LG LM660 (42LM660T) 3D LED LCD TV Review

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We take a look at LG's mid-range Cinema 3D LM660T

by Mark Hodgkinson Jun 15, 2012 at 12:00 AM

  • TV review

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    LG LM660 (42LM660T) 3D LED LCD TV Review
    SRP: £999.00

    Introduction

    On the face of it, the LG 42LM660T is ostensibly the same TV as the 47LM670T we reviewed recently, with some minor cosmetic differences. It’s not always as simple as that, however, and changes in software versions and panel sizes sometimes means there will be some differences. Were it not for some trailing issues, the LM670 would have been a shoe-in for a recommendation so we’re hoping some changes have been made in the interim.

    As with the LM670, the 660 lacks very little in terms of specification and features from the high-end LM860 and LM960 we’ve also reviewed, with just a reduced backlight modulation frequency and lack of dual core processing worth mentioning. It’s one of LG’s Cinema 3D TVs, packs in all the Smart TV options we’ve come to expect and it also has Freeview HD and built-in WI-FI to bring to the table.

    Design and Connections

    The LG 42LM660T is another thing of beauty from the Koreans, in fact we think it’s probably their best so far in 2012, and the fact it’s predominantly black in colour certainly finds favour here. The bezel is extremely slender, measuring just over 1cm at the top and sides, with a broader bottom featuring a chrome effect, under the black, that houses the power light indicator and infra-red sensor. The one slight disappointment, when compared to the publicity shots, is that the ‘Ribbon’ stand looks decidedly less impressive in the flesh; we like its design but the gloss black finish looks far cheaper than that of the silver effect LM670.



    The supplied standard remote control is exactly the same as the 670’s and doesn’t feature the backlight or the glow-in-the-dark buttons of the 860 and 960. The new SETTINGS button makes accessing the Picture controls far easier than in last year’s LG’s. There’s a recess to the rear for your index finger making it nicely ergonomic 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.

    Also in the box is LGs redesigned Magic Motion Remote Control, that now features a very nifty little scroll wheel for zipping through the Home page. It’s very simply laid out with just 9 buttons on the face, including vol/channel up and down, Standby, 3D, Home and Back. We’re certainly not sold on it as a replacement for a conventional controller for ‘traditional’ TV activities but we like it for the Smart functions.

    The LG 42LM660T features the ‘de facto’ 4 HDMI side ports which are side-facing along with 3 USB ports and a CAM slot. The HDMI ports are only about 7cm from the edge of the bezel, which is too close for comfort, so you may need to consider angled cables or adapters to keep those wires hidden. Running across the downward facing connections panel there is a LAN port; D-SUB PC in with audio jack; the aerial connection; a headphone jack; connections for the supplied adapters for Scart, Component and Composite sources and an S/PDIF digital audio out

    The LG 42LM660T features the ‘de facto’ 4 HDMI side ports


    Menus

    The Menus are identical in content to the LM670 and more or less the same as those of the 860 and 960 we’ve already covered, at length, so we’ll restrict this section to the picture effecting items. The LG 42LM660T has a number of Picture Modes – Intelligent sensor, Vivid, Standard, Cinema, Game, isf Expert1, isf Expert2 – with the isf and Cinema modes providing the most accurate pictures out of the box. All the standard Backlight, Contrast, Brightness and Colour controls are present plus both vertical and horizontal Sharpness controls that we left at default in the Expert modes.


    The new 6-Axis 3D Colour Management System (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. 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 Options area houses settings for the Tru-Motion, Real Cinema and LED Local Dimming options that will be discussed later in the review.

    Note: We had to download a Software update for the Tru Motion controls to become apparent in the menus, so if your LM670 isn’t showing them you will need to update over the network or via USB from a file on the LG support website.


    Features

    LG’s new GUI for their Home page is absolutely first class. Navigation is extremely swift, especially using the Magic Motion controller, and the content is all easily accessible thanks to the ‘card’ style format for the different categories – Premium, 3D World, LG Smart World and Smart Share. Should you have a favourite app, it can be added to My Apps which will see it included in a bar at the bottom of the Home page as a shortcut.


