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LG CS560 series review: Relatively cheap LCD TV has poor image quality

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MSRP: $449.99

The Good The LG CS560 series offers decent color accuracy and saturation. The TV has a matte screen and bright-room performance is better than the LG LS4600's at half the price.

The Bad The TV has terrible black levels and off-axis viewing. The TV suffers from poor uniformity, with large backlight blobs afflicting the upper half of the screen.

The Bottom Line The LG CS560 series is a relatively cheap LCD TV, but its poor image quality means that it cannot compete against other budget TVs.

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5.5 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 5
  • Performance 5
  • Value 6

LG used to be known as a budget brand, but it has been making overtures in the last couple of years toward the high end. In 2012 its TVs higher-end LEDs are among the most beautifully designed TVs we've ever seen, and for those products its prices are just as much or even more than competitors'. On the other hand, picture quality is one area where the company hasn't made any great strides this year. One of the cheapest models on LG's books, the CS560, continues in this vein.

Starting with the good stuff, the LG CS560 demonstrated excellent color response with saturated and accurate-looking colors. Skin tones were natural and whether displaying a sci-fi cockpit or the deepest woods, the colors of the CS560 looked true to life. Also, the TV is fairly cheap.

On the bad side, the TV has woeful black levels and poor uniformity, issues that are especially visible in a darkened room. You can ameliorate these issues by leaving the lights on (the brighter the better), but that's not a compromise you have to make with other price-comparable TVs from the likes of Toshiba or TCL. While the CS560 is a better deal than the twice-as-expensive LG LS4600, its picture quality issues mean it's not as good a value as many other sub-$500 televisions.

Series information: I performed a hands-on evaluation of the LG 42CS560, but this review also applies to the other screen sizes in the series. All sizes have identical specs and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality.

Models in series (details)
LG 32CS560 32 inches
LG 37CS560 37 inches
LG 42CS560 (reviewed) 42 inches

There are three major things that paying more for a TV is supposed to get you: more features, better picture quality, and a snappier design. Pay less than $500 and you'd expect all of them to suffer, and in the case of the CS560 it's a tick in all of the boxes. While the TV isn't terrible-looking, it does look like you didn't spend much money on it.

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The LG has a thick glossy bezel and is underpinned by a thin blue line at the bottom (note to self: insert police joke here). As a CCFL-backlit set it's necessarily thicker than LED models, although wall-mounting isn't out of the question. For people who choose to keep it rooted to the ground, there is a swivel stand in the box.

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The remote control is compact and reasonably ergonomic, though the "green power" button is unnecessary given how generally efficient LCD is nowadays.

Key TV features
Display technology LCD LED backlight N/A
Screen finish Matte Remote Standard
Smart TV No Internet connection N/A
3D technology No 3D glasses included No
Refresh rate(s) 60Hz Dejudder (smooth) processing No
DLNA-compliant No USB Photo/Music

The LG has no discernable feature set to speak of, but that's to be expected of a TV that sells below the $500 border. If you want Smart TV features, and believe me it's well worth it, I'd suggest looking at a Roku or Apple TV.

Picture settings: Like many of the TVs in the LG range, the CS560 includes quite sophisticated controls, including both color management and multipoint grayscale. I was able to get a much better response out of the CS560 than the more expensive LS4600 using exactly the same system. While the TV does come with a Picture Wizard and an Intelligent Sensor, neither really help create a more accurate picture.

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Connectivity: The LG ships with a standard bay at this price level: two HDMI ports, two component inputs, a composite, a PC input, and a USB port.

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