Price (RRP): $4599
Well, it’s finally happened: LG has clearly joined the front ranks of the premium TV makers. LG has packed into the 55LM9600 LCD TV a combination of picture quality, features and styling that puts it in the top league.
A 139 cm (55 inch) LCD TV, it has just about every feature you’d expect in 2012 model, along with a couple unique to the brand.
It looks startling, especially when it’s running, because there is very little in the way of border around the picture. The bezel, such as it is, is a very thin aluminium strip, perhaps a millimetre wide. There’s about two more millimetres of glass, and then the picture starts. More than any other TV yet, this one makes a picture that looks like it’s floating in the air.
It is also a picture capable of 3D using LG’s ‘Passive 3D’ system. This avoids expensive active glasses, so you get four sets of passive 3D eyewear in the box. You also get two sets of eyewear for LG’s ‘Dual Play’ display effect. This works with two-player games which have their player views split on the screen, one top and one bottom. This mode uses the TV’s 3D capabilities to have both views on the screen at the same time, and in full screen. Wearing the 3D glasses, each player is able to see only his or her own picture view. Very clever.
The TV has Ethernet and WiFi, and a massive array of network content thereby provided. Not least is BigPond Movies, plus assorted catch-up services for TV stations, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter. Plus there’s some LG-only stuff, of which ‘3D World’ is the most interesting. Don’t have many Blu-ray 3D discs? Well, LG World gives you online 3D content – mostly show-off stuff – to make use of its capabilities.
Last year’s ‘Magic Motion’ remote control is now standard, and upgraded. This is a remote which talks to your TV by radio frequency rather than IR, and which you use mostly by pointing an onscreen arrow at things and clicking.
This model also has a microphone. You can speak into this and your voice is turned into text which is then fed into a search facility for content available in the TV, or into the search box in the web browser.
Oddly, there isn’t that much to say on the performance front. Basically because everything worked just as it should. The Magic Motion remote control was usable in normal TV watching, but truly useful when it came to selecting things from the screen – such as music or photos from the Digital Living Network Alliance content the unit could access from computers on the same network. Point and click. Easy.
Talking into the remote worked quite well, too, although it seems at this point to be a feature in search of a more useful function. The web browser was pretty snappy in operation, but if you have a computer handy you’re going to find that easier to use.
But speaking of remote controls, there are also iOS and Android apps for controlling the TV over the network. Nothing too unusual there. Except that the TV can reflect regular TV stations (not external inputs) back to the portable device, giving you a useful second screen anywhere that your home network reaches.
The 2D picture quality was really quite nice. The black levels were strong and in scenes where parts of the screen were dark and parts were bright, the localised LED backlighting did a fine job of showing both to best effect. Importantly, the default picture settings – the ‘Standard’ picture mode – were very close to optimum calibrated settings, so you get an excellent picture right out of the box.
Truly, this TV is a pleasure to watch as well as use. And that’s particularly so when it comes to 3D.
Don’t get me wrong, the passive 3D system used by this TV has its drawbacks. Because it basically offers only half the display resolution for each eye you must sit further away from it during 3D display than with an active 3D TV. But you are rewarded for that by getting an impressive 3D effect with no visible ghosting at all, a rare feat for TVs.
LG’s 55LM9600 TV is the best yet from that company, and in many ways challenges the best available from any other brand.