One thing that LG have consistently done over the last three years is make sure that not only do their products offer excellent image quality and value for money, but they are also stuffed with the latest technology. LG are the most consistent brand when it comes to offering full calibration and set up options, along with neat features like Bluetooth and Net video. So, with that in mind, we are not surprised this flagship model has cutting edge technology like active shutter 3D playback and full array LED backlighting with local dimming; as well as a price tag to match. So is this flagship model the best yet from LG? Let’s find out!
Styling and connections
The downside to the full array LED approach is that like CCFL designs it requires space behind the LCD panel, which should equate to a thicker chassis than EDGE LED designs. However, this is where LG have been clever with their Infinia design as the LX9900 looks just as slim as some EDGE LED HDTVs on the market. Added to this is one of the slimmest bezels ever to appear on a consumer LCD TV, which almost has the entire screen image touching the extreme edge of the frame on three sides. Indeed, the side and top bezel measure just less than 1 inch with the bottom bezel hitting just under 2 inches. To the extreme edge the bezel turns from black to a see-through clear finish. With the LX9900 sitting next to our reference LX5090 plasma, the Pioneer looks flabby, chunky and out of date and, boy, do I relate to that!
Also included in the box with the LX9900 is a table top stand that requires a few minutes assembly time to attach to the screen. This is also well designed to fit the looks of the panel, with a glass bottom and clear see-through stand attachment.
There are two remote controls supplied with the LX9900. The first is a normal looking unit that houses all the direct access buttons you would expect to see. This is well laid out and easy to use with only the EPG guide button feeling out of place at the bottom of the unit. The remote sits easily in your hand and is intuitive to use. The second remote is a different breed altogether and is a thin designed unit with buttons for volume, channels and an off key. The remaining OK button activates an on-screen pointer when selected for the magic motion feature. This works in the same way as the Wii controller and allows you to make selections on menus, select devices and even play games on the TV. This is certainly a neat feature that will appeal to many users against using the larger more common remote control.
Menus and Set up
There are predefined picture presets ranging from Vivid (ouch), Standard, Cinema, Sport, Game and two ISF Expert selections. The eagle-eyed out there will notice that there is no THX Cinema or THX Bright Room presets on the UK version of the LX9900. This is somewhat disappointing and, when asked about this omission, LG UK told us that they didn’t have time to send the TV for THX appraisal due to the fact it needed to have the Freeview HD tuners installed. This is unfortunate as the LX9900 is supposed to be the flagship model and we would have expected it to carry an accurate preset for image quality out of the box. What might make this decision even more galling for UK consumers is the fact the Euro model (LX9500) is THX certified. On the LX9900 we are left with a Cinema preset which we will measure later to see how accurate this is towards the picture standards.
The LX9900 features a full 10 point Greyscale option so that each step of the Greyscale can be individually set allowing RGB fine tuning not seen on many other consumer TVs. This allows the image to achieve the perfect White Balance for content you watch at the desired D65 level. Also included are presets for Gamma reproduction and a 2D Colour Management System (CMS). This should allow the LX9900 to be fully calibrated to the correct levels for TV and Film playback.
The LG also allows pixel mapping of HD signals and this should be set up on each input where you are feeding the TV an HD source. This is done by selecting the Just Scan option in the aspect ratio menu. For those who also watch a lot of SD material it may be an idea to set the tuner to 16:9 which adds in about 5% overscan hiding the white lines and other sync code hidden at the far edges of SD programming (Unless you select HD channels where you will want to have just scan selected).
Another piece of technology developed for the LX9900 is its 400Hz Trumotion scanning backlight frame interpolation system. This is claimed to work with the localised dimming of the LED backlight to help produce interpolated frames that improves image flicker and motion blur. As with any system like this; its use will be very much user dependant and down to personal taste, as it changes the look and feel of video and film material in quite an obvious manner.
