is always the case, LG's menu system is well designed, informative and easy to navigate; with extensive calibration controls including a 20-point white balance and a full CMS. The out-of-the-box accuracy was impressive and after calibration, the LA860 delivered a reference performance. The LG includes a built-in 2.1 audio system that whilst no match for a decent soundbar was certainly better sounding than many other slim-line TVs.
The picture performance was solid rather than exceptional but the out-of-the-box accuracy was immediately apparent and the calibrated images really impressed. The motion handling was a big improvement on last year and LG's video processing remains top notch, resulting in really good standard definition images. Overall the 2D pictures were bright, accurate and detailed and our only areas on complaint were some weak blacks and occasional array banding. However the backlight uniformity was good and the local dimming certainly helped with the blacks without crushing detail. The 3D performance was superb, with LG's passive approach proving why it has been popular with consumers, thanks to cheap easy to use glasses combined with bright and accurate images that are free of flicker and crosstalk. Ultimately the LG 46LA860 is a great all-round TV that provides a solid performance and a reference level of smart features, all wrapped up in a very attractive package.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £1,699.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level6
3D Picture Quality8
Ease Of Use9
Value for Money7
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