LG HDTVs have for the past recent years become synonymous with stylish designs, extensive ‘practical’ features, and an appealing price, making these among the most popular TV options for the mainstream market.
2012 LG HDTVs are no exception; rather, these are the LED TVs that are attracting among the best consumer ratings. Instead, professional reviews keep saying that the performance of 2012 LG LED HDTVs is disappointing. Does this mean the latest LG LED TVs are not worthy as a ‘quality’ TV option for home entertainment? What is this mismatch between consumer ratings and professional reviews?
We review LG’s most important HDTVs for 2012 — focusing mainly on LG’s step-up, mid-range and premium series — to discover what exactly is on offer from this TV maker. We conclude this review article by picking the best LG LED HDTVs for 2012.
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Samsung UN60F8000 60-Inch
2012 LG LED TVs: An extensive lineup of affordable HDTVs
The latest lineup of LG LED TVs is possibly the largest lineup for 2012 from a single brand after Samsung.
This year, LG have 24 different 108p and 720p LED TVs spread over ten series. As stated in our introduction, LG’s main characteristic is an attractive design, coupled with extensive features and affordable price.
When it comes to HDTV design, LG has come a long way, doing better in its stylish designs than Samsung. In particular, LG’s latest design — Cinema Screen — used on LG’s upper tier series, is in our opinion the best we have ever seen. It is not just the ultra thin 5mm frame that appeals here but also the overall design and the accompanying elegant ribbon stand.
It is no wonder that it is the LG LM9600 flagship that is being rated in TV reviews as the 2012 HDTV with the best TV design.
LG LED TVs are also complemented by a most extensive feature set, features that unlike Samsung Smart Interactive, you will most probably use.
LG’s unique and extremely functional magic motion remote has now been made available on an even wider range of LG TVs, together with LG’s Smart TV suite and LG’s passive Cinema 3D. The latter has long been the preferred 3D technology by consumers thanks to the cheap and more comfortable 3D glasses. Mind you, passive 3D glasses systems have their drawbacks but they also provide for a better user experience and a 3D image that is practically crosstalk free. Equally extensive is LG’s set of advanced user-adjustable picture controls even on entry-level sets.
There is no doubt that 2012 LG LED TVs represent a most appealing option for the mainstream market. However, it is a fact that over the past years, the LG TV picture has been characterized by relatively lighter black levels with respect to the competition, a problem that seems to have resurfaced once again with the latest LG LED TVs. Deep blacks improves the realism of dark scenes while making colors look richer and more saturated.
We are not saying that the 2012 LG picture quality is not good; these HDTVs come with excellent color accuracy, clean video processing and a solid 2D picture. If it were not so, LG’s upper-tier series would not be among the most popular and best consumer rated HDTVs. A case in point is the 55-inch LG 55LM7600 featured above; this LG TV has so far attracted more than 165 consumer reviews on amazon, out of which 135 assigned an above-average rating.
Nevertheless, overall picture quality may somehow disappoint the most demanding enthusiasts. The real problem here is that the expected improvement in picture quality over 2011 LED HDTVs did not take place. Rather, as with most 2012 LED TVs from other brands like Samsung and even Sony, picture quality took a step back over corresponding 2011 LG LED TVs. A case in point is LG’s LM6700 series, which fails to match the picture quality of its LW5600 predecessor from 2011.
Instead, an area of picture quality in which LG LED TVs prevail is 3D, which thanks to LG’s passive 3D glasses technology, are capable of delivering really good 3D picture with well-defined image depth and practically zero 3D image crosstalk.
‘LS’ Entry-level LG LED TV Series
This LG LED TV is one of the cheapest 42-inch LED TVs for 2012, delivering among the biggest screen size for your dollar. It is an entry-level HDTV but one that still comes with a few interesting features like LG’s Picture Wizard II and Intelligent Sensor.
LS3400 and LS3500 Series
For 2012, LG has four LED TV series that fall within the entry-level category. TVs with screen sizes up to and including 32-inch come as 720p HDTVs while anything larger come as 1080p HDTVs. Series within the entry-level/budget category include the LS3400 ‘direct-LED’ TVs and LS3500 ‘edge-lit LED’ TVs. The only difference here between the two series is the LED backlight.
Direct LED backlight technology is an innovation for 2012 found also on inexpensive LED TVs from other major brands like Samsung and Sharp. ‘Direct LED’ represents a cheaper form of LED lighting that makes use of a full array of LEDs placed directly behind the LCD display panel instead of the more common edge LED backlight. These systems do not make use of any form of local dimming and employ a reduced number of LEDs in comparison to full LED array systems with local dimming LED technology. This leads to a LED backlight that is cheaper to implement than edge-lit LED systems, but that also leads to thicker display panel.
