Last Updated: November 10, 2013
2011 LG LED TV Sets
Full Product Evaluation - Part 2
More affordable 3D, 240Hz and 480Hz technology,
and improved backlight technology
In this second part of our LG LED TV review, we discuss the 2011 LG Infinia LED TVs, from LG's entry-level 120Hz LV5500 series to the LG LW6500 premium LED HDTVs.
We also look at the recently released LG 55-inch 55LW9800 flagship set; the latter is characterized by LG's superior Nano LED backlight technology apart from a very expensive price tag!
In general however, the LG Infinia line delivers a superior feature set and innovative technology at a somewhat more affordable price than most of the competition.
Read here to discover what is exactly on offer for 2011 from this leader in the field of LED HDTVs.
Samsung UN60F8000 60-Inch 1080p 240Hz 3D Ultra Slim Smart LED HDTV
This high-end feature rich LED HDTV comes with Samsung's Micro dimming Ultimate LED backlight technology - among the best in its class for black level performance. It is also the TV with the best feature set.
2012 LG LED TVs: An extensive lineup of affordable HDTVs - Introduction
Next in line: LG Infinia LED TV Lineup for 2011
LG's entry-level and step-up LED TV series referred to in the first part of this article represent affordable LED TV options for general home use. Yet, it is with the Infinia line of LG LED TVs that things start to get really exciting.
Infinia combines a more aesthetically pleasing design with enhanced connectivity and a superior feature set.
All LG Infinia HDTVs come with the latest Smart TV portal, characterized by LG's unique Magic Motion remote even though on some of the TV series, this is only available as optional.
Stepping into Infinia brings 120Hz refresh rate technology. Further up the Infinia line, we find 3D with LG's passive 3D glasses technology—termed Cinema 3D; this makes for a more affordable 3D entertainment in the home. Other features on LG's Infinia LED TVs include TruMotion 240Hz processing for premium LED TVs and 480Hz technology on LG's flagship LED HDTV. The latter more significant upgrade however is not 480Hz technology but LG's Nano LED backlight. This is also the reason why the recently released LG flagship LED TV is being labeled as the best LED TV LG every made. Nano LED is among the most impressive LED backlight technologies, offering the superior picture quality of a full LED array with local dimming in an ultra slim profile.
120Hz Entry-Level LG LED TVs - LV5500: Offering More for Less!
The LV5500 is LG's Infinia LED TV series that in our option gives you more for less. Like the LV3700, LV5500 LG LED TVs come with Smart TV but includes the popular Magic Motion remote and LG's Wi-Fi adaptor as part of the TV bundle.
LG has got two other 120Hz entry-level LED TV series, the LV5300 and LV5400. Both come with an almost identical feature set to that of the LV5500; however, the LV5300 does not include the Smart TV platform while LV5400 HDTVs include Smart TV but lacks the LG Magic Motion remote; the latter is an optional extra.
Main LV5500 upgrade over the LV3700 series is 120Hz TruMotion dejudder technology. 120Hz processing helps improve motion resolution, thus reducing blur. However, the benefits of 120Hz refresh rate with broadcast content are difficult to discern. Instead, when combined with 24p Real Cinema 5:5 Pulldown technology, LG's TruMotion 120Hz helps produce sharper images from film based content without the use of 2:3 pulldown processing.
2:3 pulldown processing leads to an unnatural hitching, jerky effect so much typical of 60Hz HDTVs when displaying 24-frame film base content. LG eliminates judder completely by interpolating four extra movie frames for every video frame to create the 120Hz refresh rate.
Other features include enhanced connectivity complemented by four HDMI inputs, and an improved dynamic contrast ratio rating of 5 million:1 over the 4 million:1 of the LV3700 HDTVs. One should note here that static contrast performance is a lot less; in addition, what these big contrast ratio numbers really mean in practical terms is another issue and for this we advise you to check our contrast ratio article.
