LG LE8900 (47LE8900) Review

Does LG's new Infinia LCD TV live up to its THX certification and high-end status?

TV Review

163

Highly Recommended
LG LE8900 (47LE8900) Review
SRP: £2,100.00

Introduction

Over the last few years I have been impressed by LG's attempts to both produce more accurate displays and include comprehensive calibration controls. Obviously LG has had no choice but to jump on the same band wagons as the other manufacturers and this has seen them introduce 200Hz processing, LED backlighting, ultra slim designs, localised dimming and internet functionality. However LG has also tried to keep the image as accurate as possible and this has led to them introducing ISFccc controls, 10 point greyscale calibration and colour management systems. The 47LE8900 represents the best of LG's 2D design and as well as all the previously mentioned features, it also includes an IPS panel, a Freeview HD tuner and THX certification, so let's see how this impressively specified display handles our rigorous review process.

Styling & Connections

In common with many other manufacturers, LG has chosen to use a single sheet of glass for the front of its latest line of LCD displays. This gives the 47LE8900 a very minimalist, sleek and contemporary look but there can be problems with reflections if you are watching a very dark scene in a brightly lit room. The 47” screen is within the seamless glass front and has a black surround that is 4cm wide at the top and sides and 8cm wide at the bottom. At the bottom right of the screen are a number of touch sensitive buttons that allow you to control basic functions that light up when the display is turned on. The 47LE8900 uses a full array of 240 locally dimming LED backlights, and yet, LG have managed to build a chassis that is only 3.5cm deep. This is a significant achievement as most other ultra slim displays use side LED lighting, which I often find results in uneven backlighting. The back of the chassis is made of black metal and the display is attached to a solid black glass and metal stand that allows it to be swiveled. Personally I found the black and glass look of the design to be very attractive, but don’t be fooled by the slim dimensions, the size coupled with the solid glass front and metal back make for a very heavy chassis, which you need to be aware of if you are planning to wall mount the display.

The 47LE8900 has an impressive set of connections at the back including 3 HDMI inputs, a LAN port, a RS232 connector, a SCART socket, an optical digital out, an aerial socket, component video with left and right audio inputs using RCA connectors, a VGA socket and composite video with left and right audio inputs using RCA connectors. At the side there is an additional HDMI input as well as a headphone socket, a Common Interface card slot, 2 USB ports and a second set of inputs for either composite or component video and left and right audio. Personally I prefer the majority of the inputs to be at the back rather than the side, but I would have liked to see the inputs facing down rather than out as this would make it easier to mount the display on a wall.





The remote follows the same glossy black look of the display, it is well designed with good ergonomics and a definite improvement over previous LG remotes. I found it comfortable to hold and easy to use with all the buttons sensibly laid out, except for the EPG button which for some reason is down in the bottom left hand corner. There are controls for all the main functions including the aspect ratio, the AV mode, the input, the menu and the NetCast functions. There is also the Q.Menu which allows easy access to key picture functions without going through the main menu. Another nice touch is that the remote is backlit which makes using it in a dark room much easier.


Menus & Setup

The menu system on the 47LE8900 is the standard LG design and this is a good thing as I think that LG’s menus are some of the best around. They are sensibly laid out and use large colourful icons that are easy to read. The menu is simple to navigate and very responsive which makes a nice change from some manufacturers over complicated and slow menu systems. This responsiveness was reflected in all aspects of the display and meant that not only the menu was fast but so was using the EPG, selecting aspect ratios and AV modes or changing inputs.

The main menu page gives you a series of ten options each represented by an appropriate icon. Aside from the Set Up, Picture and Audio options which I’ll come back to there is also the Time option which relates to setting the time as well as the timer and sleep mode functions. The Lock option obviously controls the parental lock, within Option are a series of generic controls for functions such as language and the Network sets up the internet connection. There is also the Bluetooth option which allows the display to connect to another Bluetooth device, the My Media option which allows you to view videos and photos and listen to audio files, and the Game option which allows you to play included games on the display.

The actual Set Up of the display was very easy with the Freeview channels being tuned in about 5 minutes. The resulting EPG is very well laid out and easy to use with an attractive design. The EPG is semi transparent, appearing over the channel you are watching and there is still audio as you navigate through the channel choices. I used a LAN cable to connect the 47LE8900 to the internet but you can connect via WiFi if you buy an optional wireless dongle. Setting up the internet function is also easy although the resulting platform is fairly limited.

