Does LG's latest Ultra HD TV get an award or a UB40?
What is the LG UB950?
Last year LG were definitely guilty of a degree of overreach when it came to their Ultra HD 4K TVs.The incorporation of innovations such as a slide down soundbar and a high level of build quality, resulted in a TV that felt over-engineered and with a price tag to match. Unfortunately the picture quality just wasn't good enough to justify the cost and we ended up wishing that LG had just concentrated on getting the basics right. The Full HD TVs that we have seen from LG so far this year have shown definite improvement. There's still been plenty of innovation, with webOS being a real game changer, and the build quality remains excellent. However the picture quality has also impressed us, with accurate images and an effective local dimming system.So we approached LG's UB950 Ultra HD TV with a degree of genuine anticipation. The idea of faster processing and webOS is certainly exciting, as is the higher resolution panel and Triple XD Engine. The attractive metallic design and 'ribbon' stand deliver improved looks and possibly better sound quality, whilst the 4K panel should make the 3D look fantastic. Once you add in HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2, HEVC decoding and a £2,299 price tag, the 55UB950V starts to look very interesting. Along with the 55-inch model reviewed here there is also a 65-inch version, which can be picked up for an equally tempting £3,299. So let's see if the LG 55UB950 lives up to its promise.
Design and ConnectionsThe UB950 uses a metallic design, with a 0.5cm bezel surrounding the screen and a silver trim on the outer edge. There is a metal strip along the bottom, which includes forward-firing speakers either side of the LG logo and the entire chassis sits on LG's new 'ribbon' stand. This has been designed to look attractive but also to help with the audio performance; although it obviously can't be swivelled. The UB950 is a great looking TV with a minimalist and very contemporary design and a great level of build quality. Although as with their other TVs this year, the power cable uses an unusual three-pin connector and is only 1.5m long.
The UB950 is another great looking TV from LG's designers and the build quality is excellent.
At the rear are a combination of downwards and sideways facing connections. There are four HDMI inputs and three USB ports facing sideways but unfortunately these are positioned only 12cm from the edge. LG has moved the sideways facing connections 20cm further in on some of their TVs this year, so this is disappointing to see on the UB950. There is one HDMI 2.0 input, along with three HDMI 1.4 inputs that support ARC and MHL, whilst there is also a USB 3.0 and three USB 2.0 ports. Facing downwards you'll find aerial and satellite connectors, an Ethernet port, a headphone socket and various legacy connections.
The UB950 comes with LG's Magic Remote in a nice silver and black finish and it remains the best motion controller we have tested. LG have been fine tuning this controller for a couple of years and the current model is ergonomically designed to make it comfortable to hold and easy to use. It's also very accurate in terms of tracking motion on the screen, thus making it the perfect compliment to LG's new webOS/Smart+ system.
The UB950 is a Cinema 3D (passive) TV and includes two pairs of well made metallic 3D glasses that match LG's overall design aesthetic. The great thing about passive, aside from the lack of batteries and flicker, is that in general the glasses are very cheap. In fact if you have any RealD glasses from the cinema, you can even use those, and you can also buy optional Dual Gaming glasses, which is an inventive implementation of the passive 3D technology.
MenusSince webOS/Smart+ is a complete redesign of the TV's system architecture from the ground up, it should come as no surprise that the menu system has also been overhauled. You access the setup menu in the same way that you access everything else, by pressing the Home button. The launcher menu appears along the bottom and in the top right hand corner is an icon for the setup menu and also one for the inputs. If you click on the setup icon, you get a menu that covers everything from Picture, Sound, Network, General, Security and Accessibility. There's also a Quick option, to guide the unfamiliar through the setup process.
Within the Picture sub-menu there is an option called Picture Adjust, where you can access all the standard controls such as Backlight, Contrast, Brightness, Colour, Tint and Sharpness. There's also a sub-menu for Expert Control with options for Dynamic Contrast, Super Resolution, Colour Gamut, Edge Enhancer, Colour Filter, Gamma, White Balance (2- and 20-point control) and a Colour Management System (CMS). LG have long been a supporter of ISF picture modes, which calibrators can use to create Day and Night settings but they also have Picture Wizard, which is a handy tool for getting a quick and easy setup that's reasonably accurate.
LG's webOS powered Smart+ platform remains both revolutionary and highly effective.
FeaturesThe UB950 is another good example of the improvements that have been made to the built-in sound on modern TVs. The shape of the 'ribbon' stand and the use of front-firing speakers really help, whilst the deeper chassis - 6cm at its thickest point - also means that larger speakers can be used. As a result the sound quality was very good and the built-in 2.1-channel configuration and 35 watts of amplification delivered a decent, room-filling sound. Thanks to the larger screen size there was a reasonable sense of stereo separation and the volume could go quite high without distorting, whilst dialogue remained clear. Whilst the sound on the UB950 might not be as good as a sound bar or all-in-one system , it's certainly good enough for the majority of TV viewing.
