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LG 47LM860V review

TV & AVReviews
8/10
, 23 Aug 2012Reviews
LG 47LM860V review

Having just unveiled the world’s largest 4K TV in Korea, LG has one eye firmly on the future of HD. But for now the world’s second-biggest selling TV manufacturer (behind arch rival Samsung) has an enviable range of 3D-ready hi-def sets on offer, including this 47in edge LED effort with passive 3D technology.

At £1,600, the 47LM860V isn’t cheap, but like all its premium sets it’s absolutely bursting with features, from smart networking functionality to high-powered picture processing. It’s one step down from the range-topping 47LM960V (which uses direct LED backlighting).

What’s more, because it uses the passive 3D system you don’t have to add the price of glasses on top – you get seven pairs in the box (four regular, two 'Dual Play' and two clip-on).

Design and connections

The 47LM860V is absolutely gorgeous. Its Cinema Screen design features an extremely narrow 10.5mm bezel, which allows the picture to extend almost to the very edges, and when turned off it doesn’t look like there’s a bezel at all – all that’s visible is a 1mm silver strip on the very outer edge. This is nicely complemented by a luxurious glossy silver panel below the screen.

The set feels sturdy and surprisingly heavy, plus at 33mm it’s incredibly slim (apart from a bulky bit on the back that houses the speakers). It all sits on a shiny two-pronged ‘Floating Metal Wing’ stand that indeed gives the impression that the screen is suspended in mid-air – very cool, very futuristic.

Connections are plentiful. You get four HDMI inputs, three USB ports for media playback and external HDD recording, Scart, composite and component inputs (using the supplied adapters), RGB PC input and an optical digital audio output. Ethernet is supplied as an alternative to the built-in Wi-Fi, while the CI slot lets you add pay TV channels.  

The HDMIs, USBs and CI slot are sensibly placed up the side, while the rest are downward facing. On the opposite side is a row of small buttons for up-close control.

Features

LG goes all out on connected functionality, offering DLNA media streaming, internet content and other tricks like Wi-Fi Direct and WiDi – all made possible by the built-in Wi-Fi connection.

Let’s start with the Internet content, dubbed Smart TV. LG splits it into two sections – Premium and LG Smart World. In Premium you’ll find all the good stuff like BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and several movie rental services – LoveFilm, Netflix, KnowHow, Blinkbox and Acetrax Movies. It’s a pleasing selection, though we’d like to see more free video services like Demand 5 and Sky News.

In LG Smart World you’ll find a vast array of games, puzzles and other niche services to download like OK Magazine, The Broadway Channel and NHLPA Players’ Playbook. Most of this stuff I’ve never heard of and probably wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot barge pole, but you might find something here worth checking out.

These are joined by LG’s 3D World service, which provides a combination of free and paid-for 3D content. You’ll probably want to seek out your own 3D content but these clips provide a quick and easy way of showing off the set’s stereoscopic capabilities. The content ranges from the high-profile (John Carter) to the downright wacky (Wonderful Bubbles in 3D).

The DLNA functionality is dubbed Smart Share and allows you to play music, video and photos from servers on your network (PCs, Macs, NAS drives). I tried it out and not only did it find my laptop immediately, it streamed my entire gamut of files without any fuss – including DivX HD, hi-def WMV, AVI and MKV files, AVCHD, XviD and JPEG.

If you struggle streaming on a network you can play them from USB devices connected to any of the three ports. And with an external hard-disk drive connected you can record programmes from the built-in Freeview HD tuner, although the presence of a single tuner means you can only record what you’re watching.

The 47LM860V also offers 2D-to-3D conversion, and with the more comfortable passive system you might be more inclined to give this a whirl with regular TV content – but if you have Sky 3D you’re laughing. There’s also a Dual Play feature for gaming, which allows two people to view a two player game at the same time on the same screen using the supplied glasses.

And the features just keep on coming. If you feel shackled Smart TV’s content there’s an internet browser that lets you visit any site, although it’s sluggish to use and you can’t watch Flash videos.

