What is the LG Nano90?
While we review most of the LG OLEDs every year for AVForums, we haven’t seen one of their NanoCell LCD models for a number of years now. Positioned towards the top of their NanoCell range the Nano90 is a 65-inch LCD TV using an IPS panel and Full Array Local Dimming (FALD) backlight with 32 separate zones.
NanoCell is an LG colour filter technology which is claimed creates brighter and more vivid colours and this year the IPS also has an adaptive backlight which uses power to highlight areas more effectively and create better contrast from the TVs images. IPS panels have excellent off-axis viewing angles but at the expense of deep blacks and contrast. The adaptive backlight sends power to where it is required the most and no power where the image should be black, thus creating better contrast to images.
The Nano90 uses the α7 Gen3 Processor 4K for its upscaling and video processing along with WebOS for the Smart TV system duties. All the major VOD apps are supported as always by WebOS, but as with this years OLED TVs there is no Freeview Play, so no BBC iPlayer and other terrestrial catch-up services in the UK. At the time of this review in August 2020 that issue is yet to be rectified by LG.
Dolby features strongly on the Nano90 with Dolby Vision, Dolby Vision IQ HDR and Dolby Atmos sound all available, along with the new Filmmaker Mode picture preset. Filmmaker Mode is a one-button press image preset that puts the TV in the most accurate (to the industry standards) picture preset and switches off all the unnecessary image processing and smoothing. That means for SDR it sets the TV in D65 white, Rec.709 HD colour and BT.1886 gamma. For HDR10 content that is D65 white, Rec.2020 colour and ST.2084 PQ EOTF. Dolby Vision IQ uses a light sensor to create accurate images to the creator’s intent but at a brightness level that suits the viewing environment.
The Nano90 is available at the time of this review in August 2020 in 55-inch at £1,199, 65-inch at £1,499 and 75-inch at £2,499.
Design, Connections and Control
The first thing you notice on unpacking the Nano90 is that it is thicker than most modern TVs and OLEDs, but that is no bad thing as we don’t watch a TV from the side. The bezel and chassis are noticeably plastic in construction, and the feet stands, which sit either side of the panel, are also rather bland and serviceable in look. Obviously design is a subjective matter and LG is looking at hitting a price point with the Nano90. We didn’t find the use of plastics objectionable in any way, it’s just that the TV will not win any design awards, it looks and feels functional.
The panel is wide and the plastic feet sit at the far ends, which means you will need a wide mounting surface if you are not wall mounting the Nano90. Our trusted TV stand was just not wide enough for this 65-inch model and I had to use a subwoofer next to the stand and two Blu-ray cases to level up the TV during the review time. Obviously, if you are buying the Nano90 you need to make sure it will fit your existing stand or buy a new one to fit. Sadly, there is no option to mount the feet closer to the centre of the TV. You could also buy a Vesa mount stand to get around the issue of the feet being so wide.
We didn’t find the use of plastics objectionable in any way
The connections are positioned around the back and consist of sideways and downward-facing ports. To the side, we have a CI slot and four HDMI ports. The first two are HDMI 2.0b ports and HDMI 3 & 4 are full bandwidth 48Gbps HDMI 2.1 ports (as verified by our Murideo Seven Generator). Below these are two USB ports. Downwards we have a third USB port, a LAN and digital audio output, a satellite and RF antenna, and a headphone/audio out port.
The remote control supplied with the LG Nano90 is identical to those supplied with the OLED models with the magic wand control. This fits neatly in the hand with all the most important buttons close to hand.
Out of the box
As we always do with our reviews, we measured the out of the box picture presets to find those that get as close as possible to the industry standards. The idea is that a TV must get close to these standards in at least one of its picture modes so end users can see content as it was mastered and intended to be seen.
The new Filmmaker Mode is the obvious choice for the most accurate image quality to the industry standards. This mode also switches off all the unnecessary video processing, noise reduction and image smoothing so you get the most direct and accurate image possible to what the content was mastered on.
Looking at the greyscale and once again the Filmmaker Mode is accurate enough to give us no visible errors in the majority of the tracking scale. The local dimming does affect results, even in the off position with gamma not quite able to track fully to the BT.1886 standard, but the effects on the actual image with film and TV content is not a major one given other factors like a lack of image contrast from the IPS panel. The graph could have looked better, but the actual performance was accurate enough given the technology used.