Starting with the Greyscale and we are looking for the red, green and blue lines in the RGB balance chart to converge together on the 100% line. As we can see green is high at 10% over and red is low by about the same margin. Only blue tracks close to the 100% point on the graph, where we want all three to merge. This illustrates that on-screen images will have a green cast to them (this was easy to see with normal content). However the plus point here with our results is that all three points are uniform in their tracking, i.e. they are almost straight lines from the low end to the high. This should mean that by using the 10 point correction, included in the expert menus, we should be able to calibrate the Greyscale accurately. While the results here are not bad they are visible on screen with a green cast to the image. This result differs from the LE8900 that Steve reviewed recently which had the THX preset available. So again we have to ask why THX is missing here?
The other important boxes on our measurement screen above are the luminance points for the primary and secondary colours. These points are in fact more important to get right than the points on the 2D CIE chart. This is because the luminance charts are the third dimension of our results and affect how bright those colour points are. They could line up perfectly on the CIE chart where we want them, but if the luminance (brightness) of that colour is too high then that error will be more obvious when we view normal material on screen. We need to look at both the overall Gamut Luminance box and the DeltaL box to see our luminance errors. The grey bars are the brightness of the colour they are next to and the DeltaL chart shows us the errors associated with that colour. We want the grey bars as close as possible to the same height as the colour and the DeltaL results as close to 0 as possible. The last two boxes (DeltaC and DeltaH) represent the saturation and hue errors of the colours and reflect what we see in the main CIE chart.
So after that quick explanation, we can see that luminance is high on all the colour points, but it is under 4 which can be considered a good result but errors are likely to be seen when watching normal on-screen material. The overall DeltaE 1994 results give us the overall errors and we can see that they are under 5 which is again a good result, but we should be able to get them a lot better with calibration.
In terms of watching material, out of the box, the results show that the colours should look natural enough, with just a slight green cast caused by a greyscale that is not quite perfect. This shouldn’t affect viewing too much in the Cinema mode and it is our recommended setting for watching all material out of the box on this TV. All the remaining picture modes (barring the expert modes which are identical to Cinema for Greyscale and Colour Gamut), produced results that were far in excess of the desired points to match the picture with the content you will watch on the TV.
And the same can be said for the Colour Gamut. They are reference level in our opinion. We can see that the most important element of a correct gamut, Luminance, is almost bang on with just yellow showing an error of 1. This will not be seen when playing normal content on the TV. If we look at the CIE chart, we can see that the white point is now correct and the secondary points are also corrected due to that and, some slight use of the CMS system. Only red gave us any real issue and in the end this was balanced using the CMS so that luminance was corrected first which gave us a slight deltaC error of 2, but again this will not likely be noticed with normal viewing.
Overall the results here are reference level and show why a pro calibration would be a must to get the best out of the LX9900 for watching content as it should be seen.
The video processing on the LX9900 was a bit hit and miss with the majority of tests performed. The biggest issue was the lack of correct 2:2 cadence detection with film material and a slight lack of jaggies suppression with diagonal deinterlacing on SD material. Both these issues were highlighted using the usual test material. Scaling, on the other hand, was processed correctly giving a pleasing image with no added edge enhancements, blurring or ringing. Only occasionally were jaggies seen with SD material. Unsurprisingly even though 2:2 detection was not present, the LG did resolve the NTSC centric 3:2 cadence.
With HD material the LG managed to cope with 1080i material well with no signs of behind the scenes processing. Plus the playback of 24p Blu-ray was very good with no induced judder with film content. In the past some LG displays have added unwanted sharpening to HD images, even with the edge enhancement and sharpness controls set correctly. Thankfully, on the LX9900, there is no such issue with HD material looking pin sharp without any added extras.
Moving to the Trumotion 400Hz processing, this was entertaining if not for the right reasons. As with any frame interpolation system, motion was improved but with that came the usual ‘soap opera’ digital camera look. With film material, in SD or HD, the content looked like it had been shot on cheap digital cameras and had an unrealistic feel with motion. Scenes from the latest 'Star Trek' film on Blu-ray were a perfect example, where the camera is supposed to be handheld and moving around as if you are in the scene with the actors. This look was completely destroyed by the Trumotion system with the jerky camera moves gone and replaced with a smooth TV studio look that completely killed the atmosphere and intended look of the film. We would therefore recommend that Trumotion remains off for film playback. Where it might be useful, in the lowest setting, is with TV material such as some sports footage. Here it can look reasonable, but again I personally could tell processing was going on behind the scenes and preferred to leave the system switched off.
