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LG LA6200 series review: Smart, pretty, but lackluster performance

The LG LA6200 series brings excellent looks and a robust feature set to the table, but spoils the meal with its less-than-robust picture quality.

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

David has reviewed TVs, streaming services, streaming devices and home entertainment gear at CNET since 2002. He is an ISF certified, NIST trained calibrator and developed CNET's TV test procedure himself. Previously David wrote reviews and features for Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as "The Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics."

7 min read

In the cutthroat world of midrange HDTVs, where the profits and growth are even thinner and flatter than the LCD panels, a beautiful face and long list of bullet points only gets you so far. You'll need a good picture at a fetching price to make your mark.

LG_47LA6200_35576427_12.jpg
5.8

LG LA6200 series

The Good

The <b>LG LA6200</b> LED LCD TV features thin, attractive styling with narrow bezel and sleek swivel stand; a capable, customizable Smart TV suite; accurate color and uniform screen; and is 3D-compatible, with four pairs of glasses included.

The Bad

Subpar picture quality overall with light black levels, worse video processing than a typical "120Hz" TV and a middling bright-room image; surprisingly poor 3D image; cluttered Smart interface.

The Bottom Line

The midrange LG LA6200 LED LCD TV gets points for looks and smarts, but loses even more due to its picture quality.

The LG LA6200 looks great when turned off, with its modern, thin, aggressive silver exterior, and just as good on paper, with extensive Smart TV extras and 3D capability. Its performance is another matter. The picture quality of the LA6200 just doesn't match up to other sets in its price range, like Vizio's M and Panasonic's E60 LED LCDs, let alone like-priced and even cheaper plasmas, such as Panasonic's S60.

If you love its looks and smarts, particularly if you invest in an optional motion controller remote, the LA6200 might be worth a second look. But for most TV shoppers in this price bracket, better values can be had elsewhere.

Series information: I performed a hands-on evaluation of the 47-inch LG 47LA6200, 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 42LA6200 42 inches
LG 47LA6200 (reviewed) 47 inches
LG 50LA6200 50 inches
LG 55LA6200 55 inches
LG 60LA6200 60 inches

Sarah Tew/CNET

Design
This year's LG TVs are no slouches in the style department, and their dashing looks trickle all the way down to the LA6200. The thin, dark-silver bezel around the screen is flanked by black strips to either side, and when seen in profile the frame's ridged edge becomes obvious. So does the TV's thickness; as a direct-lit LED, it's a good deal chinkier than edge-lit models.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The stand is another design highlight. It suspends the panel above the table without any visible connection, creating a cool, floaty effect. It also allows a good range of swivel.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Unlike LG's higher-end TVs, the 6200 doesn't ship with the company's Wii-mote-like motion control remote (although you can order it as an accessory for $80). Instead you get the standard multibutton clicker LG has shipped for the last few years. Although it's larger than current trends dictate, I appreciated the clicker's cogent layout and direct access to numerous functions, like the settings menu, that go missing on the button-sparse motion wand.

On the other hand, LG's selection-heavy Smart menus are much more cumbersome to navigate sans motion control. I found myself annoyed at how many clicks it took to reach my selections, and setting up the custom screens was particularly tedious. Still, many users prefer having a single universal remote anyway, so for them even a remote as cool as the motion wand would go unused.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Key TV features "="">Other: Optional Magic Motion Remote with voice control (model AN-MR400, $80); optional Skype camera/speakerphone (AN-VC400, $99 list)
Display technology LCD LED backlight Edge-lit
Screen finish Semi-matte Remote Standard
Smart TV Yes Internet connection Built-in Wi-Fi
3D technology Passive 3D glasses included 4 pair
Refresh rate(s) 120Hz* Dejudder (smooth) processing Yes
DLNA-compliant Photo/Music/Video USB Photo/Music/Video

