Unsurprisingly, Sony were first out of the 4K gate with their remarkable VPL-VW1000 projector, which was capable of handling the full 4K DCI (Digital Cinema Initiative) specifications as well as the Ultra High Definition domestic version. Toshiba then launched their ZL2 TV which used a 4K panel or Quad HD as Toshiba were calling it because it has four times the resolution of 1080p. However Toshiba were largely using the higher resolution panel to make their glasses-free 3D more viable and the ZL2 couldn't actually accept a native 4K signal over HDMI. Finally in the fourth quarter LG have made good on their promise at CES and launched the 84LM960V, their whopping 84" 4K flagship TV, which can not only accept a UHD signal but can also upscale lower resolution content to match its 3840 x 2160 panel. Of course, such cutting edge technology doesn't come cheap and at £22,499 the 84LM960 certainly isn't, but the big question is, how did it perform? Well once we'd got this 84-inch monster into the house, no easy feat in itself, we put it through its paces and found out.
Design & Connections
Despite the tank-like build quality, the 84LM960 is still a beautifully designed TV with a very attractive silver brushed metal bezel and an equally attractive chrome silver stand. The stand is securely attached using a significant number of screws and incredibly, considering the sheer size, it also swivels. There is an illuminated LG logo in the middle of the bottom bezel but thankfully this can be turned off in the menu. At the rear edge on the right hand side as you face the screen, there are some basic controls and the connections are all situated at the rear left, 18cm in from the side. There is a hardwired power cable at the rear, which is 1.5m long, although given the enormous screen size, a longer lead would have been useful. However there is a small access panel, making it possible to attach a longer cable. Other than that, the chassis is a lesson is contemporary minimalist design, with nothing to spoil its clean lines.
As is befitting its flagship status, the 84LM960 comes with an extensive set of connections, that includes four HDMI inputs that face sideways (HDMI1 includes the ARC - Audio Return Channel). The remaining sideways facing connectors are composed of three USB sockets (one of which is for use with an outboard HDD) and a CI (Common Interface) slot. The downwards facing connections include a LAN socket, a VGA connector, a SCART socket (using a supplied adaptor), an audio in, an optical digital out, an antenna connector, a satellite connector, component and composite video inputs (which use supplied adaptor cables) and a headphone socket. Strangely, considering that the 84LM960 is primarily aimed at the custom install market, there is no RS232 serial connector for system control.
The second remote control is LG's Magic Motion remote which is designed to help navigate the Smart TV platform and is a motion sensitive device similar to the controller on a Nintendo Wii. The slim glossy and black controller is comfortable to hold and easy to use. There are a few basic buttons on the Magic Motion remote such as On/Off, Volume, Programme, Mute, Home, My Apps, 3D, Up/Down/Left/Right and Enter. The Magic Motion controller proved to be quite accurate and even includes a small microphone for voice control, which is another clever idea and certainly beats shouting across the room - although generally we found it easier to just point and press.
Within Expert Control there is also a Dynamic Contrast control which seeks to boost the contrast ratio by changing the Brightness and Contrast settings but we recommend you leave that off. There are also Noise Reduction and MPEG Noise Reduction controls that didn't really improve the picture and were also best left off. The Black Level function can be set to Low or High depending on your requirements and the Real Cinema function controls the deinterlacing of film based material and, where possible, should always be left on. The Colour Gamut offers a choice of Standard and Wide as well as industry standards like EBU, SMPTE and BT709. Finally the Super Resolution and Edge Enhancer controls act much like additional sharpness controls and just like most other sharpness controls they should be left off.
Finally there is a menu for all the 3D settings which can be accessed via a dedicated button on the remote but can also be selected from the Picture menu when the display detects a 3D signal. This menu allows you to choose between the different 3D delivery systems including 2D to 3D conversion, side by side, top and bottom, checkerboard and frame sequential. There is also a control for adjusting the depth and viewpoint of the 3D effect when converting from 2D to 3D. Additional 3D menus can be selected whilst actually watching 3D content, these can be accessed using the Q.Menu button on the remote.
Audio & Features
The 84LM960 includes LG's reference status Smart TV platform and we really like LG’s layout of their Home page, which acts as a hub through which everything else is connected and which can be accessed directly from both remotes. We found navigating the Home page was very easy, especially using the Magic Motion controller, and the system was quick and responsive. All the content is very accessible and is clearly presented using a ‘card’ style format for the different categories – Premium, 3D World, LG Smart World and Smart Share. There’s most of the usual video on demand services, as well as social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and a host of other apps and features including 3D content.
The 84LM960 includes LG's Dual Play feature which can be used with either the X-Box 360 or the PS3. This feature requires you to use the special glasses included, where one pair has polarised lenses going one way and the other pair has polarised lenses going the other way. The result is that when you look at the screen you only see one image and so using the Dual Play function, each player sees only his view on the screen. Therefore when playing two player games, each player has a full screen image of their particular view rather than both views being squeezed into the same frame. It's quite a clever way for LG to use their polarised technology for features other than just 3D and is made all the more effective by the increased resolution of the panel.
