Styling and Connections
Given the gorgeous design of some of LG's recent displays the 47LD950 is something of a throwback to their 2009 displays with a big glossy black plastic bezel that measured 5cm at the top and sides and 9cm at the bottom. There was also a clear plastic strip about 2cm wide down each side. The screen was also plastic but in some respects this was a good thing as it was far less reflective when compared to glass fronted displays. This is useful as nothing will draw you out of a 3D image faster than reflections on the screen which destroy the illusion of depth. The back of the chassis was matt plastic and the entire display was mounted on a gloss plastic stand. On the left hand side facing the screen are the side inputs and on the right hand side there is the on/off switch and some basic controls. The overall look clearly reflects the fact that this display was developed last year and and also betrays its origins as a commercial rather than consumer product. I also suspect that since the polarized panel is quite expensive to make, the cheaper build quality helps keep the overall cost down. The 47LD950 is also quite deep as it uses traditional CCFL backlighting instead of more recent LED edge lighting but given the poor backlight uniformity that edge lighting produces this could be an advantage.
The supplied remote is also the standard black LG design but with one vital addition, the 3D button - this button is very important, for reasons that I will come back to later.
Menus & Setup
The main menu page gives you a series of eight options each represented by an appropriate icon. The icons available are: Set Up, Picture, Audio, Time, Lock, Option, Input and USB. I'll address Set Up, Picture and Audio in more detail later but as for the other choices, Time relates to setting the time as well as the timer and sleep mode functions and Lock controls the parental lock. In addition there is Option which offers a series of generic controls for functions such as language, Input which obviously allows the user to change between inputs and label them and USB which allows the user to watch content via the USB input.
The actual Set Up of the display was very easy with the Freeview channels being tuned in about 5 minutes. The resulting EPG is well laid out and easy to use with an attractive design that is semi transparent, appearing over the channel you are watching and there is also still audio as you navigate through the channel choices.
Within the Picture menu there is an option for choosing the Aspect Ratio and where possible always use the Just Scan selection as this will pixel map the incoming signal exactly and thus avoid any overscan or unnecessary scaling. There is also an Energy Saving function but all this does is dim the picture and is best left off. The Picture Mode gives you a choice of a number of different settings including the usual Vivid, Standard, Sport and Game. Probably of more interest to the AV enthusiast is the inclusion of a pre-calibrated Cinema setting and two ISF settings. These ISF settings, called Expert1 and Expert2, allow a professional calibrator to access advanced picture controls and then lock them once finished. There are two settings allowing the calibrator to create two distinct presets, one for daytime viewing and one for night time viewing.
Within the Picture Mode there are standard controls such as Contrast, Brightness, Horizontal and Vertical Sharpness, Colour and Tint which can be accessed from all the presets, as well as a Picture Reset function.
The Expert Control also allows you to select the Colour Temperature, the choice is between Warm, Medium and Cool and here I found Warm to be the most appropriate. There is also a control for Gamma which provides a choice between Low, Medium and High and here I found that Medium best approximated a gamma of 2.2 which is the target we use in our reviews here at AVForums. The 47LD950 has both 2 point and 10 point White Balance controls, I selected the 10 point option which should allow me to very accurately calibrate the Greyscale and Colour Temperature.
Finally within Expert Control there is a Colour Management System (CMS) that should allow you to accurately calibrate the Colour Gamut. In the CMS that LG has built into the 47LD950 there are controls for the three Primary Colours (Red, Green and Blue) and the three Secondary Colours (Cyan, Magenta and Yellow). The actual controls are Colour which sets the saturation and luminance and Tint which sets the hue.
Since the 47LD950 is a 3D display there is a menu dedicated to the 3D settings which can be accessed via a 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 side by side, top and bottom, checkerboard and frame sequential.
In addition the 47LD950 includes LG's TruMotion 200Hz which uses scanning backlight technology and frame interpolation to try and eliminate motion blur and picture flicker. Finally, you can connect a digital camera, MP3 player or flash memory through the USB port in order to access multimedia content including DivX HD, JPEG and MP3.
The out of the box greyscale performance was very good with DeltaE errors of less than 3 on all points except 60 IRE, which was just slightly over. In terms of tracking green and blue were close together and about 5% over the target and red was between 5 and 10% below the target so whilst the loss of energy in red might result in some slight discolouration on the greyscale itself the actual errors are small enough to be largely indistinguishable to the human eye. The gamma measured between 2.1 and 2.3 but averaging around our 2.2 target. Overall this is very good and represents the kind of performance I have come to expect from LG.
As I have come to expect from LG the 10 point white balance controls allow for a post calibration greyscale performance that was excellent with all three colours tracking at the target point of 100 and a DeltaE of less than one at all points. This is a reference performance with the gamma still averaging around 2.2 and 2.3 and the greyscale transitioning smoothly from white to black with no discolouration.