The LX9900 managed to resolve 600 moving lines of resolution with additional processing switched off, and 1080 lines with the Trumotion switched on. However, although that result appears great for an LCD, the downside was excessive image artefacts with the Trumotion system engaged. So while it may resolve 1080 lines it does so with serious side effects. The use of the Trumotion 400Hz system is really going to be a personal call and our advice would be to use it sparingly with TV content and not at all with film. At least there is a choice to have it on or off.
Gaming performance on the LX9900 comes in two flavours. The most appealing is in 3D with the small number of titles available on some consoles. This is a great experience and is where we feel that 3D should really take off as it adds that extra sense of immersive game play. But if you want to stick with your normal 2D game titles then the lag time of the LX9900 is a quite average 35ms in the games preset.
Ignoring the many eco features on the LX9900 which will affect the consumption in varying amounts, although for accurate images we would recommend they are left off, the LG still manages to be up to three times more efficient than the latest eco Plasma screens. In Cinema mode, with localised dimming switched on, we measured 0IRE at 78 watts, 50IRE at 80 watts and 100IRE at 84 watts. In calibrated mode the results were 80, 84 and 88 watts respectively. In standby the LX9900 uses just 1 watt.
Picture Quality – 2D
There are however a couple of small niggles that do concern us when watching the LX9900. The first is that with uniform images, such as football pitches in wide shots you can see the backlight layout which looks like light source banding in certain areas of the screen. This is noticeable when looking for issues and it may very well annoy some users. However, this was never a particularly distracting aspect to viewing material on the LG, we mention it for completeness of our viewing assessment. The other issue is with the viewing angle of the TV. Whilst it does use an IPS panel, the localised dimming backlight can introduce some halos which are quite noticeable from viewing angles of more than 30 degrees. So whilst most viewing from directly in front of the screen is pretty solid, with only very slight halos seen with tricky material now and again, the further off-axis you view the more the issue becomes apparent. This is down to the way the LED backlighting works and there is nothing you can do to resolve this issue; it’s inherent to the design.
In calibrated mode the LG really does produce an excellent and accurate image that has plenty of punch and a natural colour palette. Blacks are rich and skin tones represent what you are supposed to see within your content. Only in the deepest areas of black does shadow detailing start to disappear but the overall image, for an LCD, is very good indeed. There are drawbacks, as mentioned with viewing angles and slight halos, so make sure this set will fit within the layout of your viewing environment.
The above assessment is with the localised dimming switched on, but the same is also true for having this switched off. The obvious drawback of that is the lack of deep black levels as the whole screen is now a normal backlit LCD. In this mode, blacks are not as deep and contrast performance does suffer. However, colour reproduction and Greyscale performance (when calibrated) is still very good if not perfect. We would suggest using the dimming if you are seated within the sweet spot of the off-axis viewing arc.
The LG is capable of producing very good image quality with many strong points; it will provide the kind of performance required of a main living room TV, with some slight reservations over viewing angles, backlight banding and halos. We would as always suggest you demo the TV for yourself to gauge how important or not those slight reservations are to you. Potential purchasers should also examine the glass frontage of the TV for reflections if placing this set in an overly bright room.
Picture Quality – 3D
There has been some discussion regarding industry standards for 3D playback in the home and, as yet, none have been formalised. This is due to the image needing plenty of light to combat the drop in brightness when wearing the 3D glasses, whilst also being able to produce a balanced Greyscale and Colour Gamut as with 2D images. It is right to assume that when the content is produced and authored, it is done so with the same equipment and standards in place, like normal 2D content. However, this doesn’t take into account the brightness that will be required for use with the glasses. There is a suggestion that we should calibrate the image through the glasses to take this into account, however, only professional calibrators or reviewers with expensive non-contact meters would be able to attempt this, so it becomes a moot point for the end user at this moment in time as they will not be able to follow suit. Plus we also don’t feel that the current standards can be applied with the issue of brightness due to various technical restraints. As such, and until there is a standard available to match, we will review the 3DTV’s we get for review in the same set up options consumers have with any 3DTV they buy.
