|Name||55-inch LED-backlit LCD TV: LG Cinema 3D Smart TV (55LM9600)|
|At a glance:||Passive 3D technology,Extra sets of glasses cost just a few bucks,Uses a Wiimote-like pointer to navigate,Slim and lightweight|
|Summary:||High-end 3D TVs have never looked so good.|
It’s taken a while for smart TVs to become easy to use, but it finally appears that companies like LG are getting there. LG is making a big grab for the high-end TV market, and has clearly paid attention to detail when putting together the LM9600.
The design of LG’s LM9600 is fantastic. It’s very stylish, with an ultra-thin bezel. Despite its 55-inch display, it’s only 38mm thick. The LM9600 wouldn’t look out of place in anyone’s living room, and is flat and light enough to easily mount on a wall. If you’d rather use a stand, the LM9600 comes with one that you may or may not like – it’s silver-painted plastic, and an unusual shape that makes it look like an oversized bottle opener.
Unlike many TV manufacturers, LG got it right the first time when it chose to perfect passive 3D technology – the kind that’s used in your local movie theatre – rather than venture into the active technology. Not only is passive technology cheaper, but extra sets of 3D glasses cost just a few dollars and it’s crisper, brighter and less likely to induce a headache. However, the downside of LG’s 3D display is that using 3D lowers the resolution to 720p, rather than the full 1080. However, we barely noticed the difference. Also, if you’re too close to it – less than a metre away – you begin to see the layers of the 3D images on-screen, but if your eyesight is so bad that you need to sit directly in front of a 55-inch TV, you have bigger problems than a fuzzy image.
While the 3D technology is the major drawcard, the LM9600 is ‘smart’, too. It has a built-in Wi-Fi receiver with 802.11a/b/g/n standards, and we found it easy to connect to a home Wi-Fi network. It comes with a number of in-built apps and online functionality, including a web browser, YouTube and social media.
Typically, the problem with smart TVs is that they’re exceedingly difficult to use.
It’s hard to select things, or very slow to select things using the buttons on your TV remote. The apps are often unintuitive or downright terrible to use, or missing key features.
While the apps themselves still leave something to be desired on the LM9600, LG has at least solved its control problems by including a ‘pointer’ that works similarly to a Wiimote or the PlayStation Move controller. You point it at the part of the screen you want to access, and click a button.
The pointer isn’t perfect – we had to turn the sensitivity all the way down for it to be accurate enough to use – but it’s better than a regular remote, or gesture-based smart TVs like Samsung’s E8000, which we reviewed in our July issue. If you really hate the pointer, you can just plug in any standard USB keyboard and use it, although the USB ports are all at the back so the wireless receiver can get blocked by the TV’s display, making some wireless keyboards difficult to use. When using web browsing and search, you’ll often have to type, which can be difficult using the on-screen QWERTY keyboard and pointer, so it might be handy to have a keyboard to plug in if you plan to use the internet features a lot.
Want to watch in 2D? No problem! The LM9600 handles both 2D and 3D like a champ, with little motion blur, good contrast and bright, vibrant, and accurate colours. The only issue we found is that whites sometimes seemed just the tiniest bit dark – but it was so subtle that most of the time we couldn’t tell.
Sound quality was good on the LM9600, although many people with TVs of this size will have dedicated sound systems to back them up. Regardless, there was no crackling through the TV’s own speakers at everyday volumes, and the settings were very adjustable.
If you’re looking at buying a 3D smart TV, we’d recommend this one over all the others we’ve seen thus far. While it still has some usability issues, navigating the OS is much improved on previous smart TVs and the stunningly clear picture sold us on it. It doesn’t come cheap, but if you’re willing to spend, head down to your local electronics store and see for yourself.