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LG 55LW9800 review: Local dimming TV disappoints

The expensive LG 55LW9800's picture quality doesn't live up to the promise of its full-array local dimming LED backlight.

The LG 55LW9800 is the company's highest-end TV for 2011. Sarah Tew/CNET

As we describe in detail in our explanation of the confusing world of LED backlight configurations, our favorite variety is known as (deep breath) "full-array with local dimming." It's also exceedingly expensive to implement, at least to judge from the sticker prices of the only currently shipping 2011 HDTVs to offer this feature: Sony's XBR-HX929, Sharp's Elites, and the LG 55LW9800 reviewed here. The LG is unique among the three as the only one with passive 3D TV capability--combining local dimming with the brightness, crosstalk, and practicality advantages of polarized 3D glasses. If you want passive 3D and have money to burn, this 55-inch model (it's not available in any other size) seems appealing on paper. In person, however, despite myriad settings and our best attempt to calibrate them, it fails to fulfill those high expectations.

Read the full review of the LG 55LW9800.