Within the Picture menu on the 47LE8900 there is an option for choosing the Aspect Ratio, where possible always use the Just Scan selection as this will pixel map the incoming signal exactly and thus avoid any overscan or unnecessary processing. 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 Intelligent Sensor which will adjust the brightness depending on the ambient light plus Vivid, Standard, Sport and Game. Of more interest to the AV enthusiast is the inclusion of two THX presets, one called THX Cinema which you can use at night or in a light controlled room and one called THX Bright Room which you can use for daytime viewing. There are also two ISF settings - Expert1 and Expert2 - which a professional calibrator can use to access advanced picture controls and then lock once they are finished. There are two settings because much like the THX presets you can create one for daytime viewing and one for nighttime viewing.

Within the Picture Mode there are standard controls such as Backlight, Contrast, Brightness, Sharpness, Colour and Tint which can be accessed from most modes except the two THX modes which is very sensible. There is also a control for the 200Hz TruMotion which gives the option of Off, Low, High and User (with separate controls for Judder and Blur) as well as a control for turning the LED Local Dimming on and off.

In ISF Expert1 or Expert2 there is also the Expert Control option which gives the professional calibrator access to an impressive array of picture controls. There is a Dynamic Contrast which seeks to boost the contrast ratio by changing the Brightness and Contrast controls on the fly and is best left off. There are Noise Reduction controls for both analogue and digital signals but I found they didn’t really improve the picture and were best left off. The Black Level function should be left on Low and the Real Cinema function controls the deinterlacing of film based material and should always be left On. The Colour Gamut offers a series of choices including Standard, Wide, EBU, SMPTE and Rec709, since Rec709 is the Industry Standard that we seek to accurately reproduce then this is the best choice. The Edge Enhancer acts much like a Sharpness control and just like any other Sharpness control it should be left off.

The Expert Control also allows you to select the Colour Temperature, here I found Warm to be the best choice, and Gamma for which I selected 2.2. The 47LE8900 has both 2 point and 10 point White Balance control, I selected the 10 point option which should allow me to very accurately calibrate the Greyscale and Colour Temperature.

Finally there is a Colour Management System (CMS) that allows you to accurately calibrate the Colour Gamut. In the CMS that LG has built into the 47LE8900 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.


Features

As previously mentioned the 47LE8900 comes with an impressive set of features including a built-in Freeview HD tuner. In addition the 47LE8900 uses an IPS panel which should improve the performance of the display when viewing off axis. There is also a full array of 240 LED backlights with localised dimming for a more uniform backlight and improved blacks. In addition LG’s 200Hz TruMotion technology uses a unique scanning backlight technology to help eliminate motion blur and picture flicker.

LG’s NetCast allows access to internet widgets but the only applications currently available are AcuWeather, YouTube and Picasa. This is a fairly limited selection compared to most other manufacturers and they are not the fastest widgets to load or play, but I expect that this will improve over time with upgrades. NetCast can be accessed either via the built-in Ethernet port or using an optional WiFi USB dongle. Finally the 47LE8900 includes DivX HD and is fully DNLA compliant for streaming content across your network or connecting your digital camera, MP3 player or flash memory through the USB port to watch videos, listen to music or look at photos.


Test Results

For the purposes of this test I selected the THX Cinema preset which should provide the most accurate out of the box performance for the 47LE8900. With this preset you sensibly can’t change the Backlight, Brightness, Contrast, Colour or Tint controls and the Sharpness was already set to zero. However I also turned off the 200Hz TruMotion and LED Localised Dimming functions. As previously mentioned the Colour Gamut was set to Rec709, the Gamma was set to 2.2 and the Colour Temperature was set to Warm.

As you can see from the chart above the Greyscale performance out of the box was excellent for a pre-calibrated preset. The Colour Temperature measured very close to D65 and the gamma was also measuring quite close to the 2.2 target. The Red, Green and Blue Level Tracking was also very good with Blue exactly on the 100 target and Red just below and Green just above, especially after 60 IRE. The DeltaE (error) is less than 3 for all IRE levels and less than 2 for some of them which is largely imperceptible to the human eye. I have seen displays that couldn’t produce results this good after calibration, but the 47LE8900 has a 10 point White Balance control so I would expect these results to be even better after calibration.

