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LG LG60 review: LG LG60

LG LG60

David_Katzmaier.jpg
David Katzmaier
David_Katzmaier.jpg
David Katzmaier Editorial Director -- TVs and streaming

David runs CNET's home entertainment division, where he leads a team that covers TVs, streaming services, streaming devices and home audio. If he doesn't know something about the gear you use to keep yourself entertained at home, it's not worth knowing.

Expertise A 20-year CNET veteran, David has been reviewing TVs since the days of CRT, rear-projection and plasma. Prior to CNET he worked at Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as the Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics. Credentials Although still awaiting his Oscar for Best Picture Reviewer, David does hold certifications from the Imaging Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on display calibration and evaluation.
11 min read

Editors' note: The rating on this review has been lowered because of changes in the competitive marketplace.

7.0

LG LG60

The Good

Comprehensive picture adjustments; accurate color after calibration; 120Hz video processing can smooth judder in moving images; matte screen reduces in-room reflections; unique design with prominent hole and red backside.

The Bad

Relatively expensive; produces a lighter shade of black than competing HDTVs; some artifacts in 120Hz modes; so-so screen uniformity and off-angle viewing; no S-Video inputs; design may elicit mild jeering.

The Bottom Line

A unique design and best-in-class calibration controls cannot quite make up for the lighter black levels of the LG 47LG60 47-inch flat-panel LCD TV.

LG has been quietly gaining market share producing both plasma and LCD flat-panel HDTVs over the last couple of years, but there's nothing quiet about the LG60 series. The 47-inch 47LG60 reviewed here incorporates two unique design quirks that basically scream "look at me!" among the rows of nearly indistinguishable HDTVs. The first is a hole punched in the bottom of the frame, and the second is a fire-engine-red backside. The company also provided arguably the most complete set of picture adjustments we've ever seen, but unfortunately the picture itself doesn't quite measure up. The 47LG60 we tested couldn't produce nearly the same depth of black we've come to expect from high-end LCD and plasma HDTVs in this price range. There's plenty to like about the 47LG60, but the company has a bit more work to do before it can break into the ranks of the LCD elite.

Design
In case you didn't notice, there's a big hole in the cabinet of the LG 47LG60. When the product was first introduced at CES, we "poked" a little fun at the hole, so don't be surprised when visitors who see the TV perched in your living room do the same. That original version didn't plug the hole with a pane of clear plastic bearing the LG logo, but unfortunately for hole purists, this one does (maybe to avoid trapping young children's exploring hands). The puncture is ringed with red (power off) or white (power on) light, and you can turn the intensity down or off, or even flash between both colors in demo mode, as is your wont.

LG 47LG60
The LG's most prominent design element is the big hole in the middle of the lower frame.

LG's styling veers even further off the beaten path with a bright red backside, joined by a thin red accent running along the bottom edge of the semicircular, chrome-topped (!) swiveling pedestal stand. The TV also has a much wider lower lip--the area of the frame below the screen--than most flat-panel sets. The end result of all this path-veering is a striking design package that trumpets to all who see it that the 47LG60 isn't like every other HDTV. We liked the look better than Samsung's "Touch of Color" mainly because the red isn't as visible, and overall the 47LG60 makes quite an impression when turned off.

On the downside, its big lip makes it even taller than a typical 50- or 52-inch set. Including stand the 47LG60 measures 45.4 by 31.8 by 12.8 inches and weighs 85.1 pounds. Without the stand it shrinks to 45.4 by 29 by 4.1 inches and 77 pounds.

LG 47LG60
Along with that red coloring, the side panel includes a fourth HDMI input but no S-Video jack.

LG's remote is disappointing especially for such an otherwise well-designed HDTV. We found the cluster of similar buttons around the cursor control difficult to differentiate without constantly having to look down at them. A little illumination would have gone a long way. We were also really annoyed that LG neglected to include a dedicated button to toggle between aspect-ratio settings, instead including a "Simplink" key for compatible HDMI-connected gear that most people will never use. The remote can command three other pieces of equipment beyond the television itself.

The company has completely overhauled its menu system from last year, and the changes are mostly for the better. The stark black-on-light-gray menus are legible and large, and we liked that the input menu, which is arranged horizontally, grouped active inputs near the left where they were easy to select quickly. We would have liked to see text explanations accompany menu items, and navigating the extensive Expert menu (see below) can be quite tedious, but overall we liked the simple arrangement. We also appreciated the Quick Menu, which allows control of aspect ratio, picture presets, and other options without having to deal with the full menu system.

Features
Like higher-end LCDs from many companies this year, the 47LG60 includes 120Hz processing, which LG calls TruMotion. The basic idea is to double the rate at which the moving image is refreshed onscreen, which should clean up blurring in fast-moving objects. LG also adds de-judder processing to smooth out motion, which on this model comes in both Low and High varieties. For more on 120Hz, check out Fully Equipped, and of course details on how the 47LG60's processing tacks up can be found in the Performance section. Like most bigger-screen LCDs lately, the LG also has 1080p native resolution.

