Design & Connections
Once in to the the Picture menu, we find options for Aspect Ratio (choose Just Scan for HD); Energy Saving - that just dims the picture so we disabled it and Picture Mode options of Cinema, Game, Vivid and Standard plus the two, aforementioned, Expert ISF settings allowing access to the advanced picture controls and for the creation of distinct settings for day and night time viewing.
In addition to the 2 and 10 point white balance sliders we have an option for choosing a base Colour Gamut offering choices of Standard and Wide in addition to the EBU, SMPTE and BT709 standards, some global pre-set gamma choices and there’s also a 2D Colour Management System(CMS) present.
Having measured both of the Expert isf modes, we found isf 1 to offer the closest to our target gamma value of 2.2 whilst sharing the same greyscale performance. We then set our Brightness and Contrast controls using PLUGE patterns and it might be worth noting that default contrast was heavily clipping; so well worth the investment in getting some test patterns for any owners out there.
Moving on to the un-calibrated colour performance and we took measurements using the Wide, Standard and BT709 Colour Gamut options and were surprised to see very little actual difference between any of them, with Wide actually, very marginally, closer to the Rec 709 standard we’re targeting. This is a pretty good set of measurements for the LV550, with only the off-hue performance of green of any real concern – and then only in a minor way. All colours were a little under illuminated but we wouldn’t necessarily need a CMS to fix that. We’re unlikely to be able to fully saturate cyan but, again, it’s of no huge concern
The only slight detriment to the controls not working how they should was that we were unable to fine tune our gamma response, meaning were revealing a little more shadow detail than we would wish for, but that’s being very picky as a stair-step pattern revealed perfect neutrality – as far as the eye is concerned – and we were ready for our colour calibration…
We were able to, mostly, fix our hue error with green but it came at the expense of saturation and it was a tricky trade-off to call. On balance, on screen material looked marginally better more on-hue and less saturated, rather than vice versa, but had lighting conditions been less favourable, we may have gone the other way. As expected, we couldn’t fully fix the saturation of Cyan but with overall DeltaE’s measuring below 2.3 – across the board - we could be well satisfied with results!
Continuing in the vein of the numerous other LGs we’ve seen this year, the LV550T fair flew through this area of testing. The LG scaled both 480i and 576i very well, with no apparent loss of detail or ringing. Both video and motion adaptive deinterlacing were also handled competently, with only jaggies appearing on the most testing of material as was video text overlaid on film based material. Blu-ray 24p content was also correctly displayed but it would be a crime, nowadays, if it weren’t. The 550T also had no problems in locking on to the most common PAL (2:2) and NTSC (2:3) cadences, which is a refreshing change from many of the latest review samples we've received.
The LG LV550 was capable of displaying all the way up to peak white (video level 255), with no signs of clipping once the Contrast control was reigned in and showed detail down to video level 17. We had a play around with the TruMotion interpolation settings and found that a custom setting of De-Judder to 0 and De-Blur to 3 brought about a small improvement in motion clarity, with little to no artefacting, but we’d only recommend its use with video based material.
All in all, it’s an excellent set of results for the LV550T and they’re up there with Samsung, at the moment, but without any of the back-door processing we see from their (fierce) Korean competitors.
LG have hardly been endearing themselves to the gaming fraternity with their 2011 ranges – 60 milliseconds lag is the best we’ve seen from an LG this year – and that’s hardly a stellar result - so we were very pleased to see the LV550T comfortably out-perform its siblings in returning figures between just 1 and 2 frames, at 60 frames per second. The 550T returned figures ranging between 16 and 31 milliseconds, in Game mode, with most being closer to the 30 millisecond mark. We can certainly report to have experienced no performance hit at these kind of numbers and we expect that will hold true for the vast majority of gamers out there.
Whilst the LV550T may not be enough to bring a smile to the face of your average Governor of California, it certainly returns excellent figures for power consumption. In its calibrated state, the 550 consumed a mere averaged 56w. Out of the box, in Standard mode, consumption rose to an average of 89w. Now there’s a way to sell a calibration to the other half!
Where the LG LV550T did shine (pun not intended) was in a brighter environment, thanks to plenty of light output and the matte screen, although the pooling issue was still even visible here. Motion wasn't handled particularly well, with quite a lot of smearing, although we did find some assistance from TruMotion set very conservatively, with fast moving video action. With the right (i.e. bright) content, the 550T produced detailed, natural looking images and its relatively wide viewing angles, on the horizontal axis, means placement would probably not be an issue but we were far too often distracted by issues created by the technology. It seems ironic that just as manufacturers were getting to grips with producing CCFL TVs with good uniformity they suddenly all switched to LED but we do understand the pressure they're under to produce energy efficient goods; and that the LV550T is.
- Viewing angles
- Calibrated images looked excellent
- Video processing
- Low input lag for an LG!
- Energy consumption figures are very low
- Light pooling
- Haloing around objects
- Smeary motion, at times
- 10 point white balance unusable on this sample
- Calibration is frustrating due to menu system
LG LV550T (42LV550T) Full HD LED LCD TV Review
The LG LV550T is a victim of the technology it employs. Had it not been for the pooling and haloing issues, that are a common bi-product of LED edge-lit TVs, the LG would have no doubt been a worthy recipient of a AVForums Recommended award. Unfortunately, such was the distraction the lighting issues caused, we found ourselves restricted to enjoying the 550's beautifully calibrated, detailed images with only the brightest of content in less than optimum viewing conditions; even then they occasionally intruded. Unless manufacturers can find ways of making more affordable LED backlit sets we might just find ourselves saying, come back CCFL, all is forgiven.
The LG LV550T is typically styled for their Infinia range with its tinted black bezel framed either side by slim transparent strips, left and right. The remote is also familiar LG, all clicky but responsive and well laid out. The - new for 2011 - annoyance of having to navigate through the Home dashboard to enter the Setup menus also reared its head too and makes calibration far more of a chore than it really should be.
Although shorn of the 3D capabilities of its more illustrious stable-mates, the LG LV550 is not bereft of features with the full LG Smart TV suite at its disposal, including the likes of BBC iPlayer and Twitter. We were surprised by the bugs we encountered using the 10 point white balance controls but fortunately the 2 point worked flawlessly and we were still able to produce reference greyscale and gamma results with colour reproduction excellent, out of the box, and slightly improved through calibration. Video processing was of a high standard with scaling, deinterlacing and cadence detection tasks handled with proficiency; Blu-ray 24p material was also handled correctly. Two other areas where the LG LV550 did hit the mark were in its low figures for energy consumption and input lag, with an averaged 56w consumption and 30 milliseconds latency, making this the first LG we've been able to recommend to gamers this year.
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