By Branko Miletic
LG knows its TVs. And LG knows very well what consumers like in their TVs – widescreen, quick refresh rate (480Hz) and deep, lifelike colours. On those three points alone, LGs 55-inch (139cm) Full HD 3D LED/LCD Smart TV (LG 55LM9600) ticks all the boxes, and then some.
The company calls this unit a Cinema 3D TV for good reason. At 38mm bezel thickness it’s not as thin as some of its rivals, but certainly thin enough to make it look sleek, and dare I say, svelte. To add to this classy vista is the chrome stand, which is both heavy (read: sturdy) and adds a nice touch to the overall glossy look of this unit.
Then there are all the inputs. One of the things that I liked most about this LG TV was its outputs- 3 x HDMI, 3 x USB 2.0, Ethernet, VGA, component video, antenna, and optical audio or S-cable outputs – especially the optical digital audio output. I was impressed because many TV manufacturers seem to have dropped the optical port. Not a good thing when you have sound systems like my Yamaha that works only on RSA or optical cables. The optical cable gives a clearer digital sound output, so for this feature alone, LG deserves a big tick.
To make all matters audio even tastier, when I disconnected the cable and just used the TV’s own speakers, I was excited by the depth and quality of the in-built sound. OK, it wasn’t the same as my surround sound system, but considering the thinness of the panel, LGs Virtual Surround Sound was another pleasant surprise.
The other big tick from this reviewer was the ‘smarts’ that are incorporated into the TV. Let’s face it, these days, everything that is consumer electronics is branded as being ‘smart’. However LG can truly claim this moniker for their 55-inch TV because of a couple of really neat features.
First is its simple set up. It was so easy that my seven-year-old daughter could do it. Sure, she has seen me set up many similar TVs, but watching her put all the cables in exactly where they belonged and then using the (standard) remote to program the sound feature – via the settings which looks very much like the settings icon on an iPhone – and then use the same icon to ‘OK’ the HDMI port (in this case HDMI 4) for the Foxtel, was a lesson as to how easy TV set ups has become.
To top that off, this LG TV includes what is called Intel's Wi-Fi Direct technology, meaning viewers can wirelessly transmit video from any DNLA compatible PC (except for Macs) to the TV.
And then there is the extra remote- or Smart Remote or Magic Motion Remote depending on who at LG you spoke to. Now I have seen these Wii-like remotes demonstrated at a couple of LG functions and although I am not a fan of them, I found it to come in useful, especially during the set up via the bottom of screen taskbar.
Then there are the options to watch Premium videos, Hulu, Netflix, Kid’s TV, G2 Google TV, Fairfax TC, BigPond, SBS On-Demand, YouTube, Ovation and ABCs iView, meaning even if you don’t have Foxtel, if you add all the free to air channels, this TV will keep you glued to your couch with relative ease.
The standard (2D) picture quality (1080 x 1920) was qite good – not heart-stopping and unbelievably fantastic, but quite good. I found it great for gaming as well, meaning whether its Gears of War or Mario Kart, you’ll be right there, in the non-pixelated thick of the action.
As for the quality of the 3D it is no better or worse than its competition, so I’ll leave that up to your own eyes to decide.
My main gripe was the position of the ports. Believe it or not, the fact they are on the right hand side (when looking at the back of the panel) could mean that some people may have to invest in a couple of extra longer USB, HDMI or optical cables. The best option is to have the ports arranged along the bottom, but hey, as the saying goes, you can’t have everything.
My other (minor) gripe was the price- around $4,500- or $1,500 more expensive than in the US, but to be fair to LG, they are not the first or the last to charge Australians more for their goods. Luckily, as we all know, TV prices always go south, so by Christmas this year, this unit will probably be under the $4,000 mark, making it an almost must-have buy if you will be in the market for a new flatscreen.
Pros: Excellent picture, good in-built sound, Wi-Di technology
Cons: Port positioning; pricing
4.2 Out of 5T Shacks