Review: LG 84LM9600 Ultra HD TV
Grant Clauser reviews LG's 84LM9600, the world's first Ultra HD 3D smart TV, saying the massive images look great and it produces the best 3D on TV.
Grant Clauser · November 30, 2012
This TV is kind of a big deal, and I don’t say that just because it’s six feet wide. The new LG 84LM9600 is the world’s first Ultra HD (formerly known as 4K) 3D smart TV.
Because production quantities are understandably low, and this is a pricy set, it was easier for me to go to the TV rather than for the TV to come to me. I spent several hours alone with the TV and my test gear at LG’s Chicago headquarters.
Ultra HD TVs have a resolution of at least eight million active pixels - 3,840 horizontally and 2,160 vertically in a 16:9 aspect ratio - which is exactly the resolution of this model (as well as the Sony model that is also just hitting the market).
This is LG’s flagship model, so it carries a price of $19,999, though retailers are selling it for a minimum advertised price of $16,999.
The 84LM9600 includes all of LG’s top TV features, including the smart TV platform, the gyroscope-like Magic Remote (with voice features), built-in Wi-Fi and a pretty good audio system. It also comes with a standard remote. It wears an attractive, fairly narrow bezel for a TV of this size and is only a hair over 1.5 inches thick. Sharp’s 80-inch 1080p TV models are more than three inches thick.
That slim depth is a result of LG going with an edge-lit design rather than a full-array LED design, which Sharp uses in its big TVs. Edge-lit LED TVs are thinner, but they can suffer from some light blooming and uniformity issues that don’t plague full-array models.
Like all LG 3D LCD TVs, this one uses passive 3D with polarized glasses (no battery or LCD lenses). The TV comes with six sets of 3D glasses.
The LG Ultra HD comes with a small, but very sturdy-looking table stand that permits it to swivel to either side. A swivel stand is unusual in the massive class of TVs, and this one swivels remarkably well - you’d hardly guess by how easily it moves that the TV weighs 150 pounds (Sharp’s 80- and 90-inch TVs actually weight just a bit less than this).
Another issue with edge-lit TVs is their inability to locally dim the LEDs nearly as well as full-array sets. LG and other companies do employ an edge-based local dimming technology, and I’ll discuss that a little later. Again, for comparison, the big Sharp TVs do not use local dimming, but the Sharp Elite brand TVs do. (Note: I use the Sharp 80- and 90-inch TVs as a reference only because they are the closest comparable in size. Being 1080p TVs, they are considerably cheaper, but also a different technology class).
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Big TVs are fun - who doesn’t love a TV that makes the neighbors’ jaw drop? But arranging a room around a TV this big raises particular issues, especially seating distance. Using the THX seating distance formula (diagonal screen size divided by .84) gives us an ideal seating distance of 8.3 feet. That might seem a bit close, especially if you’re using a 1080p TV, but with Ultra HD resolution, you can actually sit much closer (the THX calculator is for determining an immersive viewing field, and does not necessarily take screen resolution into account). Most living rooms will put a little more distance between the TV and the sofa, so I set myself up at 10 feet.
I started off digging into the TV’s menu and doing a basic calibration. The TV has a variety of pre-set video modes, including a Cinema mode that came very close to the final value after my own calibration. It also includes a feature called Picture Wizard II, which guides you through a set of images to help you properly set the TV to your preference. I’ve used it before, and it works well.
In addition to the basic controls, LG includes advanced features like Dynamic Contrast, Super Resolution, Color Gamut, MPEG Noise Reduction, Black Level, Dimming Level and TruMotion (a 240Hz refresh rate processor). This set also offers full ISF day/night modes. For some reason the advanced picture settings are divided into two menus: Expert Control and Picture Options. This can make finding the feature you want a little difficult.
After finalizing my settings, I ran through several Blu-ray discs of test patterns. On dark fields I could clearly see some light blooming around the edges from the edge-mounted LEDs. This was most noticeable on the lower right and top left corners. When a bright white element was added to the scene, I could see some light leakage affecting an area around the bright element - I was able to improve that by engaging the local dimming (which seemed to work best on Medium setting). I was told that the set had 16 dimming zones.
Light issues are prevalent on every LED LCD TV, especially edge-lit ones, which comprises most of the market. You don’t encounter this on plasma T Vs, but there are no 4K plasma TVs. Among other edge-lit TVs, the blacks on this set mostly looked pretty good. On real content material, the light bleeding was minimal and not enough to be a distraction unless you tend to be fanatical about that kind of thing.
I did see some slight uniformity issues which appeared as barely noticeable bands. The only time I saw this was during very bright scenes in the disc The Art of Flight. I’ve seen this issue before on TVs, and it seems to be associated with edge-lit LEDs. This was not a major issue, and if you weren’t looking for it, you’d probably miss it.
On other test patterns, like color, motion and deinterlacing, the TV performed very well.
Grant Clauser is a technology editor, covering home electronics for more than 10 years for such publications as Electronic House and Dealerscope. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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