In the case of the LS3400, panel thickness is 3-inches; this contrasts heavily with the 1.8-inch panel depth of the LS3500 entry-level edge-lit series. The latter comes with what LG calls ‘Slim and Narrow’ design. Unlike Samsung, which uses direct LED technology on a number of entry-level series, LG reserves this form of LED backlight to its cheapest series only, the LS3400. The latter represents one of the cheapest LED TV options for 2012, with the 42-inch 42LS3400 featured here selling online at just $500!
Despite being entry-level, these HDTVs come with LG’s renowned Picture Wizard II for easy picture calibration of key picture quality elements such as black level, color, tint, sharpness, and backlight levels, by making use of on-screen reference points.
Other main features include LG’s Intelligent Sensor that automatically optimizes the picture to the lighting and color conditions in the room for a better viewing experience, and Smart Energy saving feature for better energy conservation. These sets also come as ISFccc ready, a rather unique feature on lower-end HDTVs from other brands, and that allows for professional picture calibration of key picture settings that take into account different room lighting conditions.
LG Step-Up LED TV Series
LG step-up series include the LS4600, LS5700, and the LM6200; these still come relatively cheap. All make use of standard edge-lit LED backlights for a slimmer profile that this is no more than 1.4-inches deep at 55-inch, going up to 1.9-inch at 60-inch. These series also form part of LG’s Slim and Narrow’ design category.
This is LG’s entry-level 120Hz LED TV. Apart from LG TruMotion 120Hz technology, these relatively ‘cheap LED TVs’ come with a 1.4-inch slim profile, Picture Wizard II and Smart Energy.
There are also eight picture modes including Intelligent Sensor, and 2 expert modes that allow for ISFccc day and night professionally calibration, and extensive connectivity with 3 HDMI, 1 USB2.0, and LAN connectivity with DLNA support for easy multimedia access from networked PCs.
LS4600 120Hz LED TVs
The LS4600 series is LG’s entry-level 120Hz 2D HDTVs, but that also adds DLNA-certified network connectivity over the cheaper LS3500 series. Screen sizes covered include the popular 55-inch and 47-inch, which at $1,100 and $780 respectively, represent inexpensive big screen HDTV options for general home entertainment.
LS5700 LED TVs with Smart TV
The LG LS5700 series follows on the footsteps of the less expensive series in terms of available features and set design but adds LG Smart TV, Magic Motion remote, and built-in Wi-Fi to the LS4600 feature set.
LG’s unique Magic Motion TV remote is not only extremely responsive but also fun to use. Some may prefer to have a standard TV remote but we think that once you get used to LG’s Magic motion, you will find that it is more convenient in use than a standard TV remote. In particular, this is so when navigating LG’s Smart TV suite. The latter is one of the best Smart TVs, doing better than most of the competition, offering better customization and easily accessible apps, which coupled with LG’s unique Magic Motion remote, makes for a most enjoyable Smart TV experience.
Even better is the LG TV browser with web pages that load faster; but even on these LG LED TVs, TV browsing is suitable for occasional use only as it still needs more refinement both in software and hardware. If you want to browse the Internet while watching TV, nothing beats a tablet or a laptop PC!
Screen sizes covered on the LS5700 series include 42-inch, 47-inch, 55-inch, and the only 60-inch LED TV from LG for 2012. However, like the LS4600 series, it is not the bigger TVs that are doing better in TV sales but the smaller 42-inch LG 42LS5700, which at just $720 on amazon at the time of this write-up, represents among the most valid and inexpensive Smart TV option from a major LED TV brand.
LM6200 3D TV with Smart TV
with LG’s Smart TV
The LM6200 is LG’s best selling 42-inch for 2012 across its full LED TV lineup – offering LG’s excellent passive 3D and the equally excellent LG’s Smart TV suite, at a price that is among the cheapest from a major brand.
Apart from an interesting feature set, this 120Hz LG LED TV comes with six pairs of 3D TV glasses – making the LM6200 the one that delivers among the best value for your money at the budget end category.
The LM6200 series adds passive 3D to the LS5700 for less than $60 over corresponding 42-inch and 47-inch models. Screen sizes include 42, 47, 55, and the only 65-inch LG LED TV for 2012.
Again, it is the smaller sizes that represents the best selling LM6200 LG LED TVs, which at $780 for the 42-inch 42LM6200 and $890 for the 47-inch 47LM6200, make the LM6200 LG series the one to opt for at the budget end category. It is also the 42LM6200 the best selling 42-inch LG LED TV for 2012.
It is not just the attractive price that renders the LM6200 an interesting option but also its relatively good picture (within the limitations of standard edge-lit LED technology).
