Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement | How we test TVs
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 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|
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.
|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|
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.
Most of the nonstreaming apps, with the exception of Picasa, a clock for time zones around the world, an onscreen calendar, and a few games, come courtesy of Yahoo Widgets. At the time of this writing, the LX9500 has access to 18 widgets, but still no Facebook, which both Samsung and Vizio do have.
Yahoo's platform is more usable than last year on LG, and better on the LX9500 than on some other 2010 models, with snappier responses to button presses and faster load times for individual widgets. In comparison, however, the apps platforms of Samsung and Vizio still felt snappier than LG's widgets, and content selection was wider on Samsung, Vizio, and Sony.
LG's games platform, not to be confused with the games included with Yahoo widgets, includes extremely basic custom titles, for example Sudoku and Whack a Mole. Of course you'll need to buy the external speakerphone kit to use Skype. It (still) hasn't been released, so we didn't test it for this review.
|Adjustable picture modes||6||Independent memories per input||Yes|
|Dejudder presets||2||Fine dejudder control||Yes|
|Aspect ratio modes -- HD||6||Aspect ratio modes--SD||5|
|Color temperature presets||3||Fine color temperature control||10-point|
|Gamma presets||3||Color management system||Yes|
In 2D mode, the LG LX9500 is among the best on the market for sheer numbers of adjustable parameters. It offers the ability to adjust dejudder processing, a welcome extra pioneered by Samsung last year. There are also specific gamma settings (1.9, 2.2, and 2.4) in the excellent 10-point IRE system available in the Expert menu, as well as a second THX picture preset; now you can choose from THX Cinema or THX Bright Room, although neither is user-adjustable without inputting a special code.
As with last year, all of the adjustable picture modes can be separate for each input. We also liked the improvements made to the Picture Wizard, which consists of a series of test patterns that can help nonexperts adjust basic controls and get the gist of what picture setup is all about.
In 3D mode the LG LX9500 offers far fewer settings than the competition. Only three nonadjustable picture presets--Standard, Cinema and Game--are available. The standard menu system doesn't operate, and nearly every normal option, from dejudder control (thankfully it's disabled for 3D) to basic brightness and contrast settings, are inaccessible.
|Power-saver mode||Yes||Ambient light sensor||Yes|
|Picture-in-picture||No||Onscreen user manual||Yes|
The ambient light sensor can be engaged by choosing the Intelligent Sensor picture mode, and you can choose a "screen off" option in the TV's energy saver menu to just get sound, reducing consumption to 36 watts. LG calls its onscreen manual "simple" and that's definitely the case--it's more like a rundown of features than a usable manual.
|HDMI inputs||3 back, 1 side||Component video inputs||1 back, 1 side|
|Composite video input(s)||1 back, 1 side||S-Video input||0|
|VGA-style PC input(s)||1||RF input(s)||1|
|AV output(s)||0||Digital audio output||1 optical|
|USB port||2 side||Ethernet (LAN) port||Yes|
The LG's input scheme is pretty standard aside from the necessity to use breakout cables (included) to connect component or composite sources to the side. The side bay is narrow enough that LG recommends a width no greater than 10mm (0.39 inch) for HDMI and USB cables/thumbdrives. The second USB port is nice if you monopolize the first with the optional Wi-Fi dongle.
Overall the LX9500 is an excellent performer with 2D material, and extremely similar, as expected, to the LE8500. Both deliver some of the deepest black levels and most accurate color available today, and off-angle viewing was better than that of any LED we've tested. On the other hand we saw the same uniformity and bright-lighting issues on both sets, and unlike the LE8500 the LX9500 couldn't handle 1080p/24 content properly. Check below for details, many of which will be familiar to readers of the LE8500 review, and skip to the bottom for notes on 3D picture quality.
As with the LE8500 we reviewed earlier, the most accurate picture preset on the LX9500 was THX Cinema, which delivered a relatively linear grayscale (except for dark areas) and gamma (averaging a nearly-perfect 2.21) while maxing out at 36ftl, quite close to our 40ftl target. Unlike the 8500, however, we measured a relatively blue grayscale overall in THX (see below) and Expert in the Warm setting.
Our calibration, as usual for LG, took good advantage of the Expert Modes' many settings, and it provided a big improvement. We achieved a virtually flat grayscale, aside from very dark areas, maintained that near-perfect gamma, and removed the blue cast. We also used the CMS to good effect.
For the majority of the image quality tests below we employed "The Dark Knight" on Blu-ray along with the following side-by-side lineup.
|LG 47LE8500||47 inch full-array local dimming LED|
|Sony XBR-52HX909||52-inch full-array local dimming LED|
|Vizio XVT553SV||55-inch full-array local dimming LED|
|Samsung UN55C8000||55-inch edge-lit local dimming LED|
|Panasonic TC-P50VT25||50-inch plasma|
|Samsung PN50C7000||50-inch plasma|
|Pioneer PRO-111FD (reference)||50-inch plasma|
Black level: In this crucial category the LX9500 delivered an excellent performance, producing a shade of black on par with the best TVs in our lineup. In numerous mostly dark shots, such as the flyover of the nighttime cityscape in Chapter 2, the depth of black and near-black areas was deeper and more realistic than on either of the Samsungs and the Vizio, and every bit as inky as what we saw on the LE8500, the HX909, and the other two plasmas.
It was tough to choose depth-of-black winner among those four, even in our side-by-side comparison, to the extent that any difference is more likely because of nuances of calibration than panel performance. That said, we feel the LGs (which were essentially identical) had a slight edge over the Sony, thanks mainly to their superior ability to limit blooming--where dark areas adjacent to lighter ones become slightly brighter because of stray illumination of the LED elements. Of course, the Panasonic and Pioneer plasmas showed no blooming and evinced superior perceived contrast overall, mainly because the bright areas in darker scenes, such as the windows in the buildings, appeared brighter than on the LCDs.
Speaking of blooming, it wasn't an issue in most scenes on the LGs. It was most obvious when we called up menus, whether from our PS3 or from the disc itself, that appeared amid black areas and brightened the surround slightly. The effect was less obvious on the LGs than on the Sony or the Samsung, and about the same as the Vizio. When we moved our seat off-angle, blooming intensified significantly, as usual (see Uniformity below).
Shadow detail was also excellent on the LX9500. The interior of the Batmoble in Chapter 2 revealed subtle details on the steering column and dashboard computer ("INTIMIDATE"!), details that weren't visible on the Samsungs or the Sony.
Color accuracy: The LX9500 again performed extremely well in this department. Around the restaurant table in Chapter 5, for example, the skin tones of Rachel and Dent were closer to our reference than any of the other TVs, with the exception of the Vizio, where they looked nearly identical. The LG beat the saturation of the Vizio by just a bit, however, thanks to its deeper black levels. The LG's primary and secondary color accuracy also showed through on Rachel's red dress, along with the green of the pool table felt (Chapter 9) and the cyan of the sea and sky (Chapter 10).
As with the LE8500, the LX9500's black areas remained relatively true as opposed to dipping into bl