The LG LM7600 series' beauty isn't skin-deep [pictures]
If you've been holding out for an LED TV with picture quality that mostly lives up to its stunning design and cutting-edge features, the LM7600 series deserves a look.
This late in the year it's rare for jaded TV reviewers like me to be surprised one way or the other by the picture quality of a TV, but the LG 47LM7600 threw me for a loop. I was expecting the same kind of lackluster picture I experienced with the LM6700 series, which seems nearly identical on paper, but the 7600's image was clearly better. It even outperformed the company's significantly more expensive flagship model, the LM9600. Don't ask me why, because I don't know.
Improved picture quality vaults the LM7600 into the small club of highly recommendable LED TVs this year. It packs in an excellent feature set, including a motion-control remote, extensive Smart doodads, and enough 3D glasses to outfit a large family. It also has one of the most handsome designs I've ever seen in a television. Yes, the LM7600 costs more than many of its competitors, particularly the excellent Vizio M3D0KD, the very good Sharp LC-LE640U, and a few of the best plasmas, but it might be worth the dough to people seeking a cutting-edge LED TV with all the fixins' and a good picture.
The winning design also extends to LG's unique motion-sensitive remote -- the only clicker on the market that's actually fun to use. LG doesn't include a normal remote with the LM7600; the little wand replaces a standard multibutton remote's cursor with Nintendo Wii-like motion control. You wave it at the TV and an onscreen cursor follows your movements precisely, allowing quicker selection of menu items and easier navigation in general. Responses were swift and the motion control was effortless.
The remote also has a scroll wheel that's a good idea executed poorly. It won't work on the settings menus, and scrolling during live TV while watching an external device caused an annoying message asking whether I wanted to change to the TV/antenna input. People who actually use the antenna might miss having numeric keys on the remote, but I didn't.
The jack pack is standard, with four HDMI and three USB ports. You'll have to choose between a single component or composite video source, available via included breakout cables, and VGA-style PC input (no breakout required) also makes the cut.
LG's passive 3D system means the company can afford to include more pairs of 3D glasses than its active-3D competitors, so the LM7600 comes with six, count 'em, six pairs. On the off chance that you need more, most cheap polarized 3D glasses should work.
The company's 2012 interface makes compelling use of motion control with multiple "cards" on the home screen: a live TV window and an ad below, a non-customizable Premium card of the best Smart TV apps, a card for 3D World, and another for LG Smart World. There's also a My Apps bar along the bottom of the screen where you can place shortcuts to menus, functions, and certain apps in any order.
LG's content selection is solid aside from two missing staples: Amazon Instant for video and Pandora for audio. The major apps I'd characterize as worthwhile are mostly grouped in the Premium section (don't worry, they're free) and include new entrant Rhapsody.
It's not every day that we encounter a television that has better picture quality than the more expensive version, but the LM7600 produced better image quality than the flagship LM9600 we reviewed earlier this year. Unfortunately we don't have the 9600 on hand anymore for a direct comparison, but judging from our comparisons with other TVs we do still have, and our measurements, the LM7600 is definitely superior.
This TV's relatively deep black levels are its main strength (twice as dark as the LM9600's). Its main weakness is imperfect screen uniformity, including some of the most noticeable hot spots I can remember seeing. I was also hampered by imperfect picture controls, so color accuracy suffered. Overall the LM7600 is not quite the match of the Vizio M550KD or especially the Sony HX850, but it keeps up with the Sharp LC-LE640U and outperforms most of the other LED TVs we've tested this year, earning 7 out of 10 in this category.