Features
As I mentioned above the 6200 uses "direct" LED backlighting, so making it less expensive and thicker than traditional edge-lit LED models like LG's step-up LA6900 series. Another difference between the two is that the 6200 lacks LG's "LED+" local dimming system--although given the mediocre performance that system delivered on the LA8600, LA6200 owners don't have much reason to be jealous. Check out the full picture quality comparison below.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Aside from Smart TV, the 6200 offers a couple midrange step-up extras over LG's less expensive TVs. One of the most obvious is a "120Hz" specification. Unlike last year on models like the LM6700 the LA6200 is capable of introducing smoothing, aka the Soap Opera Effect (above). That, and the ability to properly handle film-based sources, are hallmarks of an actual 120Hz TV, but on the other hand it delivers the mediocre motion resolution of a 60Hz TV. We asked LG to clarify whether the panel is in fact 120Hz or 60Hz, and we'll update this section if we hear back; in the meantime we're leaving the asterisk on the table above. See the video processing section below for details on our test results, and Fake refresh rates: Is your TV really 120Hz? for more on how, uh, blurry this spec has become.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Another step-up is 3D, which as usual in LG's case means passive 3D. The LA6200 is one of the least expensive non-Vizio TVs with this extra, and costs a good deal less than the least expensive LED LCD TVs with active 3D, like Samsung's UNF6400. Its biggest advantage over active is its cheap, lightweight glasses, and LG includes four pairs. Check out our guide to 3D TV for more.

Smart TV: Although it's missing the motion remote, camera and voice control, the LA6200 is otherwise equipped with the same Smart TV extras found on the flagship 8600 series. Since the motion remote with voice control is an optional accessory (nope, I didn't test it with this TV) and you can add a camera for Skype, the 6200 can approach the capabilities of its flagship even more closely. It even has a dual-core processor.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Without the motion remote, however, LG's Smart suite is a lot more pedestrian. The main interface is pretty busy and icon-heavy, and while the layout is clear enough, navigating it can get tedious and requires way too many clicks. A row of function shortcuts and apps lines the bottom below a series of "cards," three of which appear on the screen at once. The first card has an inset window showing a live view of what's playing on the current input, set above an equal-sized ad. Hey, at least there are no banner ads.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The next card shows "premium" services, which by default include Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, MLB TV, and other heavy hitters. LG's app selection lags a step behind Panasonic's and two behind Samsung's, lacking both Amazon Instant Video and HBO Go. Aside from the addition of Pandora and Crackle, the selection of available big-name apps is the same as last year's.

A bunch of other "cards" are available by default, including On Now (see below), My Interests (with weather and news in up to three categories), Smart Share (access to mobile devices, DLNA and USB media), 3D World (LG's proprietary, relatively robust on-demand 3D app), Smart World, and Game World (apps). You can reorder the cards and create a custom one from the bottom row of shortcuts and installed apps (which can itself be reordered, too). You can't delete any, however, and you can't disturb the order of Premium or the inset window/ad. In all the interface is a nice balance of customizability, form, and function -- better than Panasonic's even without LG's motion remote, but not quite as good as Samsung's.

Cable box control and voice control: Optional: When I reviewed the LA8600 I tested LG's On Now system with cable box control, which allows the TV and motion remote to directly control your box in a painless way, and even offer an alternative to browsing and searching live and upcoming TV content, I really liked it. The LA6200 has an On Now app too, but only the optional $80 Magic Motion remote provides cable box control. On Now is well-nigh-useless without the ability to change channels on the box.

The optional clicker also has the ability to allow the TV to accept voice commands as well as conduct voice searches.

Since I didn't test the LA6200 with the motion remote, I can't say how well any of these extras work on the TV -- and I wouldn't assume they're as well-integrated as on the LA8600.

The LA6200's Web browser is as annoying and frustrating to use as you might expect with the standard remote. On the LA8600 it wasn't half-bad thanks to the motion remote, but without it the LA6200's browser should only be used in the most dire circumstances.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Picture settings: In typical LG fashion the midrange LA6200 has basically the same level of adjustability as the high-end LA8600--and it's as much or more than anybody needs. There are two Expert modes in addition to numerous other adjustable presets. The 20-point grayscale adjustment is overkill in my opinion (I prefer 10 points) and didn't work well in testing. The color management system worked OK, but it's not a big deal since out-of-the-box color was very good. Full control of picture options is available for streaming-video sources.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Connectivity: The ports on the back of the LA6200 are ample, with three each for HDMI and USB devices. There's also a combination composite/component video input (choose just one!) for analog sources. As expected at this level there's no analog VGA-style PC input.