The colour gamut is also very good for an out-of-the-box performance, with the majority of the DeltaEs (errors) below the limit of 3, which is the point at which the human eye can no longer distinguish them. On the CIE Chart you can see that there is some over-saturation in green, which in turn is affecting cyan and yellow and also some undersaturation in red which is affecting magenta. However, overall this is very good and just accurately calibrating the greyscale will address some of the minor errors before even resorting to the CMS.
Since the three primary colours were tracking parallel to one another in the Cinema mode, accurately calibrating them proved to be very easy. In fact we only needed to use the 2-point white balance control to get the performance shown in the RGB Balance graph above. We could have fine tuned the performance still further but since we had already reduced the errors to below one there was little point in using the 20-point white balance control. However it is nice to have it available, just in case. As with the Cinema mode, the gamma is still tracking almost exactly at 2.2 and overall this a reference greyscale and gamma performance from the 84LM960.
The first thing you will notice on the CIE Chart is that the colour temperature of white is now hitting the industry standard of D65. This immediately improved the accuracy of the colour gamut compared to the out-of-the-box measurements and we were then able to improve further using the CMS. We were able to get the luminance measurements spot-on and the hue measurements were also very accurate. There was still a slight over-saturation in green and under-saturation in red, which in turn affected yellow and magenta but these weren't visible with normal viewing content. There was some interaction between the luminance and saturation controls, which meant we had to choose between the accuracy of the two components of colour. Since our eyes are more sensitive to errors in the luminance of a colour we chose that but they overall errors are again below one, meaning that they are imperceptible to the human eye.
Contrast and Black Level
The only major area of weakness for the 84LM960 was in its black levels and screen uniformity. It uses an IPS panel, which means that you get a very good off-axis performance but you do sacrifice some performance in black level to achieve that. The 84LM960 was also very bright for a screen this big, easily hitting 120 cd/m2 but again at the expense of the black levels. We found that with the local dimming turned off we could only get a black level measurement of 0.12 cdm2, which is fairly mediocre. However by setting the local dimming to Low this improved to 0.049 cd/m2 and at Medium, which appeared to be the best option, this improved to 0.039 cd/m2. Of course by using the local dimming you can lose some shadow detail in dark scenes and there were occasional instances of banding, but we found this trade-off between black levels and artefacts proved to be the best compromise.
Given that the 84LM960 has to scale almost all the content it receives up to the native 3840 x 2160 resolution of its panel, the quality of the video processing is even more important than ever. Thankfully the video processing on LG displays is normally very good and the 84LM960 was no exception. We started with the SMPTE 133 pattern which revealed cleanly scaled 576i and 480i images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. The 84LM960 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 on the HQV disc. 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 84LM960 also performed well in the film detail test and correctly locked on to the image resulting in no aliasing. In the cadence tests the 84LM960 correctly detected both the 2:3 (NTSC - USA/Japan) format and the 2:2 (PAL - European) format and had no problems handling film material with both horizontal and vertical scrolling video text, correctly displaying the words without any blurring or shredding.
With our Blu-ray player set to 1080i the display correctly deinterlaced and displayed both the video and film resolution tests and showed good scaling and filtering performance as well as good resolution enhancement. We used the moving wedge patterns to check for moire caused by scaling to the panel's native resolution but these were very clean. There was no moire or smearing on the moving patterns and the 84LM960 did a great job with both the 2:2 and 3:2 patterns, as well as the 24p wedge. Using the S&M disc we checked the headroom performance of the 84LM960 from reference white (video level 235) up to peak white (video level 255) and it was very good with absolutely no signs of clipping. As well as white, there were also no signs of clipping with the three primary colours either. In addition, the 84LM960 also correctly showed detail down to a video level 17 and reference black below that to video level 0, as long as you had Black level set to High. If you used the Low setting the blacks will appear darker but you will be crushing them and you will lose shadow detail.
If there is one area where LG TVs have struggled in recent years, it has been with their levels of input lag. We measured the 84LM960 at around 83.5ms which whilst not good was at least better than some of LG's other displays this year. We used Game mode, turned of any processing and even tried naming the input as PC but we couldn't a measurement lower than 80ms. So the 84LM960 would not make an ideal TV for a serious gamer but let's be honest, it's highly unlikely anyone is going to buy an 84LM960 for gaming purposes.
- Standby: 0W
- Out-of-the-Box – Standard Mode: 385W
- Calibrated – Movie Mode: 360W
- Calibrated - 3D Mode: 390W
Picture Quality - 4K
When will that be? Well, there will definitely be satellite broadcasts of 4K content next year and RED, the company that makes 5K digital cameras for the film industry, has already shown their RedRay drive for 4K delivery. Hopefully CES 2013 will give us a better idea of what else is in the pipeline but in the meantime, a number of Blu-ray players and receivers offer 4K upscaling as part of their feature sets. We happened to have the Oppo BDP-105EU Blu-ray player and the Onkyo TX-NR5010 Receiver in for review at the same time as the 84LM960, which provided us with a chance to compare the 4K upscaling on all three devices. We watched the opening robbery from The Dark Knight three times, first using the built-in upscaling in the 84LM960 and then using the Oppo followed by the Onkyo. We couldn't tell any difference between the three upscalers, all of them delivered superb results with plenty of detail and great motion handling. Since we didn't have a 4K display available when testing previous devices that included 4K upscaling, at least we now know that these features work and work very well.