The LG LED TV Series with the Best Overall Value
The LV5500 is the HDTV series that is proving to be among the most popular LG LED TVs for 2011 thanks to its enhanced feature set and great picture—one that is crisp, with relatively accurate colors and that is viewable from a relatively wider angle of view compared with other LED TVs. You will have to calibrate these LG LED TVs to enjoy the best picture but the capability is there; in any case, the built-in Picture Wizard II feature makes TV picture calibration a simple five minutes task. Furthermore, the large number of picture adjustments present on this TV makes it relatively easy to enjoy the best picture for your liking.
For those who would like to use one of the built-in picture modes, Cinema mode gives a relatively accurate picture but we suggest not to set the Energy Saving option to Auto as this will result in a noticeable overall dimming of the backlight during very dark scenes. On the more expensive LED TV models using LG LED Plus backlight technology with localized dimming, this is not the case.
Connecting this Smart TV to your home network is a straightforward job; it is just a matter of entering your network settings.
Bottom Line: This is the LG LED TV series that in our opinion, gives you the best overall value for your money. It comes in a nice slim design, is extremely energy efficient (like most LED TVs), includes numerous picture controls, and lots of connectivity. It also includes one of the best Smart TV features for 2011; include the optional LG Magic Motion remote and you will definitely enjoy one of the best Smart TV experiences around.
It will not bring you 3D, nor does it come with built-in Wi-Fi as some of Samsung Series 6 LED TV competition, though it comes with the LG Wi-Fi adaptor for free as part of this TV bundle. More important for the budget conscious however is that LV5500 LG LED TVs come at a cheaper price than most of the competition from other major brands, especially at the larger 55-inch screen size.
Available TV screen sizes include 42-inch, 47-inch, and 55-inch. Best-selling model at the time of this write-up is the 42-inch 42LV5500 with an online price tag of just $745; this is also LG's best-selling 42-inch LED TV for 2011. The other models within this series are also equally affordable, with a price that range from less than $900 for the 47-inch to $1,150 for the 55-inch.
Stepping into the World of 3D - LW5600: 3D at home on the cheap!
55-inch LG 55LW5600 120Hz
The LG LW5600 is the best-selling LG 3D HDTV for 2011. It uses passive 3D glasses technology; these are more comfortable and significantly less expensive than active 3D TV glasses. The LW5600 also comes complete with the latest Smart TV feature, is Wi-Fi ready, and utilized LG LED Plus with local dimming backlight technology.
For 2010, 3D was reserved for flagship models; this year, 3D at home is being made available on much more affordable sets. A case in point is the LW5600 series of LG LED TVs, with its 47-inch selling at close to $1,000 while the more popular 55-inch is selling online at $1,450; the 55LW5600 is LG's best selling 55-inch LED TV for 2011.
Apart from the somewhat cheaper price than the competition, these 3D LG LED TVs include four pairs of passive 3D glasses.
As indicated under part 1 of this LG LED TV review, passive 3D glasses are similar to those used in movie theaters; these make use of inexpensive circularly polarized filters. The absence of batteries leads to a lighter design for a better user experience. Additionally, these systems produce zero flicker and reduced 3D image crosstalk.
As with most 3D capable 2011 HDTVs, LG 3D TVs come with 2D-to-3D conversion feature which transform 2D material on-the-fly to be viewed as 3D. The result is a pleasing 3D experience but it is far from what you will enjoy with true 3D material at source.
Apart from 3D TV, the other main upgrade over the less expensive LV5500 series is LG LED Plus with zone dimming backlight technology. Originally introduced in 2010, this is basically the same edge LED lighting found on standard LED TVs but introduces 16 addressable backlight zones which can be dimmed independent of each other.
As stated elsewhere on our site, this does not provide the same level of localized control as found on sets using the more expensive full LED array with local dimming backlight technology. However, reviewers all agree that this improved edge-lit LED backlight technology provides significant picture quality improvement for less. The ability to dim selected areas on the screen helps improve the TV picture black level performance—a most important aspect in picture quality as it helps improve the realism of dark scenes while making colors look richer and more saturated. The price to pay for this more affordable LED backlight technology is the presence of some visible blooming between picture zones and more dimmed highlights in predominantly dark picture scenes.