The UB950 incorporates LG's excellent new webOS/Smart+ platform, which is incredibly intuitive and easy to use. By treating everything as an app that appears as a pop-up tag along the bottom, you can quickly switch from one app to the next. If you scroll to the left, you go backwards through the apps you have previously opened and if you scroll forwards you can access all the apps. There is no need to go close one app or go to another page to access an app, you just select the one you want from the launcher and go straight into it. Since everything including Live TV, the TV Guide, the Time Machine (HDD recording) and the HDMI inputs are treated as apps, navigating from one to the other is simple, making webOS/Smart+ the first system that feels like an integral part of the TV. The new system really is a game changer and you can read the full in-depth review here.
The image accuracy of the UB950 was a disappointment compared to other LG TVs we've seen this year.
For our initial measurements we started by choosing either of the ISF picture modes because they will default to the best colour and white balance settings and turn off the majority of the image processing, leaving a picture that will come closest to the industry standards. You can find our recommended best settings based upon the review measurements here.
The out-of-the-box greyscale accuracy was generally very good on the UB950, with the errors all below the visible threshold of three. There was a tiny excess of green across most of the scale and an excess of blue energy in the blacks but overall this was a decent out-of-the-box performance. The gamma wasn't tracking as smoothly as we would have liked, with the curve hitting 2.3 at around 20 and 90 IRE and dropping to 2.1 at 50 and 60 IRE. The colours also weren't as impressive as we have seen on some other LG TVs this year and the luminance, in particular, was producing some sizeable errors in red, blue and magenta.
The two-point white balance controls proved effective at improving the accuracy of the greyscale but we struggled with the ten-point control, which didn't appear to work correctly. Whilst the resulting greyscale performance was very good overall, we still struggled to correct the excess of blue in the blacks. We also struggled to make any improvement in the gamma, with the curve still snaking around its target of 2.2.
There appears to have been a firmware update for the colour management system that has solved the problem of introducing artefacts when used. Unfortunately, the CMS appeared to have very little impact on the actual colours, making it essentially useless. As a result we were unable to correct the luminance errors. This is a shame because the hue and saturation performances were generally pretty good, although both red and blue struggled at lower saturation points.
Black Levels, Contrast Ratio and Screen Uniformity
As usual for an LG TV, the UB950 uses an IPS panel, which means a wider optimum viewing angle but poor native blacks. We actually measured black at 0.13cd/m2 which, whilst not great, is similar to other LG TVs we've tested this year. In terms of brightness, the UB950 also had no problems hitting 120cd/m2, so it will certainly work well in rooms with a lot of ambient light. The ANSI contrast ratio measured at 665:1 which is fairly mediocre but the backlight uniformity was good, with an even appearance and no obvious clouding or bright corners and edges. As we expected there was some occasional banding visible when the camera panned from side to side and the use of the local dimming didn't appear to affect the banding. However we didn't feel that the local dimming worked as well as it has on other LG TVs that we have seen this year, so the blacks didn't seem as solid and there was some obvious haloing, even in the low setting. We discuss this in more detail in the Picture Quality section.Video Processing
The video processing on any UHD TV is especially important because, for the time being at least, the majority of the content you will be watching on it will be upscaled to the panels native resolution of 3840 x 2160. Thankfully the video processing was absolutely superb, with all the content we watched being deinterlaced and scaled perfectly to match the higher resolution panel. The UB950 proved extremely competent at deinterlacing and scaling standard definition content, with clear and crisp reproduction of fine details and no unwanted ringing.
The LG also had no problems detecting both 3:2 and 2:2 cadence correctly and scrolling video text over film was also delivered perfectly. The UB950 performed extremely well in all our other tests, delivering an almost flawless performance in every regard. The quality of the video deinterlacing at 1080i50 was just as good as it was for standard definition and there were no apparent issues with 24p content. All this content was perfectly scaled to match the 3840 x 2160 panel and we saw no motion handling issues. In fact we found the overall motion handling to be quite impressive for a LCD TV and even fast moving sport looked quite good.
We measured the ISF mode with all the extra processing features turned off at 72ms but, switching to the Game mode, brought this down to a more acceptable 62ms. Using the old trick of renaming the input to PC resulted in a further improvement to 52ms. Whilst this isn't low enough for the serious gamer, it will be fine for most people, and it's a big improvement over last year's LG 4K TVs. In fact it is one of the better measurements for an Ultra HD TV this year, where the additional processing adds some lag when compared toy Full HD TVs. Certainly from gaming perspective we didn't find the lag to be an issue and enjoyed a few sessions on our PS4 where the 4K panel made the most of the new console's superior graphics.
