With its new UF950T range LG is betting that if you buy a new TV this year, it's going to be 4K. The ultra-high definition panels are now the standard when it comes to screen resolution on the new crop of smart TVs, boasting a whopping 3,840 x 2,860 pixel resolution. In fact, 66 percent of LG's 2015 range of TVs will be Ultra HD. Likewise, LG's main rival Samsung has 70 percent of its 2015 range in 4K.
As mass adoption of OLED panels remains delayed, the push is on for manufacturers to differentiate their particular 4K offering from the competition.
For the South Korean electronics giant's UF950T range, this means ColourPrime. LG showed off the new tech back at the CES tradeshow at the start of the year. ColourPrime uses a range of phosphor-based LEDs to, according to LG, "display greater colour depth and more lifelike images and a 25 percent increase in colour gamut."
Samsung, for what it's worth, is pushing Nanocrystal technology for its SUHD range, promising "more colours, contrast and brightness", which seems a little to-may-to/to-mah-to to me.
The UF950T series is packed with LG's proprietary technology and comes in 55-, 65- and 79-inch models. It also has price tags almost as big -- you're looking at AU$4,699, AU$6,499 and AU$12,999 respectively.
We had the 65-inch model of the UF950T in the office, but the feature set is pretty much identical across the other two sizes.
There's more to the UF950T range than just fancy names for screens of course. There's also a quad-core processor, a new six-step system for upscaling regular content to Ultra HD and, of course, the WebOS 2.0 smart TV operating system.
But first things first: What's the initial set-up like? One of the tests I like to do is whether you can get a new TV out of the box and assembled by yourself. Happy to say that the 65UF950T does fulfil that criteria, although with a weight of just under 30kg (plus stand) you might need a hand depending on the height of your TV unit.
The base is pleasantly solid, but wide. So be careful if you're placing it on a narrow unit. The four HDMI and three USB ports (one of which is USB 3.0) are very easily accessible on the side, but the LAN port does face down, making it tricky to get a cable in once the TV is upright.
Once you're switched on, the experience will be familiar to anyone who's used an LG smart TV with WebOS. If you haven't, then let's be clear: It's the single best smart TV interface I've ever used. The initial set up walks you carefully through everything using a cartoon penguin (and his friend the Wi-Fi Hedgehog) to make sure you have everything set up.
While 2.0 looks almost identical to the last iteration of WebOS but actually works faster, which is pretty impressive given how slick WebOS was last time I tested an LG TV. The menu bar hits the bottom of the screen as soon as you pretty the home button on the remote and scrolls like silk. It's undeniably an excellent smart TV experience.
The new magic remote works just as well as its predecessors -- the Wii-esque control for cursor tracking is particularly sensitive. If I have one complaint, it's that the main clicking button is also a scroll wheel which means it doesn't quite feel like a button. Instead I found myself accidentally clicking the Home button slightly above. It's something you'd adjust to very quickly, of course.
In the short time we've had the 65UF950T in the office, we've looked at three main things: native 4K video, Blu-ray upscaling and streaming video.
Manufacturers of Ultra HD TVs tend to send out USB sticks with 4K short videos on them to reviewers. These are shot with eye-popping colours and intense detail and they look genuinely great. On the 65-inch screen of the LG TV they are absolutely stunning. And sadly, that just isn't important because until you're buying or renting 4K content easily and affordably, the fact that your TV can play Ultra HD videos doesn't matter one little bit.
What does matter is how good your Blu-ray discs and streaming (or downloaded) videos are going to look, which is all down to the quality of the upscaling. LG's six-step upscaler in the UF950T does a very nice job with Blu-ray. Watching an older title on the LG (in this case "Spider-Man 3") was a far better experience than the film deserved. Action was smooth and the image was crisp, although I did have to move off the Cinema picture pre-set and onto the 'ISF Expert 1' option to get an image I was really happy with. As always, a lot of that comes down to personal tastes.
Netflix, which comes pre-installed on the 65UF950T, was even better. While Netflix is theoretically capable of delivering 4K content, few Aussies who aren't NBN users are ever going to get the kind of internet speeds that will make this happen. Regular Netflix looks very sharp and clean on the LG TV, which it should be noted has been certified by Netflix.
Again, I fiddled a little with the picture defaults -- in this case the night time scenes of "Godzilla" were a little too dark, but it wasn't hard to find a happy medium. The app is fast and smooth to use as well.
LG has partnered with Harmon/Kardon for the speaker system in the UF950T which is a three-way six-speaker setup producing 60W of sound. While it's noticeably better than many other flat panels, I'd still heartily recommend a surround sound system or even a soundbar. If you're looking to drop a few grand on a better-than-average TV, you really shouldn't be skimping on the audio -- it's an essential part of the home theatre experience.
I've only spent a little time with the 65UF980T so far, but what I have seen, I like. It's a solid continuation of what LG have been offering in the smart TV department and WebOS continues to dominate the pack when it comes to smart TV software -- lets see if the new wave of Android-running Sony TVs might prove a suitable challenger.