This excellent out of the box performance isn’t restricted to the Greyscale either, as the above chart shows the Colour Gamut was also excellent. The CIE chart shows where Rec709 is and as you can see the 47LE8900 is very close in both the primary and the secondary colours. The DeltaE (error) was less than 2 for every colour but Cyan which is a superb result for an out of the box preset. Once again with the addition of a CMS we should be able to improve on this already excellent performance.

For the purposes of calibrating the 47LE8900 I used the ISF Expert1 setting as a starting point, I then set the Backlight, Contrast and Brightness controls to their appropriate levels. Interestingly these settings proved to be almost identical to those used for the THX Cinema setting which shows that the THX calibration process is quite accurate. As before I made sure that the Sharpness settings were at zero, the Gamma was set to 2.2, the Colour Temperature was set to Warm and the Colour Gamut was set to Rec709.
As the chart shows the Greyscale performance of the 47LE8900 after calibration was of reference quality and is the best I have measured from any LCD display that I have tested. The 10 point White Balance controls allow you to set Red, Green and Blue individually for 10 to 100 IRE and the result is perfect Greyscale tracking. The DeltaE is less than 1 from 10 to 100 IRE which is imperceptible to the human eye. The Correlated Colour Temperature was also measuring at exactly D65 and the Gamma was measuring around the 2.2 level, but with a slight s-curve that couldn'r be corrected any further with the controls available.

The Colour Gamut performance was also of reference quality with a DeltaE of less than 2 for Green and Cyan and less than 1 for the other colours. Given the excellent results out of the box there were only small adjustments needed using the CMS to get Luminance, Colour and Hue errors of less than 2 which is absolutely superb. LG are to be congratulated for creating a display that so accurately reproduces Rec709.

LG have been an advocate of ISFccc controls for some time now and it is pleasing to see a manufacturer concentrating on producing accurate images rather than worrying about useless marketing gimmicks that are detrimental to the picture.

Video Processing

The performance of the 47LE8900 in the video processing tests was reasonable overall but could have been better. Using both my PAL and NTSC HQV benchmark discs I first checked the SMPTE colour bar test which the 47LE8900 easily passed, correctly scaling the full 576i and 480i images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. The 47LE8900 didn’t score quite as well when it came to video deinterlacing with jaggies appearing when the line was at 20 degrees in the first test. In the second test the motion adaptive deinterlacing could also have been better with slight jaggies on the second line and more on the bottom one
The 47LE8900 performed well in the film detail test and correctly locked on to the image resulting in no aliasing in the speedway seats behind the race car (for those of you who are familiar with the HQV test footage). In the cadence tests the 47LE8900 correctly detected the 2:3 (NTSC - USA/Japan) format but was unable to correctly detect the 2:2 (PAL - European) format. However the 47LE8900 did perform well when handling film material with scrolling video text, correctly displaying the words without any blurring or shredding.

The 47LE8900 also performed very well in most of the tests on the HQV Blu-ray 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 47LE8900 also had no issues in showing video text overlaid on film based material and handled 24p content without any problems.
I used my Spears and Munsil test disc to check the headroom performance of the 47LE8900 from reference white (video level 235) up to peak white (video level 255) and there were absolutely no signs of clipping. The 47LE8900 also showed detail down to reference black at video level 17 and performed well on the other tests on this disc including tests for dynamic range, sharpness, contrast, greyscale and image cropping.

Overall this is a good set of results but I couldn’t help feeling that given the incredible greyscale performance and amazing colour gamut accuracy that the video processing should have been better.

Gaming Performance

In the THX Cinema mode the 47LE8900 measured an input lag of 80ms which is rather slow, especially compared to other displays I’ve tested recently. However in Game mode that improved to 40ms which is better and perfectly acceptable to me but it still might be a bit slow for hardcore gamers.

Energy Consumption

The energy consumption of a LCD display tends to be very consistent and largely depends on the brightness setting of the backlight, rather than being affected by the on-screen images. However dynamic contrast functions and Energy Saving functions will affect energy consumption because these controls vary the backlight and brightness of the display depending on the image. In the THX Cinema mode the 47LE8900 consumed approximately 80W at 0IRE and 83W at 50IRE and 86W at 100IRE and using the calibrated Expert1 setting it measured about 73, 76 and 78W respectively. In standby mode the 47LE8900 consumed less than 1W of energy, so overall the energy consumption performance was very good.