    LG has upgraded their previous 3D Zone Smart TV app to become the 3D World card and there are around 70 items to watch encompassing entertainment, sports, documentary, kids, and lifestyle. There’s most of the usual 2D video on demand suspects in there too but BBC iPlayer is not yet functioning with the 2012 LGs and Netflix has yet to be added but there’s the likes YouTube, Demand 5 and Lovefilm. There’s Facebook, Twitter and Skype video calling too provided the optional AN-VC400 camera/mic attachment is purchased. Users can hook up a hard drive to record from the internal tuners, engage in a reasonably non-frustrating spot of web browsing and, 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 LM670 will happily communicate with smartphones and tablets provided they’re equipped with the relevant – and free – app.

    Test Results

    It’s almost 12 months since we reviewed the LM660’s predecessor, the LM650T and we’re having a case of déjà vu. The 650 produced one of the most stunning out-of-the-box performances we’d seen in a TV, with a reference greyscale and gamut response. The LG 42LM660 actually did better! With DeltaE (errors) all below one, we’re well beyond the point where our eyes could perceive any lack of neutrality. There’s nothing left to say here really other than if LG are capable of replicating this kind of performance in mass production numbers, hats off to them!

    We were able to marginally - and we mean a tiny amount – improve greyscale at the lower end but the resultant RGB Balance and Gamma Graphs aren’t really worth the page space, so similar are they to the pre-calibration charts.

    In terms of the colour reproduction, as we suspected it wasn’t possible to move red away from its slightly orange state but we were able to fix the small luminance errors and bring magenta more on hue. In all honesty, on screen material looked almost identical but its always good to know you’ve got it as accurate as you possibly can.

    Picture Processing

    The LG 42LM660T behaved in an absolutely identical fashion to the 47LM670 here so we’ll make no apologies for the inevitable repetition. As with what went before, the LM660 aces most of the standard set of testing and scaled standard definition extremely crisply, picked up on nearly every film cadence thrown at it and deniterlaced video content in both SD and HD signals extremely well but, again, certain patterns did highlight issues they’re not really intended to show.

    The Jaggies test on both the Spears and Munsil and HQV discs displayed a lot of artefacting on the moving bar when the signal was set at 50Hz, which bore out our experiences with watching fast paced sports from a 1080i50 broadcast source. With real world content that would manifest as black trails and ghosting artefacts. We’re used to seeing these kind of effects when motion interpolation engines are used but the Tru Motion settings had been left off for these tests. Interestingly, switching the signal to 60Hz instantly cleaned up the artefacting and points to issues with the 50Hz processing. LG, themselves, think the trailing issues are as a result of some problems with the overdrive technology implemented, which is kind of ironic given overdrive is intended to improve panel response and thus motion clarity.

    It didn’t stop there, unfortunately, and there were also issues with 1080p24 playback, i.e. most Blu-rays. The LM660 had problems with the Wedge Pattern test on the Spears and Munsil disc with the 24p cadence. The pattern is comprised of two wedges made up of alternating fine black and white lines that move around the screen. The lines are supposed to stay stable as they move but the 660 displayed very noticeable ghosting, flicker and trailing. Obviously the test is torturous and very high contrast – bright white against black – but it does indicate there would be issues with real world content too. Popping in a selection of Blu-rays with a lot of dark scenes and we found the manifestation of trailing in a couple of night time firefight scenes from the HBO Pacific Blu-ray Box set where objects moving across the blackened skies would visibly ‘feather’. Again, forcing the Blu-ray player in to 60Hz output cleared up the problems. We don’t want to highlight this as too large an issue, it’s not going to be visible on the vast majority of scenes but it is there. In fact we found the problems at 50Hz more severe given they weren’t restricted to extremely high contrast situations.

    Gaming Performance

    When we first tested the 47LM670, prior to updating the software, our LagTest device was measuring latency at between 45 and 46milliseconds but the latest software update available at that time saw it rise to nearer 70ms. We’re pleased to report that the 42LM660 measured at 46milliseconds with the latest software installed which brings it in to line with the ranges of TVs we’ve tested in 2012 from all the manufacturers. Note: measurement was taken with all extraneous processing switched off from the HDMI1 input labelled as GAME.