Picture quality
From what we've seen so far of LG's 2013 TVs, the company hasn't made great strides in improving on its poor scores from 2012. The LA6200 suffers some of the lightest black levels I've tested this year, a foible that washes out the image and, as usual, impairs its "pop" and contrast. The set also doesn't match the motion resolution expected of a 120Hz TV, and 3D was surprisingly disappointing. Color accuracy and uniformity are quite good, but in the end the 6200 still falls below most of the pack.

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 50L2300U 50-inch LED
Panasonic TC-L50E60 50-inch LED
Vizio M551d-A2R 55-inch LED
LG 55LA8600 55-inch LED
Samsung UN55F6400 55-inch LED
Panasonic TC-P50S60 50-inch plasma

Black level: In my lineup only the Toshiba produced as light a shade of black as the LG LA6200--the rest of the sets appeared to a greater or lesser extent darker in black and near-black areas, and therefore punchier and more realistic. In "Drive" as Driver takes Irene to her evening job (Chapter 6), the 6200's letterbox bars, the shadow-darkened dashboard, and the silhouette of Irene's head all appeared relatively washed out and less lifelike.

As a result shadows also looked unrealistic, but at least they didn't lack for detail. Irene's hair and the folds of her sweater, as well as the couple's faces, appeared as well-detailed as expected despite the lighter blacks, outdoing the more muddied Toshiba and Vizio, for example.

Color accuracy: The LG had few problems in the accuracy department, coming extremely close to reference color in our measurements and confirming its stellar numbers with program material. The pale face of Irene at the party (36:31) looked well-balanced and neutral, without the slight reddish cast of the Samsung and Vizio, or the slight greenish tinge of the Panasonic S60. I did notice what seemed like a slight lean toward blue in bright areas, like the couples' faces in their restaurant conversation (45:58), but it wasn't noticeable outside a side-by-side comparison.

As expected due to its poor black levels, however, saturation is a weak point. Even the Toshiba mustered more pop and impact, and brighter colors like the red of her dress and the brightly colored packaging behind her head looked somewhat muted on the LA6200. All of the other displays' color, with the exception of the E60, appeared more pleasing and rich subjectively than the LGs'.

I also appreciated that shadows and black areas didn't have the bluish tinge I saw on some of the LEDs, the Panasonic E60 in particular.

Video processing: The LG LA6200 earned decent marks here with one blemish. As I expect from a television billed as 120Hz, it successfully delivered the proper 1080p/24 cadence of film. To get it to do so, you'll have to turn the TruMotion setting to Off, and make sure Real Cinema is on. Since TruMotion doesn't affect motion resolution, a watcher who doesn't want to introduce smoothing should probably just leave the LA6200 in this setting. In case you're wondering, the User setting with dejudder turned all the way down doesn't result in correct cadence; instead you get the halting stutter reminiscent of 2:3 pull-down.

Also as expected, the 6200 series is capable of introducing the Soap Opera Effect (smoothing) if you're into that sort of thing. It's most intense in the Clear setting and very slightly less-so in Smooth, and I appreciate that LG lets you dial in as much of the effect as you want this year via a 10-step User option. As I found with the LA8600, there's actually a nice progression from 0 to 10, making this coontrol as effective as Samsung's -- the only other maker to offer user-adjustable smoothing. The smoothing wasn't as good as the Samsung, E60 or LA8600's, all of which showed fewer trails and unnatural ripple effects (the grocery store sequence at 15:29 was a good example), but at least its there if you need it.

So far so good, so what's the blemish? Despite behaving like a 120Hz TV in the above tests, the LG LA6200 has the motion resolution of a 60Hz television. In our test, all of the TruMotion settings delivered the same poor result of around 300 lines. That's quite a bit worse than Samsung's UN6400 and Panasonic's E60, both 120Hz televisions as well. If you're sensitive to blurring -- which in my experience is quite difficult to discern in most program material -- you may want to avoid this LG.

The LA6200's input lag in game mode was a very respectable 44.2ms. Renaming an input "PC," a trick that works on some LG TVs to reduce input lag, had no positive effect on the LA6200.

