What is the LG LA970W?
In that respect LG are no different from the competition but they have taken an alternative approach in other respects. Their 65-inch LA970 UHD TV uses a full back light array, which means that the LEDs are behind the panel, rather than to the side. This should ensure a more even backlight, which can be a problem when using edge lighting on these larger screen sizes. LG has also tried to address the perennial problem of poor TV sound by adding an ingenious slide down soundbar and larger speakers at the rear. Of course aside from the 4K panel itself, all these extra features have added to the cost, so let’s see if the 65LA970W can justify its £5,500 price tag.
Design and Connections
The LA970 comes with the latest version of LG’s Magic Remote and whilst we’re not sure it needed a redesign, it remains a highly effective way of navigating the TV menus and the Smart features. We would have preferred a normal remote whilst calibrating the LG and we still find going through the home page to access the Settings menus a pain but once the TV has been setup, the Magic Remote is a pleasure to use. If you’d rather use your smartphone as a controller, LG also provide free remote apps for both iOS and Android. This being an LG TV it comes with plenty of passive 3D glasses and two pairs of Dual Play glasses for two-player gaming.
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. One of the new features in LG's smart platform is the addition of Sky's NOW TV service, which gives you access to a number of premium Sky services - for a fee of course. Although you can access NOW TV from a number of devices including Sky's own NOW TV box, LG are the only manufacturer to currently offer the service as part of their TV smart platform.
The out-of-the-box greyscale isn’t as accurate as we would expect from LG, with an excess of red and a deficit of blue resulting in some visible discolouration and a yellow tinge. The errors aren’t huge but with a DeltaE of around 5, they will be noticeable. Gamma also proved problematic, crushing blacks slightly at the low end of the scale and boosting the brighter portion of the picture. The colour performance is better, although the luminance or brightness of red, blue and therefore magenta are all too high. There are also some hue errors due to the inaccurate greyscale and you can clearly see white skewing towards yellow.
In the past LG have included some very effective calibration controls but recently we have noticed some bugs in the software and sadly the LA970 was also affected. We were able to quickly improve the greyscale using the two-point control but found the 20-point to be largely ineffective. No matter how much we moved certain sliders they appeared to have no affect, so we couldn’t fine tune the greyscale in places, although overall it was very accurate. However the gamma remained a problem that we were unable to correct it with the controls available to us.
Things got worse with the colour management system (CMS), which initially seemed to work quite well, giving a reference series of measurements. However as soon as we watched some viewing material there was an obvious problem with the CMS, introducing terrible artefacts into the image - especially with red. In the end the best we could do was calibrate the greyscale and leave it at that because any attempt to use the CMS introduced artefacts. As a result the hue errors were corrected but the excessive luminance in red, blue and magenta remained. This is a poor state of affairs for flagship TV that costs as much as the LA970.
The measurements at lower saturation levels were reasonable, although there was an over saturation of all the colours at levels below 100%. Again this isn’t terrible but we really would expect a more accurate performance from a flagship TV at this price point. It would seem that in terms of colour accuracy, LG have some work to do.
If there was one area where the LA970 really surprised us, it was in terms of it’s native black levels. We actually measured black at 0.005cd/m2 which is extremely good for an IPS panel. The LA970 also had plenty of brightness, easily hitting out target of 120cd/m2 and giving us an on/off contrast ratio of 24,000:1. When it came to the ANSI contrast ratio, things weren’t quite as impressive, with the LA970 measuring at 1,767:1. However as the checker board pattern shows, thanks to the full array backlight the measurements were very uniform.
In fact this was one area where the LA970 was especially strong, with a very uniform backlight and no clouding and bright corners or edges. Unfortunately all this good work was undone once you moved off-axis. Surprisingly for an IPS panel, the off-axis performance was very poor with bright objects against dark backgrounds glowing very noticeably, even with local dimming turned off. The only conclusion is that the proximity of the LEDs to the panel itself is causing the glowing, despite the presence of LG’s proprietary Nano filter. So whilst the picture looked great directly in front of the screen, it rapidly deteriorated as you moved further from centre.
The video processing on any UHD TV is especially important because, for the time being at least, all 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 LA970 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 LA970 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.
LG TVs have struggled with input lag recently, which suggests that there is quite a bit of processing going on behind the scenes. However in our recent review of the LA860 we measured a lag of about 50ms which whilst too slow for dedicated gamers was at least an improvement on last year. Sadly the LA970 is a retrograde step, measuring a decidedly tardy 109ms even in Game mode. This will undoubtedly be too slow not only for the more expert gamer but also those of a less fanatical nature, so if input lag, or rather the lack of it, is important to you then the LA970 is probably not the best choice.
- Standby: 0.0W
- Out-of-the-Box – Dynamic Mode: 204W
- Calibrated 2D Mode: 195W
- Calibrated 3D Mode:280W
LG LA970W Picture Quality 4K
LG LA970W Picture Quality 2D
Sadly all this good work was undermined by two factors that as far as we can tell are directly attributable to the full LED backlight array. Whilst we applaud LG's attempts to use a full LED array to eliminate backlight uniformity and clouding issues - and they have been successful in this regard - their desire to keep the chassis slim undermines a lot of their good work. The LEDs are just too close to the panel itself and LG's proprietary Nano filter doesn't diffuse them enough to eliminate certain issues. Thus, as we mentioned in the Test Results section, as soon as you move off centre bright objects against dark backgrounds glow excessively. This haloing is common with poorly applied local dimming but it was obvious on the LA970 regardless of whether the local dimming was on or off. As long as you were sat dead centre it was not an issue but as soon as you moved to either side it was immediately noticeable. We could tolerate the glowing to a certain extent because, as we said, it wasn't an issue when you watched the LA970 directly on-axis but it will make it difficult for the whole family to watch TV when spread across the living room.
The second factor was far more of an issue and is again a result of the LEDs proximity to the panel. Unfortunately whenever a camera panned from one side to the other banding was clearly visible. This banding was the result of LED array and you could literally see the columns of LEDs that make up the backlight. Again it didn't matter if the local dimming was on or off and it was always there regardless of whether you were watching 4K, high-def or 3D content. It was especially noticeable if the camera panned over a uniform surface such as a sky or a green field and thus made football almost unwatchable. LG developed the Nano filter as a way of combating this banding but it has proved largely ineffective and LG have failed to address this problem despite us feeding back our comments on it over the last two years. As a result the picture is compromised and certainly can't justify the LA970's hefty price tag.
LG LA970W Picture Quality 3D
LG LA970W Video Review
- Excellent backlight uniformity
- Surprisingly good black levels
- Superb video processing
- Reference Smart platform
- Excellent features
- Impressive audio
- Great build quality
- Noticeable banding on any camera pans
- Excessive glowing around bright objects
- Very limited off axis performance
- CMS introduces artefacts
LG LA970W Ultra HD 4K TV Review
Despite all this, the one thing that sets the LA970 apart from the competition is also its downfall. The use of a full LED array backlight might result in good uniformity and deep blacks but the proximity of the LEDs to the panel and the ineffectiveness of the Nano filter spoils the party. The glowing of bright objects on dark backgrounds once you move off-axis means the LA970 has very limited viewing angles, which is a problem for a TV this big. Whilst the banding that appears every time a camera pans will make some content and especially football almost unwatchable. When you consider how much the LA970 costs that really isn't acceptable and has to be a mark against the TV when compared to much of the competition. The simple fact is that the 65-inch UHD TVs on offer from both Sony and Samsung offer better performance for a lower price and, as a result, the LG 65LA970W is a case of close but no cigar.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
3D Picture Quality
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
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