    Energy Consumption

    We were expecting good numbers here too and the LM660 didn’t disappoint with an averaged draw of just 48W in calibrated 2D mode and 64W in the default 3D picture configuration.

    Picture Quality - 2D

    The LM660 showed no particular improvements over the LM670, which is simultaneously unsurprising and slightly disappointing. In fact, other than the better out-of-the-box accuracy, there was virtually no difference in picture performance. The LM660 had slightly inferior black levels (0.16 cd/m2 without dimming and 0.12 cd/m2 on Med/High) but compensated with marginally better shadow detailing and more distinction between the shades near black.

    The calibration charts weren’t telling any lies, however, and colour reproduction was simply excellent and totally true to the directors’ intentions. Colour performance held up very well at less than optimal viewing angles thanks to the IPS panel and there’s plenty of luminance available for a bright room setting. The matte screen does cause reflections to diffuse quite profusely over the screen so we wouldn’t advise placing it opposite a window, however.

    The 42LM660 also shares the two same fundamental problems with both 24p and 50Hz (interlaced or progressive) content. The motion issues with 50Hz material mentioned on the test results page could intrude on to faster paced action and the Tru-Motion settings did nothing but add a soap opera effect over the top of the trailing. Similarly the 24p problem is likely to distract from time to time but we don’t want to overblow it and it’s not something owners will constantly be plagued by. Still, these are things that LG needs to address as there are plenty of TVs out there that don’t show these problems, although with how the market sectors are split, there’s an almost natural tendency, amongst the manufacturers, to build panels that are native 60Hz so we see how these problems creep in. Not that we would excuse it.

    Screen uniformity was in the ‘better than average’ category for LED TVs. There was some mild corner bleed, particularly from the top right, but the banding and dirty screen effect so pervading on the LM860 was largely not intrusive. The faster the pan and the brighter the colour, the more likely you would see either but it certainly wasn’t something that caused us any real consternation during the review process and instances were fleeting and relatively rare.

    Picture Quality - 3D

    3D images were fabulously bright, without any crosstalk or flicker but 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 realise some don’t like passive technology, for one reason and another, but if you’ve yet to see it and were previously discounting it on the grounds of ‘reduced resolution’, we’d urge you to check it out with your own eyes.

    Conclusion

    7
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10

    Pros

    • Unbelievable out-of-the-box accuracy
    • Beautifully presented and extensive features
    • Convincing colours
    • Excellent viewing angles
    • Fantastic 3D
    • Some very good video processing

    Cons

    • Average blacks and contrast performance
    • Motion artefacting/trailing in 50Hz content
    • Issues with high contrast scenes on Blu-ray
    • Some mild uniformity issues
    You own this Total 0
    You want this Total 0
    You had this Total 0

    LG LM660 (42LM660T) 3D LED LCD TV Review

    At a suggested retail price of just under £1,000, the LG 42LM660T is approaching the price-point at which its flaws are forgivable but doesn’t quite cross the line. If it weren’t for the processing problems that occasionally manifest with both 50Hz sources and 1080p24 Blu-ray content, then we’d be looking at very attractive proposition. The out-of-the-box accuracy was nothing short of astonishing, the feature-set is as superb as its presentation and the 3D pictures are fantastic. We loved the design and the Magic Motion Remote Control is a mini-revelation. It’s close but no cigar for the LG LM660T this time.

    That the 42LM660 so mirrored the performance of the 47LM670 recently tested was no great surprise, the only notable differences were a slight degradation in black levels, with the smaller panel, but that came with improved shadow detail and input lag is a much more respectable 46 milliseconds with the latest software. The LG LM660 is almost everything one would expect of a 3D Smart TV in this sector of the market, it just needs LG to sort out the panel driving issues for it to be a real contender.


    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £999.00

    The Rundown

    Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

    5

    Screen Uniformity

    6

    Colour Accuracy

    9

    Greyscale Accuracy

    10

    Video Processing

    7

    Picture Quality

    7

    3D Picture Quality

    9

    Sound Quality

    5

    Smart Features

    8

    Build Quality

    8

    Ease Of Use

    8

    Value for Money

    6

    Verdict

    7

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