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LG LS4600 series review: LG LED TV fails to deliver

This LED TV looks nice itself, but its picture quality is another story.

Ty_Pendlebury.jpg
Ty Pendlebury
Ty_Pendlebury.jpg

Ty Pendlebury

Editor

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

When LED TVs arrived in a blitzkrieg of publicity several years ago, many consumers believed, mistakenly and with a lot of help from the advertisers, that this technology was automatically better than LCD. While LED lighting has some benefits, it's not necessarily going to give you better picture quality.

LG_47LS4600_35326956_35171390_06_540x386.jpg
5.2

LG LS4600 series

The Good

The <b>LG LS4600</b> is an attractive-looking midrange TV with a slim bezel and a rotating stand. Its picture delivers good shadow detail and colors are relatively accurate. The menu system is easy to navigate.

The Bad

The TV has some of the worst black levels and uniformity I've seen this year. Colors are desaturated and skin tones in particular can look a little pale. For a midrange TV there are no features to speak of -- even the network port is inactive.

The Bottom Line

The LG LS4600 LED TV has looks on its side, but it doesn't perform to the level expected at this price.

The LG 47LS4600 LED is a case in point: when compared directly with the "LCD" Samsung E550, the LG suffers from much lighter blacks and desaturated colors.

While the LS4600 has some attractive design touches, like a slim bezel and rotating stand, the television's other problems, like a blotchy backlight and poor bright-room performance, mean it's not a great TV. When you consider that a TV like the TCL P60can outperform it in most picture tests at half the price, the LG LS4600 becomes a pretty poor deal.

Series information: I performed a hands-on evaluation of the LG 47LS4600, but this review also applies to the other screen size in the series. Both sizes have identical specs and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Models in series (details)
LG 47LS4600 (reviewed) 47 inches
LG 55LS4600 55 inches

Design
Regardless of performance, let 2012 be remembered as the year LG found its design groove. TVs like the LM9600 are living room art, and while you can't expect this to flow all the way down the line, the LS4600 doesn't look like a budget TV.

Sarah Tew/CNET

This LG features a thin black bezel -- afforded by the edge-lit LED system -- and a fairly shallow profile. The television comes with a swivel stand as most TVs in LG's portfolio do, and this is a matter of differentiation between it and other brands. The stand is reminiscent of a PC monitor stand, which isn't such a bad thing.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The remote control is fully fledged with decent ergonomics and friendly buttons.

Sarah Tew/CNET

TV menus are usually one step removed from Excel spreadsheets in terms of excitement, but LG likes to make the experience a bit friendlier with its smartphone-like tiles. It's a shame the dedicated Network tile doesn't work, though.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Key TV features "="">Other:None
Display technology LCD LED backlight Edge-lit
Screen finish Glossy Remote Standard
Smart TV No Internet connection No
3D technology No 3D glasses included No
Refresh rate(s) 120Hz Dejudder (smooth) processing Yes
DLNA-compliant Photo/Music/Video USB Photo/Music/Video

LG LS4600 series TVs look good, but don't wow (pictures)

See all photos

Features
When you start paying over $500 for a television, you can expect to start seeing some features. For example, the Philips PFL5907 has Smart TV and PC desktop streaming, while the Vizio M3D470KD adds the 3D alluded to in its name. The comparably priced LG lacks both big step-ups. It does offer 120Hz refresh rate, according to LG, but it behaves more like a 60Hz TV, with relatively poor motion resolution and no smoothing/dejudder option (not that I miss the latter).

While the television does have a LAN port and a dedicated Network section in the menu, this appears inactive (I connected it to our network but it only told me "Network failed"). LG couldn't provide additional information as to its function, and the manual and supporting materials make only passing reference to it.

Picture settings: Like many of the TVs in the LG range the LS4600 includes quite sophisticated controls to attempt tailoring the image to "reference" level. The amount of control is fairly impressive with both color management and grayscale control. As a result I could get a pretty looking graph out of this LG, but it's a pity the TV has problems that can't be corrected with these controls.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Connectivity: While many budget TVs include only two HDMI ports, the LG ups the complement to three. Additionally, you get two component inputs, a composite, a PC input, and a USB port for media playback.