For this review we found that the calibrated modes for 2D were too dull to fully experience the 3D aspects of the image and, as such, we sacrificed the calibrated mode for the standard picture preset for 3D playback. This takes into account the light drop off when using the glasses and that some colour shift will take place.
The 3D experience produced by the LX9900 is appealing with no obvious issues to take you out of the experience. However, watching during the day or in a bright room, does show up the glasses flickering at the high refresh rate. This is not as visible in a dim viewing environment. With Blu-ray movie material such as ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’, there are very few instances of crosstalk and the image appears crisp and well detailed. Colour balance on most material is also acceptable and at no time did it distract by being over saturated or too vivid in its reproduction.
Switching to the Sky TV material and this is where things can vary in terms of image performance. With football coverage in 3D the instances of crosstalk (ghosting images caused by slow response time), are more prevalent and easier to notice in normal viewing. I also noticed a little more flicker with side by side material but this could just be down to personal perception and is something that should be demoed.
The glasses used are more comfortable than the Panasonic glasses and felt lighter. They are also rechargeable which is a big plus point if you plan on using the 3D modes on a regular basis. The only downside to the LG approach is that if you start to turn the glasses to the side, the image gets darker. If you lie down on the sofa, with the glasses at 90 degrees, you will see nothing as the glasses go black at this angle. So if you want to enjoy the full 3D experience with the LG glasses, you need to sit up straight. This is not an issue with the Panasonic approach. LG also need to be congratulated in providing two pairs of glasses in the box, but again if you have a large family it is going to cost you around £60-£100 per extra pair.
Whilst not perfect, and with some obvious signs of crosstalk with certain material, the overall 3D experience is one that will appeal to those who want the technology now and the LX9900 produces a very serviceable 3D effect. However, we felt that the LG just lags behind the Panasonic VT20 for overall 3D quality with all available material and it's lack of crosstalk effects.
- Cinema mode offers respectable image quality out of the box that gets pretty close to being accurate
- This is a beautifully designed HDTV
- Magic Motion remote control actually works and is not just a gimmick
- Reference level Greyscale performance when calibrated
- Reference level Colour Gamut performance when calibrated
- Excellent black levels with localised dimming
- Good screen uniformity with the LED backlight system
- Full ISFccc controls
- Good quality 3D playback with most content
- Two pairs of 3D glasses included in the box
- Comfortable and rechargeable 3D glasses.
- Freeview HD tuner
- Excellent menu system
- Off-axis viewing introduces visible halos around objects due to localised dimming.
- Some crosstalk visible with 3D viewing
- No THX preset modes!
- Deinterlacing and cadence detection could be better
- Limited Netcast features
- Games input lag could be better
- Some slight backlight banding visible
LG LX9900 (47LX9900) 3DTV Review
However, as with every TV on the market, there are issues to be aware of. The glass screen can be extremely reflective in a bright room, there are issues with backlight banding on some uniform images, and off-axis viewing can produce halo effects that are visible from about 30 degrees or more to the screen. These issues may not be a big deal for the vast majority of users but if you consider yourself a videophile, who has to have a screen for absolute accurate viewing, you may be better looking elsewhere for absolute image quality.
The other issue to think about is the value of the 3D playback of this TV. If you are just not interested in 3D, but want the same slim design and image quality, you are probably better looking at the LE8900. This is basically the same TV but without the 3D technology, although the LE8900 does also have the more accurate THX picture preset out of the box, which the LX9900 doesn’t offer. As they say the choice is yours.
Overall I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of 2D image on offer from the LX9900 and its good 3D playback skills. It’s not perfect, and it does cost a lot, but if you want good accurate images, a nice slim design and 3D to boot, we recommend you go and demo the LX9900.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
3D Picture Quality
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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