LG 55LM9600 LED TV
First Australian review: LG's top LED TV for 2012
- Excellent detail and contrast
- Great speakers for a TV
- Slim bezel and attractive design
- Minor backlight bloom in dark scenes
- Local dimming doesn’t always work
- Bulky stand
LG’s top TV uses a local dimming LED backlight and can create excellent pictures with the right settings. Dark scenes don’t always look perfect though. We love the design and the speakers are great.
Price$ 4,599.00 (AUD)
The Standard, Cinema and Game presets are generally good, although the Vivid preset was far too bright and oversaturated colours. We thought Cinema was the best looking default profile, although we opted to lower the backlight to suit our dim room settings. We also lowered brightness and colour saturation slightly and warmed the colour temperature — every default setting is a cool white rather than our preferred daylight white.
Contrast levels are reasonably good with all the dynamic contrast and colour boosters disabled. Blacks are a little greyer than we would have liked in this setting, but switching Dynamic Contrast to low does solve this. Various other enhancements — Dynamic Colour, Clear White and Super Resolution edge sharpening — also do a good job of giving video more ‘pop’.
Once we adjusted all the LG LM9600’s settings to suit our tastes, we found that it produced a very high quality picture with generally good black levels (more on that soon), good control over colours, and excellent detail from Blu-ray video. We’re happy with the video performance of the LM9600, with a few caveats.
The local dimming of the LG LM9600 alters different sections of the backlight ‘sheet’ of LEDs to suit whatever content is being shown, lowering brightness to deepen blacks and raising brightness to brighten whites. The LM9600’s backlight setup uses a smaller number of backlight zones than last year’s LX9500, though — while the 55LX9500 had 240 local dimming zones, we’re told the LM9600 has only 24 — and this does have a detrimental effect on the TV’s ability to dynamically dim scenes.
In the majority of TV, downloaded video and Blu-ray movies we watched, we didn’t notice any problems with the LED backlighting. Some specific scenes — the opening night sequences of The Dark Knight and the rolling credits at the end of any movie, for example — do show the rough nature of the LG LM9600’s local dimming: large segments light up and dim as scrolling bright white words move down the screen, giving a minor blooming effect.
Once we turned the dynamic local dimming off, we did notice a small amount of continuous backlight bloom from the LG LM9600, particularly in the top left and bottom right corners near the bezel. This effect means that some irregular patches of the screen are slightly brighter than others, and while it isn’t noticeable during most viewing it is visible when no video is being shown.
When it’s displaying fast-moving video, the LG LM9600 does a very good job. It’s a 400Hz panel (200Hz with backlight scanning), and there are three settings for the TruMotion motion control: Smooth, Clear, and Clear Plus. We opted for Clear Plus most of the time as it does by far the best job of displaying video without judder, but Clear also does a good job and is more appropriate for bright rooms — Clear Plus does lower overall screen brightness when operating.
The LG LM9600’s screen is moderately reflective. It’s not as bad as most of last year’s plasma TVs, which were glossy and extremely distracting, but in a bright room its mirror effect is noticeable when the screen is turned off. If the TV is turned on and a bright scene is on, the reflective finish isn’t a problem. Dark scenes do allow some external reflections to be seen.
The LG LM9600 is a Cinema 3D model, using thin and cheap ($19 for two) polarised 3D glasses like you get at the cinema. We found the 3D effect to be generally impressive during the majority of our watching — Ocean Wonderland 3D, Avatar 3D and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 3D — with four settings for cinema, standard, extreme 3D and custom adjustment. We found the standard setting looked the best, with cinema and extreme causing some visible cross-over problems. Getting close to the screen does show off horizontal line splitting (inherent to the Cinema 3D tech) but at normal viewing distances this isn’t visible.
Four sets of 3D glasses are included with the LM9600. 2 of LG’s DualPlay glasses are also bundled for private split-screen multiplayer gaming. This year’s Cinema 3D glasses are larger than 2011’s, with thinner frames. They’re more comfortable and let you move your head more while watching 3D.
LG LM9600: Sound quality
We thought it was worth mentioning the speakers inside the LG LM9600. A premium TV like this is a likely candidate to be paired with a high quality home theatre system, but even on its own the LM9600 is able to produce surprisingly high quality audio. Two 10W stereo speakers are joined by a 10W subwoofer built into the rear of the TV’s chassis, and the end result is a sound system that has surprising mid-range power and clear treble response. It’s not going to shake your floor, but at higher volumes the LM9600 was able to rumble the table we had it sitting on.
There are a variety of sound modes — Cinema, Music, 3D Surround and so on — and a Clear Voice mode that raises the volume of dialogue. There’s also an automatic volume leveller. We don’t usually like all this frippery but on the LM9600 it does a good job of extending the soundstage and we did appreciate a slight boost to the individual treble and bass settings.
LG LM9600: Conclusion
The LG LM9600 is a generally impressive TV. Its picture quality in the default settings, and after some adjustment, looks very detailed. Our test clips displayed good contrast and impressive colour control. The backlight of the LM9600 is imperfect though, with a little bloom visible — we would have been happier if it had retained the more sensitive local dimming zones of last year’s model. Apart from this issue the LM9600 is a good performer.
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