Overview

There are many questions to ask when buying a television, and one of them is, "Will this look good in my living room?" A TV is as much a piece of furniture as the stand it sits on, and the LG LM9600 comes the closest yet to looking like a piece of industrial art. It's just a pity, then, that the more important consideration -- "Is the picture any good?" -- is met with a reply of, "Not really." At its asking price, the LG is $1,000 more expensive than the much more capable Sony KDL-HX850 and $2,000 (!) more than the idol-killing Panasonic TC-ST50.

Picture quality has taken a dive from last year's LG flagship, with noticeably lighter black levels and an unnatural color palette. While it's possible to correct color I don't know why anyone would pay the money for this TV if he or she wanted to do any more than gawp at it with the power off.

The feature set is strong, however, with passive 3D a crowd favorite and a full complement of Internet video services. But as Samsung has shown this year with its gimmicky Smart Interaction function, a feature set may help sell the TV, but that doesn't mean you'll use it. Thankfully LG avoids this trap, but I wish the company had spent a bit more time on improving the picture.

With only $200 difference between this TV and the Sony XBR-HX929, there is no doubt as to which you should get: buy the Sony. It has one of the best LCD pictures on the market without the Sharp Elite's $5,000 price tag.

Read the full review of the 55-inch LG LM9600.

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Bezel

The bezel is the thinnest yet, with a 5-millimeter silver strip between where the room ends and your picture begins.
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Bottom bezel

The screen has to physically connect to the electronics somewhere, and it appears that it's in this thin wedge at the bottom.
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Stand

The TV's look may end up dividing families, but it's certainly distinctive.
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Controls

Physical controls lie at the back right-hand side.
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Profile

Because of the Nano light guide, the set remains ultraslim.
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Inputs

Four HDMI and three USB ports are highlights of the set's connectivity options.
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Magic Motion

Now with more buttons, a voice search-enabled microphone, and a clickwheel.
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Smart TV menu

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The full interface

Here as seen on the LG LM6700.
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Picture quality

While the LM9600's design is arguably the best on the market this year, as a flagship TV it performs relatively badly for the money. Black levels are half what they were a year ago on LG's 9700, yet the price has remained the same.

This being a direct LED TV, the amount of backlight bleed was even more pronounced than on last year's LG LW9800. Default colors were overly red in the THX and ISF modes -- which is a surprise -- and so to get the best color out of the TV we suggest following our own calibration settings.

Could it be that the sleek, high-level design has come at the expense of the picture?

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