- Standby: 0W
- Out-of-the-Box – Normal Mode: 152W
- Calibrated – Professional Mode: 128W
- Calibrated - 3D Mode: 153W
LG UB950V Video Review
LG UB950V Picture QualitySince the UB950 is an Ultra HD TV, the obvious place to start is with 4K material. We still only have a limited supply of content and sadly our internet connection isn't good enough to enjoy the one genuine source currently available - Netflix. However with the content that we had, the results were excellent with the UB950 delivering the material very well on its native 4K panel. We may have some reservations about other aspects of the LG's performance but interns of ultra high definition content, the UB950 is a winner. Although depending on your viewing distance, the 55" screen might not offer as many benefits as some the larger screen sizes when it comes to 4K.
The performance of the UB950 with high definition content was, in the most part, also very good. The excellent video processing scaled the content to match the higher resolution screen very effectively. The impressive backlight uniformity was pleasing to see, whilst the motion handling was also good for an LCD panel and when it came to 24p content the results were great - as long as TruMotion was off. The excellent greyscale also played its part in creating a good picture and whilst the colours weren't as accurate as we would have liked, they appeared perfectly fine with normal viewing content.
Sadly all this good work was undermined by two factors that we have seen time and again on LG TVs - banding and haloing. The issue with banding was fairly minor and pretty much every TV we have reviewed this year has suffered from it to some degree or another. However since we had the UB950 in for review during the World Cup, we did end up watching quite a few matches on it and the uniform green of the pitch and the constant panning of the camera as it followed the flow of play, quickly revealed this banding. The UB950 uses edge lighting, with the LEDs positioned at the top and bottom, which is presumably the cause of the banding as this creates columns of light behind the panel.
This approach to lighting the panel, also created problems for the local dimming. Since the native blacks are poor, you will need to use the local dimming if you want the picture to be acceptable, especially when viewing at night. We would recommend using the Low setting as the others are too aggressive, resulting in loss of shadow detail and excessive haloing. A quick look at scenes from the final Harry Potter movie or the assault on Bin Laden's compound in Zero Dark Thirty mercilessly revealed the shortcomings in these higher modes. Sadly they also revealed similar problems even when in the Low setting and a bright object against a dark background would result in the halo extending up or down as a glowing column because of the position of the LEDs.
We have been quite impressed by the performance of the local dimming on LG's smaller and cheaper Full HD TVs, so it's disappointing to see these issues on their flagship models. We suspect that the screen size might be a factor but the positioning of the LEDs clearly doesn't help and is directly related to the banding and haloing. Perhaps LG should consider placing the LEDs at the side, as other manufacturers do with greater success. Whilst these are worst case examples, the issue was apparent with less extreme content and was also easy to see when navigating webOS. If you watch a lot of TV during the day it won't be as much of an issue but at night, when you'll need to activate the local dimming, you will notice it.
The one area where we expected the UB950 to deliver the goods was in terms of 3D, with the passive filter and higher resolution panel combining to create Full HD for each eye. This was the case with the UB950 and the resulting 3D images had loads of detail, plenty of depth and no flicker. However they also had a surprising amount of crosstalk, which was unusual as this is rarely the case with passive displays. Given that the UB950 uses a polarised filter combined with circular polarised lenses in the glasses, the only explanation we can think of for why the 3D should be exhibiting crosstalk is that it's a result of video processing . This is a disappointment because on previous Ultra HD TVs with passive 3D the results have been superb.
The picture performance was generally good but there were a number of issues that detracted from this.
- Attractive design
- Excellent build quality
- Good sound
- Reference smart platform
- Easy to use
- Mediocre blacks
- Crosstalk on 3D
- Issues with calibration controls
LG 55UB950V (UB950V) Ultra HD 4K TV ReviewThe LG 55UB950V is a good Ultra HD 4K TV in many respects, it's attractively designed, well built and hits the right price point. There are plenty of connections, even if they are too close to the edge, and a great set of features, including the ground-breaking webOS. The UB950 also comes with two remote controls, one of which is LG's Magic Remote, and two pairs of metal passive 3D glasses. The front-firing speakers result in a decent level of sound quality for a modern TV, the energy consumption is low for a screen of this size and the input lag, whilst too high for hard core gamers at 52ms, is actually not bad for a 4K TV and fine for most people.
The video processing was generally excellent, with the UB950 scaling all the content we sent it to match the native resolution of the 4K panel. What little 4K content we had looked great and overall the picture quality was quite good. Unfortunately, as is often the case with LG, they let themselves down with some of the basic aspects of picture quality. The greyscale and colour accuracy were good but the calibration controls proved ineffective. The native blacks were poor, although the local dimming system could improve this. However it also introduced excessive haloing and there was some banding as well.
Whilst there are many things to like about the LG 55UB950V, the simple fact is that it's going head-to-head with Samsung's HU8500 and Sony's X9005, both of which offer superb performance for a similar price. As a result, despite the presence of webOS, we would find it hard to recommend the UB950. The simple fact is that in the most important aspect - picture quality - the competition is currently better.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level7
2D Picture Quality7
3D Picture Quality7
Ease Of Use10
Value for Money8
Our Review Ethos
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