|Other: 10 custom games, world clock, calendar; Skype requires speakerphone accessory (AN-VC100, $110)|
Most of the nonstreaming apps, with the exception of Picasa, a clock for time zones around the world, an onscreen calendar, and a few games, come courtesy of Yahoo Widgets. At the time of this writing, the LX9500 has access to 18 widgets, but still no Facebook, which both Samsung and Vizio do have.
Yahoo's platform is more usable than last year on LG, and better on the LX9500 than on some other 2010 models, with snappier responses to button presses and faster load times for individual widgets. In comparison, however, the apps platforms of Samsung and Vizio still felt snappier than LG's widgets, and content selection was wider on Samsung, Vizio, and Sony.
LG's games platform, not to be confused with the games included with Yahoo widgets, includes extremely basic custom titles, for example Sudoku and Whack a Mole. Of course you'll need to buy the external speakerphone kit to use Skype. It (still) hasn't been released, so we didn't test it for this review.
|Adjustable picture modes||6||Independent memories per input||Yes|
|Dejudder presets||2||Fine dejudder control||Yes|
|Aspect ratio modes -- HD||6||Aspect ratio modes--SD||5|
|Color temperature presets||3||Fine color temperature control||10-point|
|Gamma presets||3||Color management system||Yes|
|Other: 2-point and 20-point IRE systems available; 2 THX modes; Auto Power Save mode; guided "Picture Wizard" setup tool|
In 2D mode, the LG LX9500 is among the best on the market for sheer numbers of adjustable parameters. It offers the ability to adjust dejudder processing, a welcome extra pioneered by Samsung last year. There are also specific gamma settings (1.9, 2.2, and 2.4) in the excellent 10-point IRE system available in the Expert menu, as well as a second THX picture preset; now you can choose from THX Cinema or THX Bright Room, although neither is user-adjustable without inputting a special code.
As with last year, all of the adjustable picture modes can be separate for each input. We also liked the improvements made to the Picture Wizard, which consists of a series of test patterns that can help nonexperts adjust basic controls and get the gist of what picture setup is all about.
In 3D mode the LG LX9500 offers far fewer settings than the competition. Only three nonadjustable picture presets--Standard, Cinema and Game--are available. The standard menu system doesn't operate, and nearly every normal option, from dejudder control (thankfully it's disabled for 3D) to basic brightness and contrast settings, are inaccessible.
|Power-saver mode||Yes||Ambient light sensor||Yes|
|Picture-in-picture||No||Onscreen user manual||Yes|
The ambient light sensor can be engaged by choosing the Intelligent Sensor picture mode, and you can choose a "screen off" option in the TV's energy saver menu to just get sound, reducing consumption to 36 watts. LG calls its onscreen manual "simple" and that's definitely the case--it's more like a rundown of features than a usable manual.
|HDMI inputs||3 back, 1 side||Component video inputs||1 back, 1 side|
|Composite video input(s)||1 back, 1 side||S-Video input||0|
|VGA-style PC input(s)||1||RF input(s)||1|
|AV output(s)||0||Digital audio output||1 optical|
|USB port||2 side||Ethernet (LAN) port||Yes|
|Other: Side headphone jack; RS-232 port; proprietary "wireless control" port for media box|
The LG's input scheme is pretty standard aside from the necessity to use breakout cables (included) to connect component or composite sources to the side. The side bay is narrow enough that LG recommends a width no greater than 10mm (0.39 inch) for HDMI and USB cables/thumbdrives. The second USB port is nice if you monopolize the first with the optional Wi-Fi dongle.
Overall the LX9500 is an excellent performer with 2D material, and extremely similar, as expected, to the LE8500. Both deliver some of the deepest black levels and most accurate color available today, and off-angle viewing was better than that of any LED we've tested. On the other hand we saw the same uniformity and bright-lighting issues on both sets, and unlike the LE8500 the LX9500 couldn't handle 1080p/24 content properly. Check below for details, many of which will be familiar to readers of the LE8500 review, and skip to the bottom for notes on 3D picture quality.
As with the LE8500 we reviewed earlier, the most accurate picture preset on the LX9500 was THX Cinema, which delivered a relatively linear grayscale (except for dark areas) and gamma (averaging a nearly-perfect 2.21) while maxing out at 36ftl, quite close to our 40ftl target. Unlike the 8500, however, we measured a relatively blue grayscale overall in THX (see below) and Expert in the Warm setting.
Our calibration, as usual for LG, took good advantage of the Expert Modes' many settings, and it provided a big improvement. We achieved a virtually flat grayscale, aside from very dark areas, maintained that near-perfect gamma, and removed the blue cast. We also used the CMS to good effect.
For the majority of the image quality tests below we employed "The Dark Knight" on Blu-ray along with the following side-by-side lineup.
|Comparison models (details)|
|LG 47LE8500||47 inch full-array local dimming LED|
|Sony XBR-52HX909||52-inch full-array local dimming LED|
|Vizio XVT553SV||55-inch full-array local dimming LED|
|Samsung UN55C8000||55-inch edge-lit local dimming LED|
|Panasonic TC-P50VT25||50-inch plasma|
|Samsung PN50C7000||50-inch plasma|
|Pioneer PRO-111FD (reference)||50-inch plasma|
Black level: In this crucial category the LX9500 delivered an excellent performance, producing a shade of black on par with the best TVs in our lineup. In numerous mostly dark shots, such as the flyover of the nighttime cityscape in Chapter 2, the depth of black and near-black areas was deeper and more realistic than on either of the Samsungs and the Vizio, and every bit as inky as what we saw on the LE8500, the HX909, and the other two plasmas.
It was tough to choose depth-of-black winner among those four, even in our side-by-side comparison, to the extent that any difference is more likely because of nuances of calibration than panel performance. That said, we feel the LGs (which were essentially identical) had a slight edge over the Sony, thanks mainly to their superior ability to limit blooming--where dark areas adjacent to lighter ones become slightly brighter because of stray illumination of the LED elements. Of course, the Panasonic and Pioneer plasmas showed no blooming and evinced superior perceived contrast overall, mainly because the bright areas in darker scenes, such as the windows in the buildings, appeared brighter than on the LCDs.
Speaking of blooming, it wasn't an issue in most scenes on the LGs. It was most obvious when we called up menus, whether from our PS3 or from the disc itself, that appeared amid black areas and brightened the surround slightly. The effect was less obvious on the LGs than on the Sony or the Samsung, and about the same as the Vizio. When we moved our seat off-angle, blooming intensified significantly, as usual (see Uniformity below).
Shadow detail was also excellent on the LX9500. The interior of the Batmoble in Chapter 2 revealed subtle details on the steering column and dashboard computer ("INTIMIDATE"!), details that weren't visible on the Samsungs or the Sony.
Color accuracy: The LX9500 again performed extremely well in this department. Around the restaurant table in Chapter 5, for example, the skin tones of Rachel and Dent were closer to our reference than any of the other TVs, with the exception of the Vizio, where they looked nearly identical. The LG beat the saturation of the Vizio by just a bit, however, thanks to its deeper black levels. The LG's primary and secondary color accuracy also showed through on Rachel's red dress, along with the green of the pool table felt (Chapter 9) and the cyan of the sea and sky (Chapter 10).
As with the LE8500, the LX9500's black areas remained relatively true as opposed to dipping into bl