The Rec.709 HD colour gamut results are also impressive for an out of the box picture preset with almost all of the saturation tracking points falling close to where they should be. Indeed, overall DeltaE errors were just under the visible threshold, which is excellent.
We have a full set of calibration controls available within the Nano90 menus, but we can also use the AutoCal feature within our Calman calibration software. We actually tried both methods and attained the same results with each approach. The local dimming nature of the TV, even with the feature disabled, did impact slightly with the results.
Looking at the greyscale we can see reference level results here with DeltaE errors well under the visible threshold of three, which means there are no errors visible in the image. Our average DeltaE error was just 0.7. Gamma also tracked well towards the BT.1886 standard and overall we achieved reference results with the greyscale.
Moving to the Rec.709 Hd colour gamut, we also achieved reference level results here with all the saturation points there or thereabouts to their squares and a DeltaE error average of just 0.8 which is well below the visible threshold of three, meaning there are no errors seen within TV and film content viewed on the LG Nano90.
We measured the peak brightness of the LG Nano90 in the most accurate HDR picture mode to D65 white, ST.2084 PQ EOTF and DCI-P3 colour gamut within BT.2020. We ran a number of windows from 1% to 100%.
The Nano90 manages a peak brightness on the industry-standard 10% window of 470 nits. This is lower on smaller boxes as the tone mapping and local dimming attempts to get around issues of blooming. Things settle to a 100% full-screen brightness of 371 nits.
The tracking to the PQ EOTF ST.2084 standard is slightly different for 1000 and 4000 nits content types. With 1000 nits content it follows the standard with a slight brightening until a hard clip at the peak brightness level.
With 4000 nits content, the Nano90 adds in a smoother tone map to try and retain more detail in the specular highlights and balance the HDR image. There is still a slight brightening on the curve, but this is not noticeable within the actual viewing material.
The saturation tracking to DCI-P3 colour gamut within BT.2020 is also accurate if a little short of full coverage. It doesn’t quite get wide enough to cover 100% of the gamut, being short with yellow, green and cyan. But from 75% and below in terms of the saturation tracking is very good indeed and should translate to very good colour volume with HDR content.
We measured BT.2020 at 62% XY and 68% UV. With P3 coming in at 86% XY and 93% UV.
The LG Nano90 we are reviewing is the 65-inch version which uses a FALD backlight with 32 separate dimmable zones. It also utilises the α7 Gen3 Processor for its video processing and other features, and the Nano90 also uses the WebOS smart TV OS.
Watching the Nano90 in dim surroundings did highlight issues with blooming around bright objects against dark backgrounds
Panel uniformity is decent but there are darker edges and corners to the screen when displaying bright images or 100% window patterns with a brighter centre area. It was the reverse when displaying a 5% full-screen field with brighter edges and corners and a darker centre. There were also signs of dirty screen effect on moving images and some banding was seen with football viewing as the camera moved quickly over the pitch area. These are of course familiar technical restrictions of the LCD technologies used.
Watching the Nano90 in dim surroundings did highlight issues with blooming around bright objects against dark backgrounds, especially with HDR content. Black bars on scope films remained black for the most part but did lighten when a bright object within the movie was close to them. Blooming was, however, more distracting around objects within content than the black bars getting lighter now and again. We also couldn’t find a local dimming setting where the algorithm wasn’t caught out every once in a while. When a scene changed from dark to bright or vise versa you could see the dimming being caught out for a second before deciding how to deal with the scene. It was even more noticeable if it was a tough mixed scene, like Peter waking up in the captain’s cabin in Pan, where there was some mild pumping of the backlight. These issues did not appear all the time with most content but were very noticeable when they did appear.
Video processing was very good on the Nano90 with excellent upscaling of SD and HD images to the native resolution of the panel without any fizzing or ringing to straight edges and lines. The motion was also good with 24fps material looking correct with no induced judder or image trailing. TruMotion is available for those who want to watch sports and fast-moving video content with some interpolation added. There is plenty of adjustment available for those who want to experiment.
Sound quality is decent for a large TV with downward-firing speakers producing clear dialogue and a nice expansive soundstage
One of the strengths of using an IPS panel is the viewing angles and the Nano90 does produce watchable images when viewing well off-axis by up to 60 degrees before issues become noticeable. However, the downside to using this type of panel is the lack of image contrast and weak looking black levels, especially when viewing in dim surroundings. Even with HDR content, the Nano90 never quite manages to produce a dynamic looking image without a lack of greyness or not quite producing the highlight pop that the best TVs, even LCDs, can produce.