Like other edge LED TVs, the LM6200 suffers from slight screen uniformity and lighter blacks, but otherwise, picture is very good with accurate color, great contrast and a beautifully rendered 1080p image, even from upscale SD content. Apart from the features already detailed above, these inexpensive LG LED TVs come with a pleasing overall design and extensive connectivity that in the case of LS5700 and LM6200 HDTVs, includes 4 HDMI inputs and 3 USB ports — more than the competition has to offer on even significantly more expensive HDTVs.
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LG G2 Google TV Series
The G2 Google TV is LG’s Google TV version of its popular LM6200 series in which case the LG Smart TV feature is replaced by the Google TV interface for a premium of just $100.
One other difference between these two LG LED TV series is set design, which though still making use of the same Slim and Narrow design found on the LM6200 series, it takes a brushed aluminum finish that is further complemented by LG’s extremely attractive ‘ribbon’ stand.
Labeled as G2 series, the LG Google TV offering comprises a 47-inch and a 55-inch. Picture quality wise, this is not the TV for videophiles and serious home theater use but it is possibly the best Smart TV on the market that comes with the Google TV ver. 2.0 interface for a superb online experience.
In this respect, the LG G2 series stands in a class of its own. It comes loaded with a dual-core processor, rendering this as the most powerful Google TV presently available, with much faster navigation and reduced apps loading times. The LG G2 series is also one of the first to offer 3D-capable Google TV, using LG’s popular Cinema 3D passive glasses technology.
As expected, complementing LG’s G2 series is the much renowned and unique LG magic motion remote, which in the case of the G2 series is a flip-type remote with the magic motion remote on one side and a handy full QWERTY keyboard on the other; the TV remote on the G2 incorporates voice search as well.
Despite the presence of the QWERTY keyboard on the backside, it still feels comfortable in use. This LG remote is much more responsive, accurate and fun to use than other Google TV trackpads.
The Google TV interface on the LG G2 series comes with a heavily customized home screen that incorporates a 3D interface designed to give the user quick access to numerous apps and bookmarks.
LG Upper-tier LED TV Series
LG’s upper-tier series for 2012 comprises the LM6700 120Hz HDTVs, the LM7600 and LM8600 240Hz HDTVs, and the LM9600 480Hz flagship series.
These series are characterized by LG’s ‘Cinema Screen’ design instead of the ‘Slim and Narrow’ found on less expensive LG LED TVs. This is one of the best TV designs for 2012; main upgrade is an ultra-slim 5mm bezel coupled with a slimmer panel profile that is just 1.3-inch deep. Also unique is LG’s U-shaped table stand — or ribbon stand — as found on the G2 series; this incorporates a convenient swivel action and adds a sense of class to the overall TV design.
Another major upgrade is the use of an edge-lit LED backlight with local dimming, referred to by LG as LED plus. This is also the only picture quality feature that differentiates the less expensive LM6200 from LM6700 and LM7600 mid-range LG LED TV series, and that helps contribute to a super picture over the respective LG LED TV series.
The only exception to this is the flagship LM9600 series, which makes use of a full array with local dimming LED backlight technology for a better picture quality. At 1.5-inch deep, the LG flagship also comes at an astonishingly thin profile for a full array LED backlight.
But as expected, full array LED backlight technology comes at a heavy premium, one that is almost $900 more than LG’s LM8600 premium series. Mind you, at this price tag, the LG 55-inch LM9600 HDTV is still $300 cheaper than the Sony HX929 equivalent. The real problem with the LG flagship is that despite the impressive features and styling, the premium over the less expensive LG series fails to equate to what one gets extra in picture quality.
We did not carry a hands-on review of the LM9600 LG LED TVs but Cnet confirmed that the LG flagship delivers a disappointing picture that is not in line with its flagship standing. Cnet states that while color accuracy is spot on, black levels are significantly worse than those found on last year’s LG flagship; in addition, the LM9600 series suffers from blotchy uniformity and a shadow detail that lags behind other high-end sets.
One final difference between the rest of LG’s upper-tier series and the LM8600 and LM9600 HDTVs is the presence of a dual-core processor on the latter two LG LED TV series; however, as is the case with Samsung, Panasonic and Sony HDTVs, this helps mainly improve the Smart TV experience rather than the TV picture quality.
LM6700 and LM7600 Mid-range Series LG LED TVs
LM6700 and LM7600 LG LED TV series share the same features except for the use of TruMotion 240Hz dejudder technology on the LM7600. This also helps improve the LM7600 motion resolution over the disappointing 300 lines (for a 120Hz series) of LM6700 HDTVs, a motion performance that is no better than that of standard 60Hz HDTVs!