Although it is good that LG includes a CMS it remains a nuisance that it only has two controls, one which sets Hue and one which sets Colour (Luminance and Colour) because ideally a CMS should control Luminance, Colour and Hue individually. However in this case the colour gamut was very good after calibration, measuring close to Rec709 and with an overall DeltaE of less than 2 for each colour. The Luminance measurements were also excellent which as I mentioned earlier is the most important of the three components of colour and the hue errors were also very small. The only errors remain in the colour saturation of red and blue (and therefore magenta) but these errors don't show in actual viewing material. Finally the reference greyscale performance is reflected in the accuracy of white which is smack on D65. Overall this was an excellent performance but I would like to see LG introduce a full CMS in their 2011 range of displays.
Overall the performance of the 47LD950 was very good in the video processing tests which surprised me as this is an older display and would suggest that LG have addressed certain issues through software upgrades. As usual I started with my PAL and NTSC HQV benchmark discs and first of all I checked the SMPTE colour bar test which the 47LD950 easily passed, correctly scaling the full 576i and 480i images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. The 47LD950 also scored well when it came to video deinterlacing with jaggies only appearing when the line was at an acute angle in the first test. In the second test the motion adaptive deinterlacing was also good with slight jaggies only appearing on the bottom bar of the three moving bars.
The 47LD950 performed well in the film detail test and correctly locked on to the image resulting in no aliasing. In the cadence tests the 47LD950 also correctly detected both the 2:3 (NTSC - USA/Japan) format and the 2:2 (PAL - European) format. The 47LD950 also correctly displayed film material with both horizontal and vertical scrolling video text, correctly displaying the words without any blurring or shredding. These are all areas where previous LG displays have failed so full marks to LG for making these improvements.
The 47LD950 performed very well in all of the tests on the HQV and Spears & Munsil Blu-ray discs using high definition content. With the player set to 1080i the display correctly deinterlaced and displayed both the video and film resolution tests (provided the aspect ratio is set to Just Scan) and showed good scaling and filtering performance as well as good resolution enhancement. The 47LD950 also had no problems in showing video text overlaid on film based material and also handled 24p content without any problems, even the tortuous wedge shaped test on the S&M disc.
Using the S&M disc I checked the headroom performance of the 47LD950 from reference white (video level 235) up to peak white (video level 255) and it was very good with absolutely no signs of clipping. In addition the 47LD950 also correctly showed detail down to a video level 17 and reference black below that to video level 0.
The 200Hz TruMotion function is actually 100Hz with a scanning backlight but using the FPD Benchmark Software disc's scrolling resolution chart the 47LD950 measured around the 300 line mark without TruMotion enabled which is pretty standard for an LCD display. Things improved a little with TruMotion set to Low and when set to High the motion resolution improved to about 600 lines which is pretty good. Unfortunately activating the TruMotion function results in the dreaded 'soap opera' effect so I would recommend leaving it off.
LG displays in the past have been guilty of unnecessary sharpening or video processing that couldn't be defeated but I didn't find any evidence of that on the 47LD950 and I'm especially impressed that LG appear to be addressing these issues on their existing displays as well as on their newer releases.
Whilst I make no claims to be a regular gamer I ended up playing quite a few games on the 47LD950, mostly in 3D. I found the response on 'Avatar', 'WipeOut' and 'Super Stardust' to be very responsive and I certainly wasn't aware of any lag. In actual tests I found that my calibrated ISF Expert1 preset measured a lag of 30ms which is pretty good and should keep most people happy. Curiously when I used Game mode the lag increased to 50ms which is very odd. Usually you get the smallest lag times in Game mode and I can only assume that there was some video processing in game mode that slowed the 47LD950 down. My ISF Expert1 preset had every extraneous function turned off which might account for the faster response time.
As one would expect with an LCD display the 47LD950 is reasonably efficient when it comes to energy consumption. Whilst not quite as low as some of the more recent LED backlit displays the 47LD950 measured 112 watts when displaying a 0, 50 and 100 IRE window. During regular viewing the 47LD950 consumed an average of 144 watts and it used less than 1 watt in standby.
Picture Quality - 2D
With high definition sources the 47LD950 really impressed, courtesy of the previously mentioned greyscale and colour accuracy. There was plenty of fine detail and as long as you kept the TruMotion off movies had a nice film-like quality. The 47LD950 handled 24p without any problems resulting in smooth judder free images. I watched some scenes from 'I Am Legend' and the colours in the empty New York looked suitably natural whilst the red of the sports car really popped just as the director intended. In addition camera pans were smooth and motion seemed natural; in fact it was only in the darker scenes that the 47LD950 failed to impress.
The off axis performance was very good for an LCD display which would lead me to believe that the 47LD950 uses an IPS panel and this would explain the rather mediocre black levels and poor dynamic range. Also despite using a CCFL backlight rather than LED edge lighting there was some clouding which is a shame, having said that it was still better than the terrible backlight uniformity that plagues edge lighting.