Picture Quality

The 47LE8900’s reference quality greyscale, colour temperature, colour gamut and gamma performance coupled with good deinterlacing and scaling resulted in a truly excellent picture. The image was so good that it ruthlessly exposed any weaknesses in standard definition Freeview broadcasts although stations with a higher bit rate could look very good. With high definition broadcasts the 47LE8900 deinterlaced the 1080i signal without any problems and the resulting image looked stunning and really benefited from the increased resolution. DVDs also looked very good with the 47LE8900 showing every bit of detail as well as producing a natural and accurate image. The performance was simply amazing with Blu-rays and the 47LE8900 produced some of the best images I have seen from a LCD display. The picture exhibited excellent shadow detail and a fantastic dynamic range which coupled with accurate colours resulted in a very film-like image.

The 47LE8900 uses an IPS panel and the improvements of this technology were evident when I tested the display’s off-axis performance. When viewed from the sides the image did not suffer from the usual loss of contrast and colour desaturation that plagues VA panels. There was a slight loss of contrast when viewed at extreme angles but the colour reproduction remained solid and the 47LE8900 clearly showed superior off-axis performance, especially compared to the VA panels I have tested.

In addition the use of a full array of LED lights resulted in a very uniform backlight that was far better than the recent edge lit displays that I have tested. The black levels were also excellent, especially compared to other displays that use IPS panels and the 47LE8900 had the best blacks I have seen from a LCD display. The localised dimming worked very well here, enhancing the blacks without resulting in halos around moving objects.

There have been reports in other reviews and in the forums of banding and on further investigation this did prove to be the case. With certain material I could see slight banding when panning across a uniform screen but this was not really apparent with most viewing material. It seemed to me that the banding was caused by the LED array behind the screen rather than because of the localised dimming or any other processing. How distracting this might be will ultimately depend both on the material being watched and on the individual but I suspect a lot of people won't notice at all.

As is usually the case I could not detect any real benefit from using the 200Hz TruMotion function with video material and in fact it was detrimental to the image with film based material, resulting in the dreaded 'soap opera' look. The image was already excellent and I could not detect any motion artefacts so I just left it off.

Overall the picture quality was excellent and once again LG are to be congratulated on producing a display with such an excellent image.

Verdict

8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

Pros

  • THX Cinema provides a very accurate preset
  • Reference Greyscale performance after calibration
  • Reference Colour accuracy after calibration
  • Excellent black levels for a LCD display
  • IPS panel provides very good off-axis performance
  • Full array LED backlighting with localised dimming
  • Full ISFccc Calibration controls
  • Freeview HD built in
  • Excellent backlight uniformity
  • Very well designed and responsive menu system
  • Attractive styling and well designed remote

Cons

  • Video deinterlacing could be better
  • Failure to detect 2:2 cadence
  • Slight banding on some material
  • Internet platform is ather limited
  • Input lag could be better in Game mode
  • Downward facing HDMI inputs would make more sense on an ultra thin display

LG LE8900 (47LE8900) Review

The LG 47LE8900 is an attractive and well designed display that not only has one of the best out of the box performances I have ever measured but is also capable of a reference quality image after calibration. LG are to be congratulated for concentrating on image accuracy instead of unnecessary marketing gimmicks, it's a shame that more manufacturers don't take this approach. LG should also be applauded for including both a THX preset and full ISFccc controls for those that want a professional calibration.

The 47LE8900 is also remarkable for managing to include a full array of 240 locally dimming LED backlights into a chassis less than 4cm deep, resulting in excellent blacks and a very uniform backlight. In addition the off axis performance is excellent thanks to the use of an IPS panel and the menu system is also very well designed.

In fact there really isn't much wrong with the 47LE8900 and my only real complaints relate to issues such as slight banding on some material, the failure to detect 2:2 cadence correctly, the slightly inferior video deinterlacing, limited internet capabilities, slightly high input lag for gaming and the positioning of the rear inputs.

In conclusion the 47LE8900 is an excellent display that combines attractive looks with one of the best images I have seen from a LCD TV and it is definitely worth a demo if it's in your price range.

Highly Recommended

Scores

Sound Quality

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.
.
.
.
5

Smart Features

.
.
.
7

Ease Of Use

.
.
8

Build Quality

.
.
.
7

Value for Money

.
.
.
7

Verdict

.
.
8

Picture Quality

.
.
8

Video Processing

.
.
.
7

Greyscale Accuracy

.
9

Colour Accuracy

.
9

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

.
.
8

Screen Uniformity

.
.
8
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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