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

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

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Ty Pendlebury
Ty_Pendlebury.jpg

Ty Pendlebury

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Ty Pendlebury is a journalism graduate of RMIT Melbourne, and has worked at CNET since 2006. He lives in New York City where he writes about streaming and home audio.

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4 min read

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.

05LG_42CS560_35182772_35416447_35229743_540x386.jpg
5.5

LG CS560 series

The Good

The <b>LG CS560</b> 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.

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 "http:="" reviews.cnet.com="" flat-panel-tvs="" lg-47ls4600="" 4505-6482_7-35326956.html"="">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.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Models in series (details)
LG 32CS560 32 inches
LG 37CS560 37 inches
LG 42CS560 (reviewed) 42 inches

Design
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.

Sarah Tew/CNET

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.

Sarah Tew/CNET

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

LG CS560 LCD TV has image issues (pictures)

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"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Key TV features "="">Other:
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

Features
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.

Sarah Tew/CNET

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.

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.

Picture quality
I arrayed seven budget TVs for my comparison lineup, including a TCL and a Philips, and the LG CS560 and the LG LS4600 battled it out for bottom of the picture quality ladder. Yet, though it's almost half the price of the LS4600, the CS560 did surpass the more expensive TV in some ways. Firstly, colors were more saturated; skin tones in particular were more natural than the LS4600 was capable of.

Secondly, while black levels were fairly dreadful on both TVs, the CS560 had marginally less backlight clouding, which meant that more shadow detail could be seen in dark scenes. It still wasn't what you could call "good," though. But turn on the lights and the CS560 had very good contrast in comparison with the more expensive TV. Who needs LED backlighting when a TV half its price can offer a marginally better picture?

As befits a budget model, though, two other areas showed signs of compromise -- off-axis viewing and picture processing were definite weak points.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Comparison models (details)
Toshiba 40E220U 40-inch LCD
LG 47LS4600 46-inch LED
TCL L40FHDP60 40-inch LCD
Samsung LN46D630 46-inch LCD
Samsung LN46E550F 46-inch LCD
Philips 46PFL5907/F7 46-inch LED
Panasonic TC-P65VT50 (reference) 65-inch plasma

Black level: The thing that most harms this LG is the most important aspect of picture quality: black level. If a TV lacks the ability to produce a relatively deep shade of black, no amount of shadow detail will save it -- it will look flat and two-dimensional. Conversely, a highly contrasting image helps fool your eyes into believing a TV's picture is more three dimensional.

The LG CS560 had the worst black levels of my lineup, with gray blacks, and it wasn't even the cheapest TV in the room. While there was some shadow detail in our dark "Star Trek" test scenes, the generally gray smear of lighter blacks ruined the perception of depth.

Color accuracy: Both LG sets fared well against the competition in this category, although the LG LS4600 suffered from a lack of saturation compared with the CS560. While the latter's color in Expert mode was already quite good, I was able to wring even better response out of the Color Management System. Skin tones were rich and relatively full of "life," and there wasn't any part of the color spectrum that seemed to jut out, with natural greens and blues as well.

Video processing: I wasn't surprised to find that the TV wasn't able to complete our synthetic tests -- the engineers have to cut some features to arrive at a price, right? Like most 60Hz models, the CS560 was unable to reproduce the 1080p/24 test scene without significant judder, and the 1080i replay was also prone to errors.

Uniformity: While the CS560 wasn't as poor as the LS4600 in uniformity terms, it was still worse than any of the others in the lineup. Backlight inconsistencies and bright areas caused lower-level shadow details to get washed out in certain parts of the screen. The top half of the screen was quite prone to these backlight clouding issues in particular.

The TV demonstrated poor off-axis response as well, with a very gray and washed-out picture when viewed from the side. Along with the LS4600, it was again one of the worst in the lineup when seen from off-angle.

Bright lighting: While its dark-room performance was fairly bad, the CS560 was a much better performer in the light. Its screen is matte, a finish that minimizes reflections. Compared with before, dark scenes have a good amount of pop, with the TV able to mask its lack of true dynamic range. Compared with the TCL P60, which is equally adept at home theater environments and bright rooms, you have wonder where the extra $100 premium is going.

GEEK BOX: Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.0526 Poor
Avg. gamma 2.2176 Good
Near-black x/y (5%) 0.2733/0.2779 Poor
Dark gray x/y (20%) 0.3112/0.3303 Good
Bright gray x/y (70%) 0.3102/0.3284 Good
Before avg. color temp. 6900.1018 Poor
After avg. color temp. 6548.1284 Good
Red lum. error (de94_L) 0.5922 Good
Green lum. error (de94_L) 2.177 Average
Blue lum. error (de94_L) 0.9419 Good
Cyan hue x/y 0.2172/0.3302 Good
Magenta hue x/y 0.3243/0.156 Good
Yellow hue x/y 0.417/0.5064 Good
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Fail Poor
1080i Deinterlacing (film) Fail Poor
Motion resolution (max) 330 Poor
Motion resolution (dejudder off) 330 Poor
LG 42CS560 calibration report
05LG_42CS560_35182772_35416447_35229743_540x386.jpg
5.5

LG CS560 series

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 5Performance 5Value 6
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