LG 47LG60
Each of the seven picture modes can be adjusted, and each remains independent per input.

LG blessed the 47LG60 with the most versatile and tweak-friendly picture setting memory system we've seen on any HDTV. Each of the seven (!) picture modes is adjustable and independent per input. With the 10 input sources we counted, that's 70 different memory "banks" to store picture settings. We can't imagine anyone using all of those, but just having the option to create multiple custom picture settings that are all remembered per input warms our tweaker heart. We also liked that all five of the main picture modes indicate whether they're at default or custom settings with the presence or absence of "(User)" printed after the mode name.

LG 47LG60
For serious calibrators, LG includes a 10-point white-balance adjustment.

Two of the modes, aptly dubbed Expert, allow the full range of picture settings. The 47LG60 has a more comprehensive color temperature adjustment than any HDTV we've tested, moving beyond the three presets with both 2-point and 10-point adjustment options. The latter allows calibrators to really home in on the D6500 standard and create a more-linear grayscale than would otherwise be possible. Expert also adds a full color management system for tuning the primary and secondary color points, again a boon for careful calibrators. A raft of other adjustments are available too, the most important of which includes gamma and noise reduction. Performance has the details below, as well as our complete picture settings.

Additional extras include a USB port that allows the set to display digital photos on the big screen and play music via the speakers. LG included neither picture-in-picture nor a handy way to adjust the TV's energy consumption; there's no "energy saver" mode available.

LG 47LG60
There are three HDMI inputs and one PC input on the LG 47LG60's back panel.

The company did include a fairly complete selection of jacks, but standard-def video inputs are sparse; there are no S-Video inputs and just one composite input. The back panel sports three ports for HDMI, two inputs for component video, one for analog VGA connections from PCs (1,920x1,080 maximum resolution), and one for RF antenna or cable. The side-input panel adds a fourth HDMI jack and the sole AV input with composite video, along with that USB port.

Performance
The picture quality on the LG 47LG60 was quite good, but not up to the standards of the best LCD and plasma sets we've tested, mainly due to its inability to produce a very deep shade of black. High points included accurate color after calibration and a matte screen to reduce the negative impact of brightly-lit rooms.

With all of LG's picture settings our standard calibration took a good deal longer than usual, but the results were excellent. The 2-point grayscale adjustment system worked very well, but there were some inconsistencies afterwards, which is normal in any calibration that adjusts only bright ("gain") and dark ("cut") ends of the scale. So we used the 10-point system, and achieved the most-linear grayscale we've seen yet--the average variation afterward, as the Geek Box indicates, was just 25K. We also utilized the color management system to improve the color points, especially green, without compromising color decoding. Our full picture settings include both 2-point and 10-point grayscale calibrations, as well as primary and secondary color tweaks, for your dialing-in pleasure. Note, as always, that we used specialized equipment to achieve these improvements, and the LG's more advanced settings won't be much help to people who don't have such gear and training.

For our comparison, we rounded up the Sony KDL-46XBR4 and the Samsung LN52A650--both 120Hz LCDs--as well as our current reference displays, namely the Pioneer PDP-5080HD and the Sony KDS-55A3000. We checked out Alien vs. Predator: Requiem via the Sony PlayStation 3.

Black level: Compared with the latest LCDs and plasmas, the LG 47LG60 simply cannot produce a convincing shade of black. AvP:R is one of the darker films we've seen (even the daylight scenes seemed dim), and evidence of the LG's problems in this department were everywhere. The void of space, the interior of the Predator's ship, the shadowy backgrounds of the forest where he lands--all appeared brighter and less natural than any of the flat panel HDTVs in our comparison by a wide margin. We've come to expect deep blacks from high-end plasmas and LCDs in the last couple of years, but this LG definitely disappoints.

Details in shadows, naturally, appeared less distinct as a result of the brighter blacks. In its favor the LG wasn't "crushing" (failing to reproduce all of the detail) in dark areas, but we still found ourselves squinting at areas such as the Predator's shaded carapace to see all the detail, which was rendered much more clearly on the other flat-panel sets.

Color accuracy: Prior to calibration the LG's Warm setting was entirely too blue, casting a pall over all colors, and especially skin tones, but as we described above, adjusting the picture made all the difference. Skin tones, such as when Jesse answers the door for pizza and the lighting splashes across her face, looked great, with excellent balance between light and dark areas. Primary colors, as evinced by the red shirt of the pizza dude and the evergreen trees of the forest, were spot-on, and green in particular benefited from a tweak of the color management system.

On the downside, we noticed that as with many LCDs, the darkest areas on the LG, including the letterbox bars above and below the screen and the deepest parts of shadows, appeared tinged bluish. Also, thanks to the 47LG60's subpar black levels, colors didn't have that rich saturation we saw on the other sets in our comparison.