Picture Quality - 3D
Passive 3D works by using a polarized filter on the panel coupled with a pair of polarized glasses, the display then shows two interlaced images, one for the left eye and one for the right, which the brain combines resulting in a three dimensional image. The benefit of this approach is an almost total lack of crosstalk but the disadvantage is a reduced resolution. Active 3D by comparison shows each eye's full 1080p frame sequentially and the glasses synch the LCD shutters so that the left eye see the left frame and the right eye sees the right frame. The advantage is a full 1080p 3D image but the disadvantage is crosstalk to some degree or another, especially with LCD panels.
I was especially impressed with 3D gaming and I found myself enjoying 'Super Stardust', 'Avatar: The Game' and 'WipeOut' far more than I ever had with active shutter glasses. When I played 'WipeOut' on an active display the fast movement resulted in crosstalk and other artefacts that destroyed any sense of depth but this wasn't the case with the passive glasses. The same goes for 'Avatar' where the active display had trouble keeping up if you changed the view too quickly, this didn't seem to trouble the 47LD950.
Initially I was very disappointed when watching 3D Blu-rays as there appeared to be a problem with motion resulting in parts of the image appearing out of focus. Initially I tried switching the Left/Right 3D setting to Right/Left but this just inverted the image resulting in near objects appearing far away and vice versa. However I discovered that if you used the 3D button on the remote to turn the 3D off and then turned the 3D back on again this corrected the problem.
Once the problem had been fixed, watching 'Avatar' in 3D was nothing short of a revelation as James Cameron's carefully layered compositions became readily apparent. The added depth totally drew you into the film and once again I found myself being mesmerized by the 3D as if I'd never seen it before. I also watched the same scene from the 2D Blu-ray at 1080p and there really wasn't a noticeable drop in resolution when I switched to the 3D Blu-ray, possibly due to the added depth making the image appear more detailed than it actually was. 'A Christmas Carol' was also a wonderful 3D experience and Robert Zemeckis is another director that like Cameron knows how to use 3D in a creative fashion. I should also point out that 'A Christmas Carol', as well as some other 3D Blu-rays, has variable black borders at the edges to stop an artefact caused when there is only a left or right eye image. This is part of the content and not a failing of the display itself.
I found wearing the passive glasses to be much more comfortable and far less tiring than with active shutter glasses. In addition there are no batteries to worry about, no turning them on and no problems with synching or flicker. It is this simplicity that makes them appealing to children and those of a non-technical nature and they are also robust and cheap to replace.
I honestly believe that passive has the best chance of achieving mass market acceptance because of the cheap, easy to use glasses and the consumer's familiarity with this delivery method from their local cinema. It seems to me that the problem at the moment is that consumers perceive passive to be an inferior technology to active. This isn't actually true but clearly passive's current inability to display a full 1080p 3D image just reinforces this perception. However if manufacturers can produce cheaper passive displays that can show a full 1080p 3D image from a Blu-ray then all the other advantages of passive technology really come into play.
- Very good out of the box greyscale performance
- Good out of the box colour accuracy
- Reference greyscale performance after calibration
- Very good colour accuracy after calibration
- Excellent video processing
- Very impressive side by side 3D performance
- No discernable crosstalk
- Very cheap 3D glasses
- 3D glasses comfortable to wear and easy to use
- Reasonable off axis performance for an LCD display
- Colour Management System
- 10 point greyscale controls
- Reasonably short lag time for gamers
- Very responsive menu system
- Mediocre black level and contrast ratio
- Mediocre sound quality
- Some backlight clouding
- Unable to display full 1080p 3D images
- Problem locking on to 1080p 3D Blu-rays correctly
- Unusually large input lag in Game mode
- Lack of Freeview HD
- Lack of NetCast internet platform
- Lack of DNLA/networking/streaming capability
- Quite expensive compared to other 3D displays
LG LD950 (47LD950) Review
Of course there are problems, the main one being the 47LD950's inability to display a full 1080p 3D image and although some line structure was visible, at any sensible viewing distance it really wasn't that noticeable. The problem of the 47LD950 not locking on to a 1080p 3D Blu-ray correctly is a nuisance but turning the 3D off and on again seems to be an effective work around and I'm sure that LG will address this with a software upgrade. The other areas of weakness for the 47LD950 were the poor blacks and the lack of any internet, networking or streaming capability. Finally the 47LD950 is quite expensive compared to many active displays although this can be offset by cash back deals in conjunction with SKY and the added cost of active shutter glasses.
Ultimately I can't recommend the 47LD950 due to some of its limitations and because hopefully cheaper passive 3D displays that can reproduce a full 1080p 3D image will be released in 2011. However as a technology I am a huge fan of the passive method of delivering 3D and I honestly believe that if 3D is to succeed as a mass market format this is the best approach. I also feel that LG are to be congratulated for producing displays that use both 3D technologies and providing the consumer with a choice.
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3D Picture Quality
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