Included with the LW5600 3D LED TVs is LG's unique magic motion remote. As stated in our introduction, this provides for a more natural way of controlling the on-screen cursor to browse the Internet on your LG TV. All other features are basically the same as those found on the less expensive LV5500 series LG LED TVs—including 120Hz TruMotion panel refresh rate technology.
The only exception is a slightly improved dynamic contrast ratio rating for the LW5600 series (8M:1 instead of the 5M:1 of the LV5500). This difference however is only academic; you will not be able to perceive this improved contrast ratio with the unaided eye.
LG has a somewhat cheaper variant of the LW5600, labeled as the LW5700. It uses the same LED Plus technology and comes with almost the same specs sheet as the LW5600 except that LG's Magic Motion remote is not part of the LW5700 TV bundle; this has to be purchased separately. One other minor difference is a slightly reduced contrast ratio rating of 7M:1. We therefore expect the LW5700 to enjoy the same picture quality of the LW5600.
It is definitely a case that the LG LED TV picture quality has come a long way during these last few years. It may not have the same deep blacks of the Samsung or Panasonic premium plasma HDTVs but the LW5600 TV series is capable of a truly stunning picture. Despite the relatively low price bracket, it comes with excellent deep blacks that outdo most TVs from other major brands including Sony. The LW5600 is also capable of accurate colors in both dark and bright areas of the image, and uniform screen brightness—one that in our opinion is much better than that supported by many other edge-lit LED TVs from the competition.
Best out-of-the-box picture mode is the Expert Mode even though you will need to calibrate this TV to enjoy the best colors. Achieving the perfect color is not difficult thanks to LG's excellent grayscale and comprehensive color management user controls.
For those who will be watching their TV under bright lighting, this LG LED TV matte screen is surely a big plus; not only it can do a better job in reducing reflections of brightly lit objects in the room than the glossy screens found on most of the latest LED TVs, it can maintain the correct black levels even in a bright room environment.
3D TV picture performance is surprisingly good; the LG passive 3D glasses technology results in improved user experience thanks to the lighter 3D glasses that feels more comfortable during use, reduced 3D image crosstalk, and a brighter image than active 3D glasses technology. On the other hand, it produces a rather softer 3D image than active 3D glasses technology due to the reduced image resolution. This is mainly visible on the larger 55-inch sets in side-by-side comparisons with active glasses 3D TV sets when viewing at close distances. In any case, the LG 3D image quality and depth are outstanding despite the more affordable price. Surprisingly good is the LG 2D-to-3D conversion function; it is not something you will want to use at all times but you do get a pleasing 3D image that is easy to watch.
Overall... The LW5600 LG LED TV series offers one of the best values all-round for those looking for the latest hot specs in HDTV home entertainment—3D and Smart TV. These LG LED TVs offer solid 3D picture albeit slightly softer image than active 3D glasses technology systems, excellent 2D picture quality for an edge-lit LED TV, and a well built Smart TV portal.
Available models include the 47-inch 47LW5600 and the 55-inch LG 55LW5600; both are popular among budget-conscious home theater enthusiasts, with the 55-inch proving to be among the best-selling 3D HDTVs with Smart TV for 2011 irrespective of brand.
LG LW6500: LG's premium 3D 240Hz LED HDTV with Smart TV
The LG LW6500 compromises three screen sizes, 47-inch, 55-inch, and the largest within the LG LED TV lineup for 2011, the 65-inch 65LW6500.
LW6500 LED HDTVs are in effect the 240Hz equivalent of the LW5600 120Hz LG LED TVs. In fact, the only significant upgrade over the less expensive series is 240Hz refresh rate panel technology. Otherwise, the two series come with an almost identical feature set except for a minor difference in the rated dynamic contrast ratio rating, namely a dynamic contrast rating of 9M:1 for the premium series as against the 8M:1 of the LW5600.
We did not review this LG LED TV series but we except an almost identical picture quality performance to that of the LW5600 features above. As detailed in our contrast ratio article, contrast ratings at these levels are more academic and designed mainly by TV makers to help them sell over the competition. In addition, as expressed elsewhere on the site, the benefits of 240Hz refresh rate technology over 120Hz are difficult to discern with 2D material unless you use specially designed test patterns; the real benefits of 240Hz technology are mainly visible with 3D movie watching since the way present 3D TV technology works implies that the effective panel refresh rate each individual eye sees is half that of the display panel refresh rate.