Picture Quality - 2D
Once we moved to high definition content the performance stepped up another gear, deinterlacing and scaling the 1080i TV broadcasts exceptionally well and delivering some very impressive big screen images. With Blu-rays, the performance was exceptional with the IMAX scenes from The Dark Knight Rises reveling in the accuracy of the picture and the sheer level of detail. In fact you could almost believe it was a 4K image, until that is you actually watch some native content and realise what that really looks like. The motion handling was also very impressive, with the 84LM960 showing no issues with 50Hz, 60Hz or 24p content.
Things weren't perfect of course with the mediocre black levels and patchy backlight mentioned in the test section, infringing on the enjoyment of some of the darker scenes. The local dimming certainly helped but as we have found with other LG TVs this year, there are other draw backs including some minor banding and loss of shadow detail. Whilst the use of an IPS panel does affect the native black levels, it does mean that the 84LM960 offers a wider viewing angle and the screen handled reflections well in day time viewing.
Picture Quality - 3D
We tried out a multitude of 3D content from a side-by-side recording of the Olympics opening ceremony to recent 3D purchases like Finding Nemo, as well as old favourites like Hugo and Happy Feet Two. The 84LM960 didn't put a foot wrong, delivering beautiful 3D images that offered amazing levels of detail with absolutely no distracting artefacts. The absence of crosstalk was remarkable, even on Happy Feet Two where the black penguins on white snow will challenge just about any 3D display. In fact the absence of any artefacts including flicker made for a wonderful 3D experience that was both relaxing and highly entertaining.
The 84-inch screen really came into its own with 3D, totally filling your field of view and immersing you in the three dimensional images. Thanks to the 84LM960 being able to produce images that were both bright and accurate, the level of depth on display was staggering. We found ourselves noticing details in the backgrounds of scenes from Avatar that we had never seen before and the layers of depth in Pixar's beautiful new 3D Blu-ray of Finding Nemo were equally breathtaking. The bright image and dimming nature of the glasses also mitigated the backlight and black level issues, whilst the motion handling was very impressive. In fact, it often felt like we were seeing some of these 3D discs for the first and given how often we've actually seen them, that's really saying something.
- Native 4K panel
- Reference 3D performance
- Excellent out-of-the-box performance
- Reference performance after calibration
- Impressive video processing
- Good off-axis performance
- Comprehensive calibration controls
- Excellent sound for a modern TV
- Built-in WiFi, Freeview HD and satellite tuner
- Reference smart TV platform
- Layout of Home Page is excellent
- Menu system is well designed and intuitive
- Magic Motion remote works really well
- Attractive design and superb build quality
- Native black levels and contrast could be better
- Obvious light pooling in the corners of the screen
- Input lag could be a problem for gamers
- It's not cheap, not cheap at all!
LG LM960 (84LM960) 84 Inch 4K Ultra HD LED LCD TV Review
As a technological statement, the LG 84LM960 is a remarkable achievement that gives us a glimpse of the future. Of course at £22,499 it's very expensive but if you cast your mind back ten years to the first flat panel displays, they weren't cheap either. In those days a 50" plasma that would have set you back ten grand, will now cost £500, so prices will drop and given how insanely competitive the consumer electronics market is, you can expect prices to drop a lot faster than they did with flat panel displays. The 84LM960 might well be a proof of concept aimed at the rich but rest assured, more affordable displays will come along soon enough and hopefully by then, there will be 4K content to actually watch.
We're certainly in for a treat when that 4K content does show up, if our brief experiences with the 84LM960 are anything to go by. The promise of 4K is a format that will offer a resolution that for the first time can truly match the best that the cinema has to offer and for film fans, that has to be exciting. In the meantime, we're stuck watching upscaled 1080p but luckily the 84LM960 does a fantastic job, thanks to a very accurate image and some superb video processing. However it's with 3D that the native 4K panel offers immediate benefits, delivering passive 3D with full 1080 resolution to each eye. The results are just jaw-dropping, with some of the best 3D we have ever seen - bright, big, detailed, plenty of depth and no crosstalk. Since the 84LM960 is LG's flagship TV, they have pulled out all the stops when it comes to design and build quality and thanks to some sizeable speakers, it also delivers the best sound we have heard from a TV in years. Once you throw in LG's reference Smart TV platform, two remotes, Game Play, built-in WiFi, well designed menus and exceptional calibration controls, you start to see a TV that can almost justify its hefty price tag. The use of an IPS panel results in excellent off-axis performance, but the trade-off is in black levels. Whilst the local dimming can help, this introduces it's own issues such as minor banding and loss of shadow detail. The only other real issue is that the use of LED edge lighting on a panel this big means it struggles to maintain an even backlight, which can be an issue when watching at night.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
3D Picture Quality
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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