LG 84LM9600 4K Ultra Definition LED TV

We put the new 84-inch LG Ultra Definition TV through its paces

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LG 84LM9600
  • LG 84LM9600
  • LG 84LM9600
  • LG 84LM9600

Pros

  • Excellent detail levels with 4K video
  • Good quality upscaling of 1080p Blu-ray movies

Cons

  • Minor backlight inconsistency
  • Hardly any 4K content available
  • Expensive

Bottom Line

LG's Ultra Definition television is a novel piece of technology, showing off an extremely high resolution panel that at the moment is hamstrung by a lack of content.

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Yesterday, LG took the wraps off its new 84-inch Ultra Definition TV, the 84LM9600. It’s one of the largest televisions you can buy in Australia, sitting up top with a 75-inch Samsung, Sharp’s 80-inch AQUOS, and Sony’s own 84-inch 4K TV.

We’ll see the LG 84LM9600 start to appear on a (very limited) number of (very sturdy) shelves in electronics stores around the country from November 19.

LG is targeting buyers with “very high disposable incomes”, according to marketing director Lambro Skropidis, with the TV’s recommended retail price pegged at $15,999.

We sat down this morning for a couple of hours of hands-on time with the 84LM9600, and we came away impressed.

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The first thing we watched was an LG demo reel of 4K content, running through a PC connected over HDMI. The 4K (3840x2160 pixel, 24p) footage was made up of time-lapse video created from still images shot with a digital SLR — one of the few ways to make video at the 4K resolution without needing a Hollywood production company.

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When it’s playing video at its native resolution, the LG UD TV looks excellent. All those extra pixels mean that high quality video is displayed with a lot more detail than a 1080p Full HD TV of the same size could produce. The TimeScapes footage is very, very well shot, with crisp focus, excellent contrast and colour grading — it would flatter any television that it was playing on, but we thought it looked very good on the 84LM9600 nonetheless.

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Our next test subject was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on the PlayStation 3. This was running at 1080p at 60Hz, with the UD TV upscaling the video output to the screen’s native resolution through its ‘Resolution Upscaler Plus’ circuitry. We’ve never thought Modern Warfare 3 was a particularly good-looking game — we’re firmly in the Battlefield 3 camp — but it did look smooth and reasonably clean.

After TimeScapes as a benchmark, it was obvious that we weren’t viewing native-resolution 4K material — there was some blurriness on the edges of text, and minor aliasing on diagonal lines. These are visual flaws that are evident on any display that’s upscaling low-resolution content, though, especially when you’re upscaling video to four times its original size. Playing Modern Warfare 3 was the least impressive thing we did with the LG 84LM9600, and even then we weren’t unhappy with the results.

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We gave our go-to test discs, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight on Blu-ray, a solid run-through, checking for the same contrast, colour, brightness, lighting and motion benchmarks that we look for in any television. Like the smaller LG 55LM9600 that the 84-inch UD TV shares its design and model number with, our results were mostly impressive.

The screen has excellent control over colour, very impressive dynamic brightness control and great detail in the default presets. We did half our viewing in the Vivid picture mode — it has the most ‘pop’, but does blow out bright and dark detail areas — and half in the Cinema picture mode — more detailed and a truer-to-life white balance, but at the cost of overall brightness and some wow factor.

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As a comparison point, this 4K 84-inch TV has as many pixels per square inch as a 42in 1080p Full HD TV. If you’ve got a Full HD TV that’s larger than 42-inches, its pixels are larger and images will look less crisp — and above the large-screen barrier of 65-inches, the extra resolution of a 4K TV makes an appreciable difference at a standard viewing distance.

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Black levels with all the dynamic contrast, dynamic colour and black level software trickery turned off are good — like the smaller LM9600, this UD TV is one of the better LED TVs we’ve seen for watching high quality, high contrast movie footage. The TV did a reasonably good job of upscaling the 1080p Blu-ray video to suit its 4K native resolution — we didn’t see any aliasing, and the overall picture was smooth while retaining all the detail we’ve seen on smaller 1080p screens.

We generally don’t like enabling dynamic settings that don’t have some hardware impact, and LED local dimming is the exception, here — it actually has an impact on the screen’s backlight, where the other settings just mess with the video before it’s shown. It’s not as good as a high quality plasma screen, and probably won’t be up to par with an OLED panel, but the LG UD TV does pretty well for an LCD.

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Being an edge-lit LED television, and being a particularly large display size, we weren’t surprised to find some small uniformity problems with the 84LM9600’s backlight. There was no blooming at the edge of the screen that we were able to see, and for the most part the screen’s brightness was consistent across the frame, but there were two areas of slightly darker-than-average lighting just off-centre on the left and right of the screen. These weren’t visible during regular viewing.

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We thought the screen had just the right amount of anti-glare coating, boosting colour and contrast nicely but without picking up excessive reflections from bright light sources in the room. As usual, the reflectivity is most obvious when the screen is turned off.

We were similarly impressed with the screen’s ability to handle fast motion. It’s a 200Hz panel with a scanning LED backlight, so it handled our test footage from Fast and Furious and The Dark Knight well — no jitter or break-up across the frame even in fast motion using the TruMotion Clear Plus mode in the Cinema preset, although TruMotion Smooth in the Vivid mode can get ever so slightly blurry with the same footage.

All in all, we were most impressed with the amount of detail that the LG 84LM9600 UD TV could display when it was showing a native 4K video source. This is the TV’s strong point, since in many other aspects it’s largely just a super-sized version of LG’s flagship LED TV. As it stands, getting enough 4K content to flatter the UD TV daily is going to be an issue — we’re hopeful that a 4K video standard (that’s not streaming YouTube) is implemented soon and accompanying hardware and movie titles are released.

Time will tell, but until then you’ll be able to find the LG 84LM9600 for $15,999 when it turns up around Australia on November 19.

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