Picture quality
The LS4600 was a relatively poor performer. The one-two punch of terrible black levels and intrusive backlight clouding means that for anything other than oversaturated computer animation, the TV just doesn't have the picture pep to justify the price. Color was a mixed bag, accurate yet undersaturated, and while video processing was a very good, it couldn't make up for this set's other issues.

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.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Comparison models (details)
Toshiba 40E220U 40-inch LCD
LG 42CS560 42-inch LCD
TCL L40FHDP60 40-inch LCD
Samsung LN46D630 46-inch LCD
Samsung LN46E550F 46-inch LCD
Panasonic TC-P65VT50 (reference) 65-inch plasma

Black level: If all you plan to watch are news broadcasts and sports, then the LG could be OK, but the demands of modern theatrical releases in a dark room might prove too much. You don't see too many nighttime scenes in sitcoms, but they are a mainstay of movies and even TV dramas, and that's where the LS4600 comes unstuck.

The LS4600 showed the lightest black levels of the seven TVs in my test. In a darkened room the blacks looked brown, and the rebel Romulan ship from "Star Trek" was indecipherable -- spoiled by big backlight clouds and light blacks.

Despite unconvincing black levels, shadow detail was very good. This may seem illogical given the reduced dynamic range of the set, but the LG had better shadow detail than both the Toshiba E220 and Samsung E550. That's small consolation though, since both TVs kicked its butt in terms of cinematic punch due to the deeper black levels.

Color accuracy: The LG LS4600 had very similar color reproduction to the Philips PFL5907, which meant that colors were relatively true to life. However, compared with vibrant performers like the Samsung E550 and Toshiba E220, the LG lacked saturation, and skin tone in particular appeared a little yellow. When this restrained color palette was combined with the low black levels of the TV, the effect was fairly underwhelming.

Video processing: While not enough to save the TV given its other faults, the LG at least has very good picture processing. It was able to relay Blu-ray movies at the correct cadence with no stuttering with 1080p/24 sources in our "I Am Legend" test. In addition the 1080i film test of a sports stand was again replayed without any judder and no moire between the tightly packed chairs.

On the other hand the TV delivered only 300 to 400 lines of motion resolution, which is uncharacteristic for a 120Hz television. I don't consider that a big deal, however, since I didn't notice any obvious blurring in program material.

Uniformity: LG's LS4600 and CS560 were the worst of the group, both exhibiting poor uniformity. The LS4600, despite being the more expensive of the two, was arguably worse, with visible backlight blotchiness across the whole screen, which could obscure details in a dark picture.

When you are standing off-axis, the TV's colors and already-poor black levels completely washed out leaving a very gray-looking image. At least the TV has a swivel stand so you can minimize these issues from some seating postions.

Bright lighting: The LG has quite a glossy screen, and under lights it proved to be very reflective. While in some cases this can mean that you get an illusion of higher contrast, the blacks were still blotchy and blue-looking in the case of this TV.

GEEK BOX: Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.0696 Poor
Avg. gamma 2.2188 Good
Near-black x/y (5%) 0.2798/0.2847 Poor
Dark gray x/y (20%) 0.3121/0.3294 Good
Bright gray x/y (70%) 0.3126/0.3291 Good
Before avg. color temp. 10348.0945 Poor
After avg. color temp. 6548.9993 Good
Red lum. error (de94_L) 2.479 Average
Green lum. error (de94_L) 2.5584 Average
Blue lum. error (de94_L) 1.2554 Good
Cyan hue x/y 0.2336/0.3215 Average
Magenta hue x/y 0.314/0.152 Good
Yellow hue x/y 0.4214/0.518 Average
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Pass Good
1080i Deinterlacing (film) Pass Good
Motion resolution (max) 350 Poor
Motion resolution (dejudder off) N/A Poor

LG 47LS4600 calibration report

Read more about how we test TVs.

LG_47LS4600_35326956_35171390_06_540x386.jpg
5.2

LG LS4600 series

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 5Performance 5Value 5
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