Uniformity: Thanks no doubt in part to its direct LED backlight, the 6200 suffered no obvious hot spots in dark program material. The extreme edge of the letterbox bars along the top and bottom did appear very slightly brighter, but it wasn't really noticeable unless you looked for it. Even during the all-black credits the screen showed none of the minor clouding seen on the Samsung, nor the blooming effects of the Vizio. Bright fields were similarly uniform.

Off-angle viewing washed out black areas worse than on the Samsung and the E60, but it maintained color fidelity somewhat better, equalling the Vizio, Toshiba and LA8600 in that area.

Bright lighting: The 6200 was mediocre under the lights, and its biggest weakness again had to do with black level. Dark images looked more even more washed out than on any of the others (with the exception of the Panasonic S60), robbing the picture of impact. Reflections weren't terrible, and better than on many of the lineup, but the 6200's semi-glossy screen failed to dim them as much as a true matte TV would.

Sound quality: With music the LG wasn't the worst in the lineup, but it was pretty terrible. Both the LA8600 and the UN6400 trounced it, and the S60 was clearly (pun intended) better. On "Red Right Hand" the 6200 sounded muddy yet somehow thin as well, individual instruments like the cymbals almost disappeared, and Nick Cave's voice lacked even the intelligibility of the ugly-sounding Toshiba. Only the E60 sounded worse, although the Toshiba was right there at the bottom too. Dialog on "Mission: Impossible 3" was better, but once the explody bits started there was no feeling of dynamics -- the onrushing truck, the horns, and the exploding glass were quieter and muddier than on the others.

3D: The LA6200 evinced the worst 3D picture quality I've seen any TV. As a passive model, I expected the sime kind of performance seen on other passive-equipped LG's and Vizios: a relatively bright image almost completely free of crosstalk -- that doubled image, sometimes called "ghosting," that appears as an outline on many on-screen objects. Crosstalk is a major issue with many active 3D TVs, but this is the first passive model I've seen that shows the issue to any large extent.

And crosstalk on the LA6200 is pretty bad. During "Hugo" I saw the doubled image not just in my favorite torture-test scenes -- Hugo's hand as it reached for the mouse (5:01), the tuning pegs on the guitar (7:49), and the face of the dog as it watches the inspector slide by (9:24) -- but pretty much everywhere else too. It was significantly worse than on either of the two active 3D TVs in my lineup, the Samsung UNF6400 and Panasonic TC-PST60, and neither of those is particularly good. Of course, compared with the essentially crosstalk-free Vizio and LG LA8600, the LA6200 looked even worse. No adjustment I tried fixed the issue or even reduced it enough to be worthwhile.

The cheaper LG also suffered from the artifacts typical of other passive sets like the Vizio and LA8600, namely line structure and occasionally moving jagged edges. The former was particularly visible in bright faces against dark backgrounds, for example on Hugo himself at 6:11, 11:06, and 13:33, and the face of Isabelle at 17:06. It was also visible along other edges, such as the sleeve of Méliès at 4:58. Moving lines were rarer than in some other films, on the other hand; the first example I saw was the bright edge of Uncle Claude's bowler (22:41) as he spoke to Hugo. I also saw an instance of jagged lines a bit later along the diagonal edge of the tombstone next to Hugo's father's (23:16).

Yes, the image was plenty bright, colors looked fine, and while black levels were worse than on the other TVs, all other issues pale in comparison to the crosstalk. LG's glasses, for what it's worth, fit well and I liked them better than Vizio's.

GEEK BOX: Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.037 Poor
Avg. gamma (10-100%) 2.16 Good
Avg. grayscale error (10-100%) 2.261 Good
Dark gray error (20%) 1.555 Good
Bright gray error (70%) 2.142 Good
Avg. color error 0.945 Good
Red error 1.86 Good
Green error 0.092 Good
Blue error 1.17 Good
Cyan error 1.05 Good
Magenta error 1.12 Good
Yellow error 0.38 Good
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Pass Good
1080i Deinterlacing (film) Pass Good
Motion resolution (max) 300 Poor
Motion resolution (dejudder off) 300 Poor
Input lag (Game mode) 44.2 Average

LG 47LA6200 CNET review calibration results

LG_47LA6200_35576427_12.jpg
5.8

LG LA6200 series

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 5Value 5
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