We really liked the LG LE8500 series, so it's little surprise we also like the company's LX9500, reviewed here, which is basically the same TV plus 3D compatibility. Unless you really want 3D or love the LX9500's thin frame, however, the less-expensive LE8500 is the better choice. Both offer nearly identical 2D picture quality--with a couple of caveats, it's among the best you can get this year from an LCD--that benefits from deep black levels, highly accurate color, and better-than-expected off-angle fidelity. Unfortunately, LG seems to have rushed with the 3D portion of the LX9500, saddling it with a washed-out picture that's as lackluster as the 2D one is punchy, and no way to adjust it. With two-dimensional material, on the other hand, the stylish, well-featured LG LX9500 series is one of the most impressive LED-based LCDs we've tested this year.
Series information: We performed a hands-on evaluation of the 47-inch LG 47LX9500, but this review also applies to the 55-inch LG 55LX9500. Both sizes have identical specs and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality.
|Panel depth||1.3 inches||Bezel width||0.86 inch|
|Single-plane face||Yes||Swivel stand||Yes|
The LX9500's most eye-catching element is the ultrathin bezel. The panel frame around the top and sides of the picture measures just 7/8 of an inch wide--1/4 inch of which is transparent, 5/8 of which is black--so when the TV's turned on, the viewer sees almost all picture and very little, well, TV. Helping add to the illusion is the single flush pane of glasslike material fronting both screen and frame. Below the picture the black is wider and interrupted only by an illuminated LG logo that, yes, you can turn off. A striking, transparent rectangle reminiscent of an ice cube supports the panel, hides a swivel, and does its best to make the TV seem to hover above the glass-topped, black-and-clear stand.
All of these touches create an overall design that's undeniably unique and stylish, but if we had to choose a best-looking TV among 2010 models we've seen so far, we'd still take Sony's Monolithic panels, especially the new KDL-NX810 series.
|Remote control and menus|
|Remote size (LxW)||9.2 x 1.8 inches||Remote screen||N/A|
|Total keys||45||Backlit keys||38|
|Other IR devices controlled||No||RF control of TV||No|
|Shortcut menu||Yes||Onscreen explanations||Yes|
|Other: Secondary motion-sensitive remote control|
One of the step-up features in LG's high-end 2010 TVs, including the LX9500 and the PK950 plasma, is the "Magic Wand" remote, which behaves much like the Wiimote motion controller used with the Nintendo Wii. LG's little clicker fits well in the hand and its few buttons are easy to find by feel, but you really only need two: Home and Select. The former calls up a simplified menu system and a big cursor control, and moving the remote itself to point the cursor activates menu items.
The accuracy of the pointer was very good--better in our experience than even the Wiimote itself--and the jumbo icons help a lot. The novelty of the system wore off quickly, however, and we ended up preferring the standard menu system and multibutton remote, which required only thumb movement. We can imagine that some users intimidated by lots of menu selections might appreciate the Magic Wand, but for most others it's just a gimmick.
LG's standard clicker is a long, thin (thoroughly unmagical) wand with decent button differentiation and friendly, rubberized keys. We liked the bulge in the middle that corresponds with a convenient notch on the underside for your index finger; we missed direct infrared control of other devices. The main menus are basic and functional with plenty of ways to get around, including a nice Quick Menu of shortcuts. We would have liked to see explanations, however, especially for the more-advanced picture setting functions. Another, and more major, omission from the menus is a 3D section; the only way to engage 3D on the LX9500 is to press the 3D button on the remote.
|Key TV features|
|Display technology||LCD||LED backlight||Full-array with local dimming|
|3D compatible||Yes||3D glasses included||No|
|Screen finish||Glossy||Refresh rate(s)||480Hz|
|Dejudder (smooth) processing||Yes||1080p/24 compatible||No|
|Internet connection||Yes||Wireless HDMI/AV connection||Optional|
|Other:Optional 3D glasses (model LG-AS100; $169 list); optional Wi-Fi dongle (AN-WF100, $70); optional wireless media box (AN-WL100W, $350)|
Like most makers of 3D-compatible TVs this year, LG doesn't include any of the required glasses with the LX9500. This model also lacks 2D-to-3D conversion capability, which is available on Samsung and Sony models, as well as the Panasonic GT25 plasma and LG's own PX950. LG is the only maker we've tested so far whose proprietary glasses have rechargeable batteries; the USB charger is included.
Like the 2D-only LE8500 series, the LX9500 sports a full-array LED backlight with local dimming, our favorite kind. LG tells us the 47-incher has 216 independent, dimmable zones, whereas the 55-incher has 240 (more than the local dimmers in Vizio's XVT3SV series, for what it's worth; other makers don't divulge number of zones). The LX9500's refresh rate spec sheet advertises "480Hz," which according to the company is the result of combining the standard 240Hz MEMC processing with a scanning backlight. It's worth noting that unlike the LE8500 series, the LX9500 failed our test for proper 1080p/24 processing. See the Performance section below for details.
|Amazon Video on Demand||No||Rhapsody||No|
LG's 2009 models were among the first to include Netflix, but since that service is now available on most Internet TVs, the company's Netcast array of streaming partners is now pretty pedestrian. There are no major missing links, though, aside from any kind of audio service like Pandora or Slacker radio.
In our tests, Vudu and Netflix performed as advertised, delivering the video quality we expect from both services via both Ethernet and Wi-Fi from LG's dongle, and allowing a good deal of picture control (although not the full array allowed in Expert, below). We didn't test DLNA or USB streaming.
|Other: 10 custom games, world clock, calendar; Skype requires speakerphone accessory (AN-VC100, $110)|