LG LM9600 review: LG LM9600

LG's Smart TV content selection features most of the popular media apps, including Hulu Plus and Netflix, but lacks Amazon Instant for video and Pandora for audio. If you're looking for 3D content, LG offers a number of clips and full programs, though the quality varies.

The company offers an app store called LG Smart World, and while most of the content is minigames, there a few useful additions, such as NBA Game Time/Game Center and XOS College Sports. Unfortunately, downloading even free apps from the World requires you to create an ID and password.

The Magic Motion Remote has been reworked to include a microphone and scroll wheel. Sarah Tew/CNET

The LM9600 adds voice search functionality via a microphone on the Magic Motion remote. However, the function isn't as intuitive as Samsung's Smart Interaction, which enables you to search by just saying "Hi, TV." Instead, to use LG's feature you need to navigate to the home screen, press search, wait, press the microphone button, say your search term, press OK twice, and then get presented with the search options. Web search doesn't work and takes you to another Bing screen instead, and while the engine searches YouTube, Vudu, and CinemaNow, it doesn't search Netflix. You'll probably find yourself using voice search once and never again: hunting and pecking on the Magic Motion keyboard is a lot faster.

Thanks to the Magic Motion remote and included scroll wheel, the browser is an excellent addition, and Web pages load and navigate fairly quickly. As with most smartphones, though, just don't expect Flash pages to work properly.

Picture settings: LG offers a wealth of picture settings for owners and professional calibrators alike. The TV includes THX modes for bright rooms, cinema, and 3D, in addition to the two Expert ISF modes. Based on our testing though the default settings for ISF and THX modes are quite similar and not particularly accurate. ISF is the only one of the two that allows adjustment, with 2- and 20-point grayscales, a color management system, and gamma controls, in addition to four levels of local dimming (High, Medium, Low, and Off).

Connectivity: The most unusual thing about the connections on the LG LM9600 is that there are three instead of two USB ports for plugging in peripherals and USB drives. Apart from that the connections are fairly familiar, with four HDMI ports, one AV and one component (with adapter), RGB, antenna, and an optical digital.

Picture quality
Could it be that the sleek, high-level design has come at the sacrifice of the picture? 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 as dark as we measured a year ago on LG's LW9800 , yet the price has remained the same.

Surprisingly for a full-array LED TV, the amount of backlight bleed was even more pronounced than on the 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 you'll want to get a professional calibration or at least try our settings. Click the image at the right to see the picture settings used in the review and to read more about how this TV's picture controls worked during calibration.

Comparison models (details)
LG 55LM6700 55-inch edge-lit LED
Sony KDL-55HX850 55-inch edge-lit LED
Panasonic TC-P55ST50 55-inch plasma
Panasonic TC-P50UT50 50-inch plasma
Sony KDL-55HX929 55-inch full-array LED

Black level: The ability to produce a deep black is the most important element of any TV's picture. If a TV performs poorly here, its image will look weak and lifeless, lacking what some people call "three-dimensionality." While there have been several TVs with lighter black levels than the LM9600's this year -- LG's own LM6700 and the atrocious Panasonic DT50, for example -- for none has quite so much money been asked.

Compared with the Sony HX850, the LM9600 lacked the shadow detail that gives a picture its depth. We experimented with several different settings, and decided on the LED backlight control at Medium. While our comparison sets were all able to reproduce details such as the windows in the brightly lit top of the Empire State building at the 12-minute mark of "Watchmen," the LG at High turned the top of the building into a blob of white with no discernible details. Even at Medium the TV wasn't able to reproduce the same level of detail.

This trend continued with "Star Trek." At 28.37 minutes the LG lost its grip on the baddies' ship, turning it into mush. On the Sony and Panasonic TVs, the ship looked brown and spiny, while on the LG it looked indistinct and murky.

Color accuracy: Even in THX mode the balance was overly red, and it took quite a bit of time to correct this using the ISF mode controls (again, THX isn't adjustable). Color reproduction after calibration is one of the LG's good points. With the right balance in place, color was very good with no particular skew toward red, green, or blue. Skin tones looked natural and colors reasonably saturated, and this was one of the only ways the LM9600 was able to keep up with the very talented ST50.

Video processing: Helped perhaps by the dual-core processor, the video processing on this LG TV was pretty solid. It was able to properly interpret a 24p signal without stuttering or wonkiness, and it deinterlaced a 1080i signal without defaulting to wavy lines or moire effects.

Uniformity: While LM9600 is a full-array LED TV, it has some uniformity problems akin to what you'd see on edge-lit sets. The TV has some quite noticeable backlighting problems on the sides of the TV that appear as discolored blooms. In comparison, the edge-lit Sony HX850 was able to control effects like spotlighting and blooming while maintaining much higher black levels. Meanwhile, the off axis of the LG displayed a yellow tinge on bright material and the usual gray/blue tinge on blacks.

Bright lighting: Though the TV has a glossy finish, it didn't suffer worse reflections than the comparison sets when we turned the lights on -- a big improvement compared with past full-array LG models like the LW9800. Even dark movies such as "Watchmen" remained comfortable to watch without eyestrain; the set preserved black levels relatively well, easily outdoing the UT50 and keeping pace with the others in the lineup.

3D: The TV performed similarly to the 6700 in terms of 3D with no crosstalk and minimal interlacing artifacts, even at the larger 55-inch size. I believe that most people would notice ghosting and crosstalk effects before they become concerned by line structure, and so prefer passive 3D to active.

Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.0198 Average
Avg. gamma 2.1101 Good
Near-black x/y (5%) 0.2784/0.2755 Poor
Dark gray x/y (20%) 0.3127/0.3299 Good
Bright gray x/y (70%) 0.3124/0.3285 Good
Before avg. color temp. 6008.7419 Poor
After avg. color temp. 6508.2338 Good
Red lum. error (de94_L) 2.8318 Average
Green lum. error (de94_L) 2.4758 Average
Blue lum. error (de94_L) 1.4763 Good
Cyan hue x/y 0.2283/0.3238 Good
Magenta hue x/y 0.3126/0.1497 Average
Yellow hue x/y 0.4159/0.5103 Good
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Pass Good
1080i Deinterlacing (film) Pass Good
Motion resolution (max) 1200 Good
Motion resolution (dejudder off) 320 Poor

LG LM-9600

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    Where to Buy

    LG 55LM9600 - 55" Class ( 54.6" viewable ) 3D LED TV

    Part Number: 55LM9600/US
    Pricing is currently unavailable.

    Quick Specifications See All

    • Enhanced Refresh Rate 480 Hz
    • 3D Yes
    • LED Backlight Type Nano Full LED
      local dimming
    • Display Format 1080p (FullHD)
    • Diagonal Size 55 in
    • Type LED-backlit LCD TV
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