LED backlights come in a confusing array of configurations, but in our experience the best-performing varieties incorporate local dimming. This technology enables certain sectors of the backlight to dim independently of others, enabling better contrast and black level performance. We liked the LG LH90 best among the company's 2009 LCDs, mostly by virtue of its local dimming backlight, and in 2010 the LH90's spiritual successor is the LE8500 series.
These models, second from the top among LG's CES announcements after the flagship LE9500 series, offer local dimming yet still manage a cabinet depth of less than an inch (0.92 inches, to be exact). Unlike most thin LED sets, however, they're not edge-lit; they include a full array of LEDs behind the screen, and so might avoid some of the issues we've seen on edge-lit models, such as inferior uniformity. LG says that the 55-inch version has a total of 240 addressable zones, which doesn't mean much to us since other makers are mum on how many zones their local dimmers include. Speaking of other makers, the only current TV to combine a thin panel and a full array with local diming is the Samsung LN8500 series.
The LG also includes THX display certification, which might appeal to people who want a quick calibration. Our experience with the LH90, however, yielded better results after tweaking LG's extensive user-menu settings as opposed to using THX mode, and unlike that mode on Panasonic plasmas, the LG's THX settings can't be adjusted at all.
LG LE8500 series features:
- Full array LED backlight with local dimming
- 0.92 inch panel depth
- THX certification
- 240Hz refresh rate
- Netcast Interactive feature suite with Netflix, Vudu, Skype, Napster, YouTube and Yahoo Widgets
- DLNA compatible for music, photos and video
- Optional "Wireless Media Hub" interface
- Optional Wi-Fi connection
LG LE8500 series models:
- LG Infinia 55LE8500: 55-inch, price TBD, availability March 2010
- LG Infinia 47LE8500: 47-inch, price TBD, availability March 2010
Check out the writeup of the step-down LG LE7500 for more details on the other features listed above.