Where the Nano90 really performs well is in a typical living room with ambient lighting present. In such surroundings, many of the weak points are not as noticeable and the LG manages to produce nice colourful images with a decent depth and motion. Image accuracy is impressive with life-like skin tones and decent well-saturated colours that contain plenty of depth and detail in the Filmmaker mode. The trick is not to use the much brighter (and bluer) standard and vivid modes as these destroy detail and image accuracy for the sake of a bright and colourful, yet fake looking image. A quick flick through the image presets can make an accurate image look slightly dull in comparison, but spending time in an accurate picture mode pays off big style with superb natural-looking images you know are accurate to what was intended. The strength of the Nano90 is in its everyday TV role where it remains accurate for colour and detail.
HDR performance is satisfactory from the Nano90 given the technology used and the price point, but it falls behind the more advanced VA based LCD TVs from Samsung and Hisense to name two. The main obvious difference, in dim viewing conditions, is the lack of contrast and dynamic range, even in the best settings. The Nano90 doesn’t quite have the pop we expect to see from an HDR image. In brighter surroundings, there are fewer issues with the local dimming or lack of contrast, but the image quality is never more than decent, even with Dolby Vision content. Obviously being an LCD model there are no issues with automatic brightness limiting of the image, so highlights remain bright without the image dimming within some scenes, like the snow-covered ground in The Revenant. But when compared to its peers the LG just lacks that cutting edge in the contrast department. Dolby Vision IQ has some features, like TruMotion switched on and greyed out. You need to go to the AI Service menu and switch off the Genre control to unlock the greyed out settings in Dolby Vision IQ.
Where the Nano90 really performs well is in a typical living room with ambient lighting present
As a TV for watching movies in a dim room, there are much better examples on the market than this Nano90, but for normal living room duties and gaming, it is a much better bet. Input lag is 16ms and two of the HDMI inputs are full-fat HDMI 2.1 at 48Gbps. This means there is support for VRR, Freesync and ALLM, along with a setting for HGIG, so you should be all set for the new consoles on the way, although nobody really knows if anything will arrive that needs all that bandwidth, at least you’ll be able to take it if it does.
- Filmmaker mode in SDR and HDR is accurate
- Calman Autocal support
- Wide viewing angles
- FALD backlight
- Decent video processing and motion
- WebOS Smart Platform is still the best
- HDMI 2.1 inputs
- Decent gaming TV with 16ms Input Lag
- VRR, ALLM and Freesync supported
- Only 32 dimming zones
- Image blooming
- Lack of contrast and dynamic range from IPS panel
- No Freeview Play in the UK
- HDR could be better, even Dolby Vision lacks impact
LG Nano90 LCD TV Review
Overall, the LG Nano90 is a competent LED LCD TV that has the usual issues associated with the technology and performs adequately with all the various content thrown at it. It performs well in a normal living room with an accurate image quality that displays content as it should be seen and will handle hours of gaming and the latest consoles, thanks to it’s two HDMI 2.1 ready inputs. The Nano90 is not suited to use in a dimly lit room for critical movie watching as the drawback of this type of panel and the lack of dimming zones just highlights the weaknesses. It is far more successful as a living room workhorse with the lights kept on.
Build quality is reasonable for the price point and the smart TV system is still one of the very best available on the market. Sadly, there is no Freeview Play and there are no signs of the terrestrial catch-up apps appearing from the likes of the BBC iPlayer in the near future, but it does have Disney + and Apple TV+ apps available.
Sound quality is decent for a large TV with downward-firing speakers producing clear dialogue and a nice expansive soundstage. It will, of course, be outperformed by a standalone soundbar for movie watching, but for day to day run of the mill TV viewing it is perfectly adequate.
And that word seems to sum the Nano90 up for me. It is not a world-beater and it doesn’t suddenly reshape the LCD TV landscape with its performance attributes. It’s not a dedicated movie TV for bringing Hollywood to your home in the dark, but within the right environment, the image quality looks accurate and detailed, with decent motion. It has good Smart TV, good input lag for gaming and is a strong performer with the lights on.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
SDR Picture Quality
HDR Picture Quality
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box
Picture Quality Calibrated
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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