The reason for this lower motion resolution on the LM6700 is because of the way LG is flickering the LED backlight on the LM6700 to mitigate 120Hz refresh rate. LG said that the new firmware update released in July for the LM6700 should solve the issue with motion resolution; but while film judder is correctly eliminated, the new firmware does not lead to an improvement in motion resolution.
Both series come in 47 and 55-inch versions; price difference between these series is minimal and stands at $50 at the 47-inch and $100 at the 55-inch category. It is this minimal price difference that renders the LM7600 one that delivers the best HDTV option for overall value from within the 2012 LG lineup.
This explains why it is the 55-inch 55LM7600 the best selling LG LED TV at this category, and one of the best-selling HDTVs irrespective of brand. This is no surprise. At just $1,500, this LG LED TV is selling online at practically the same price as corresponding 55-inch plasma TVs, rendering these LG TVs significantly cheaper than equivalent Sony and Samsung LED TVs.
Competing models are at this price level are Sony’s KDL-55EX640 2D HDTV and the slightly more expensive Samsung UN55ES6500 3D TV. Most LCD TV review sites would down rate these LG HDTVs because of a picture quality that is characterized by relatively lighter blacks with respect to Samsung and Sony equivalents.
But we have a somewhat different opinion here…
While it is true that excellent deep blacks are not LG’s biggest picture quality attributes, objectively speaking, the LG LM7600 series is still capable of a solid overall TV picture. Though it fails to reach videophile grade quality, it definitely represents a great LED TV option for even the most demanding home entertainment use at this price bracket, delivering possibly the best value HDTV for your dollar.
Performance wise: The LM7600 has excellent accurate color and clean video processing. These LG LED TVs are capable of a good picture even with SD material, an area where most HDTVs fail. Motion handling is very good and in line with what one expects from a 240Hz HDTV. It can display 24p movie content with the correct cadence and is capable of de-interlacing 1080i film-based content correctly.
Picture quality in 3D is one of the best with practically zero crosstalk albeit the typical artifacts associated with passive 3D such as the presence of faint lines along the edges of bright content over a dark background and jagged lines due to the lower resolution of passive 3D systems. However, the 3D picture is sharp, bright and with a good impression of depth, while the LG 3D glasses are lightweight. The onboard 2D-to-3D converter is not so good but still usable, delivering a pleasing 3D image.
The main problem with LM7600 LG TVs is the slightly lighter black levels than most of the competition. While it is possible to get a darker shade of black on these LG TVs, doing so will however suppress subtle shadow detail. With side viewing, the lighter blacks on the LG deteriorates faster than on corresponding Samsung and Sony LED TVs. On the other hand, these LG LED TVs would preserve color even from a wider angle of view, doing better than most LED TVs at this price bracket.
The LG shiny screen is not as good as that found on last year’s LG LED TVs, failing to minimize reflections but it still preserves blacks under bright room conditions. Screen uniformity is better than what one would expect for an edge-lit LED TV.
The Bottom Line: Despite the somewhat lighter blacks, picture quality is still very good and would in our opinion satisfy all except the most demanding purists; the extensive user adjustable settings makes it relatively easy to get the best picture to one’s liking. Moreover, the LM7600 3D LG LED TV series represents an excellent piece of TV hardware with an impressive design, more than enough features complemented by LG’s unique motion remote, one of the best Smart TV suites, and six pairs of passive 3D glasses to cover all members of your family!
Best LG LED TVs for 2012
There is a lot to like about LG LED TVs if you want to make the most of your money. If 3D and Smart TV are not for you, the LG LS4600 series would portably suffice for many looking for a big screen at the cheapest price. Here, the LS4600 series with its 47-inch 47LS4600 and 55-inch 55LS4600 HDTVs selling at under $780 and $1,150 respectively, really delivers.
We think however that to enjoy the best LG has to offer, one has to move further up the LG lineup. As we have seen, it is the LM7600 mid-range series the one that delivers the best overall value at the higher end. It has a slightly better picture performance than the less expensive but equally valid LM6700 series, with a picture quality that is practically the same as that of the $200 more expensive LM8600 premium LG LED HDTVs. At $1,500 for the LG 55-inch 55LM7600, this represents one of the best 55-inch LED HDTV options at a cheaper price than most of the competition.
However… If you are on a tight budget and still want a feature-rich LED TV, the 55-inch LG 55LM6700 represents an interesting LED TV alternative that is some $200 cheaper than the LM7600 equivalent. As indicated earlier on, the LM6700 main drawback over the LM7600 LG LED TV series is its rather disappointing motion resolution for a 120Hz HDTV; however, you still get a solid picture with accurate colors, and almost all the features of the LM7600 — including 3D, and the more important Smart TV.