This means that if you will be watching a lot of 3D movie content, this is the LG LED TV series to consider. Note however that while the 47-inch 47LW6500 is selling online at under $1,100—just $60 more than the 120Hz LW5600 equivalent, at the 55-inch, the price difference between the two series shoots to $550! This in our opinion represents a too expensive jump in price when considering that all you will be getting as extra is 240Hz refresh rate technology. At this price level, the LG 55-inch 55LW6500 faces some really tough competition from the Samsung D8000 LED TV series, in which case, the Samsung offers a better option. This partly explains why at the 47-inch screen category, it is the 47LW6500 the best-selling LG LED TV while at the larger 55-inch, it is the 55LW5600 the best-selling LG LED TV.
Things are somewhat different at the 60-inch plus category. If what you are after is a massive top premium LED TV, the LG 65-inch 65LW6500 offers a significant price advantage over corresponding Samsung D8000 LED TVs, with the 65-inch LG LED TV selling at just less than the 60-inch Samsung D8000 and over a $1,000 less than the very expensive 65-inch Samsung D8000 equivalent.
The 55LW9800: LG's best local dimming LED HDTV ever but...
Earlier in September, LG announced the availability of the long awaited flagship LED TV for 2011, the 55-inch 55LW9800.
This is the only screen size available within the LW9800 series, and at $3,800 it comes at a rather very expensive price.
It uses LG's superior Nano LED backlight technology—which as further explained in our LCD TV Technology guide, is a derivative of the integrated optical plate LED system introduced in 2010; this enabled LG to produce LED TVs using full array local dimming in a thin panel profile, one that is more typical of edge-lit LED TVs than full array local dimming HDTVs.
The new Nano LED represents a further improvement over 2010 technology by combining an even slimmer design, one that LG defines as 'impossibly thin', to what we 'expect' to be a superior picture performance thanks to a larger number of LEDs placed directly behind the LCD panel, and an increased number of independent dimmable screen zones. We say 'expect' because we did not review this set nor have come across any professional reviews at the time of this write-up. However, the larger number of independent dimmable screen zones should theoretically lead to a better control over the TV overall picture performance.
Interesting is that originally, the LG flagship for 2011 was supposed to be the LW9500 with active 3D TV glasses technology. However, later during 2011, LG announced a change in its production plans as it moved away completely from active 3D glasses technology on all its LED TVs in favor of passive 3D glasses technology. The latter appears to be coming more of a favorite among end customers.
Apart from Nano LED, other main upgrade features over the premium LW6500 series include THX certification for both 2D and 3D, an improved 10M:1 dynamic contrast ratio rating, and to whatever it is worth, 480Hz refresh rate TruMotion technology. The latter means that the LW9800 supports a refresh rate of 480Hz with 2D and full 240Hz with 3D. Yet as stated earlier on in this article, the benefits of such high refresh rates over 120Hz systems are difficult to perceive without the use of special test patterns even when displaying 3D content!
Is the LW9800 LG LED TV worth your money?
Definitely, this is one of those very expensive HDTVs we are seeing during 2011. We do not have any doubt that this high-end LG TV will deliver an excellent picture; its predecessor—the LX9500—did.
But at these very difficult economic times when every single dollar counts, we seriously think that its expensive price represents the 55LW9800 major drawback against high-end plasma and LED HDTVs from other major brands like Panasonic, Samsung, Sony and Sharp. You see, the LG LW9800 is designed for discerning videophiles and demanding home theater enthusiasts. Yet for significantly less, you can enjoy a high-end top-performing 65-inch plasma TV from Panasonic or Samsung; both the Panasonic 65-inch TC-P65VT30 and the Samsung 64-inch PN64D8000 are selling at under $3,000.
Are you looking for an LED TV?
Amazon.com offers an extensive range of LED TVs, often at significantly reduced prices.