Video processing: The LG 47LG60's 120Hz de-judder processing performed relatively well, although not quite as well as either the Sony or the Samsung. During AvP:R it smoothed-out motion in the same way as other such processing modes, and at times the smoothness became distracting and unnatural, although on other occasions it was somewhat welcome. When the camera pans up to look at the town from a mountaintop, for example, we preferred the smoothing effect to the judder seen normally.

LG 47LG60
The LG's 120Hz de-judder processing can be turned to high, low, or off.

In most scenes, however, we preferred the standard look of turning de-judder off, especially when it made the image appear too video-like, such as when the scenery passing behind the window of a moving car in Chapter 4 looked fake (it reminded us of the painted backgrounds used in old "Toonces the Driving Cat" sketches). That scene also caused faint halo artifacts along the edges of the passengers' faces, which got worse--and really distracting--when we engaged the ultrasmooth High mode. Similar issues popped up on the Sony and the Samsung, and in general we didn't see much difference between the three HDTVs when watching the film.

Differences did show up, however, when we checked out the same demanding sports scenes we mentioned in the Samsung LN52A650 review. The LG appeared more prone to the "triple puck effect" in its lowest de-judder setting than either of the other 120Hz LCDs, exhibiting significant blurring and elongation along the puck and a pair of sort of phantom pucks to either side of the real puck during a Ducks-Kings hockey game. We saw similar artifacts around the ball in a long downfield pass during a Louisville-West Virginia college football game, and again the LG was more prone to these issues than the others.

At one point, we looked up and realized that the LG was introducing a weird, slow stuttering on all movement. The issue disappeared when we cycled the power, and while it's a bit worrisome, it only occurred once during our test period.

When the processing was engaged in Low, the LG did a slightly better job than the Samsung in its comparable mode, and about the same as the Sony at reducing the blur in medium-speed motion across the screen on a special disc designed to test motion resolution. Despite the relatively significant blur this test material produced when de-judder was turned off, we didn't notice any untoward blurring while watching the film or other nontest material.

The 47LG60 correctly de-interlaced 1080i film-based material in film mode, unlike most HDTVs, and as long as we kept Sharpness high enough, it resolved every line of 1,920x1,080 sources. Speaking of Sharpness, we were unable to completely eliminate edge enhancement and yet still keep full resolution; we opted for the latter and saw some unnatural sharpness around text and some high-contrast edges.

Uniformity: The screen on our 47LG60 review sample wasn't as uniform as either of the other two LCDs in our comparison, although it wasn't terrible. The upper corners appeared brighter than the rest of the screen, a difference that we noticed in the letterbox bars. In very dark scenes we also noticed the brighter sides compared with the middle. No major banding or other issues were present. From off-angle the dark parts of the image washed out more noticeably than the other two LCDs, although there wasn't any significant discoloration.

Bright lighting: The LG has the traditional matte screen, which made watching dark scenes in a relatively well-lit room a good deal more enjoyable than on the Samsung, which has a shiny, reflective screen. The matte screen did a great job attenuating ambient light.

Standard-definition: Standard-def performance was quite good according to our HQV tests. The LG resolved every detail of the DVD format, and shots of the stone bridge and grass looked well detailed. It also smoothed-out jaggies from diagonal lines, although there were still some visible in the stripes of a waving American flag. Noise reduction was very good, removing progressively more motes of video snow from noisy shots as we moved the selector from Off through to High. The set also engaged 2:3 pull-down quickly and effectively.

PC: As a PC monitor, the LG can certainly serve well, although it didn't deliver quite the flawless performance we've come to expect from 1080p LCDs. Via the VGA input, the set did resolve every detail of a 1,920x1,080 source, but there was some interference visible in test patterns and too much edge enhancement around text, making it appear less legible than we'd like to see. We noticed similar performance via HDMI, although the edge enhancement wasn't as prevalent.

TEST RESULT SCORE
Before color temp (20/80) 7,603/7,523 Poor
After color temp 6,524/6,489 Good
Before grayscale variation +/- 1019 Poor
After grayscale variation +/- 25 Good
Color of red (x/y) 0.638/0.333 Good
Color of green 0.289/0.61 Good
Color of blue 0.144/0.062 Good
Overscan 0 percent Good
Defeatable edge enhancement No Poor
480i 2:3 pull-down, 24fps Yes Good
1080i video resolution Pass Good
1080i film resolution Pass Good

LG 47LG60 Picture settings
Default Calibrated Power Save
Picture on (watts) 267.21 129.64 N/A
Picture on (watts/sq. inch) 0.28 0.14 N/A
Standby (watts) 1.3 1.3 N/A
Cost per year $83.51 $40.93 N/A
Score (considering size) Average
Score (overall) Average
*Cost per year based on 2007 average U.S. residential electricity cost of 10.6 cents per kw/hr at 8 hours on/16 hours off per day.

How we test TVs

7.0

LG LG60

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 7
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