The 47LM860V uses a dual core processor to speed up operation and aims to avoid motion blur using LG’s MCI 800, which effectively ups the refresh rate to 800Hz. The LED Plus panel with Micro Pixel control differs from the Nano Full LED technology used by the step-up 960V series.

The LG is even equipped with Mobile High-Definition Link, which lets you view 1080p video from smartphones and tablets through the HDMI connection.

Finally, the set comes equipped with a vast range of picture calibration settings, earning it the approval of the Imaging Science Foundation, the authority on achieving the optimum picture quality.

That means it has everything an ISF engineer would need to calibrate the set properly. So aside from the usual backlight, contrast, brightness and colour settings in the Picture menu, you get an ‘Expert Control’ section with more detailed tweaks like gamma, white balance and a colour management system, as well as two ISF presets (one for night viewing, one for day). These are joined by five other presets.

Additionally, in the Picture Option menu are all the processing-related settings, such as noise reduction, LED local dimming and TruMotion (Smooth, Clear, Clear Plus and User). Elsewhere there’s an unusually detailed range of 3D settings that let you make 3D pictures as comfortable and effective as possible.

Operation

The 47LM960V comes with two remotes – a regular version much like any other, and a Magic Remote that follows your movements and points at things on screen much like a PC mouse. Sadly my Magic remote was missing from the box but from past experience it’s is a godsend, greatly simplifying navigation – particularly when using the web browser or smart services. The regular remote is also excellent, boasting an efficient, intuitive layout and clear labelling.

The Home dashboard is one of the most visually sophisticated GUIs I’ve encountered. It’s displayed in crisp, colourful graphics with an friendly layout, making it easy to visit any of the set’s features.

Initially there are three blocks, one on the left playing live TV in a box with an advert below, and two more offering LG’s Smart TV and 3D World content. Scroll right and more blocks appear (Smart World, Game World and Smart Share). Each block contains full colour icons and clever little animations. It’s truly gorgeous.

Meanwhile at the bottom of the screen is My Apps, another menu that contains all the other stuff like Settings, Live/Recorded TV, EPG, input list and so on. It’s a confusing name though, as it contains much more than just online apps.

In fact this leads us onto a minor gripe with the GUI. As stunning as it looks, it’s hard to shake the feeling that LG has gone a bit OTT. The interface is so elaborate that you can get lost among its many options, particularly when there are several ways of accessing the same feature (smart content, for instance). The Home menu repeats stuff found in the My Apps menu, which is confused further by a separate Quick Menu – and each of these menus has its own button on the remote. A little consolidation wouldn’t go amiss in future, but that aside it looks fabulous and it’s very fast in operation.

As for the EPG, there’s nothing majorly wrong with it, but doesn’t match the sophistication of the other onscreen menus. There’s no live TV box and it covers up what you’re watching. But the cursor responds quickly and provides a detailed info box when you select a programme.

The My Apps menu can be called up at any time using the dedicated button on the remote, popping up at the bottom of the screen. The Info button brings up programme details while watching Freeview, helpfully allowing you to browse any channel up to seven days ahead without entering the full EPG.

Finally the expanded Smart TV menus continue the dazzling visual approach, placing icons in front of full colour backgrounds, which lends an extra dimension of fun and sophistication.

Performance

After rigging up and tweaking the 47LM860V, then flipping to the built-in Freeview tuner, I was instantly gobsmacked by its remarkably bright and vibrant pictures. Hi-def channels show off the set’s abilities to the full – BBC HD’s preview clips look beautifully detailed and emphatically defined, with deep, pure colours covering the screen from corner to corner.

A clip of Deadly 60 showing a bear catching salmon is imbued with gorgeous textures, like the bear’s fur and the ripples in the flowing river. Strands of grass and rocks on the river banks are clearly visible and it even discerns the fleece pattern on Steve Backshall’s jacket.

So its detail handling credentials are impeccable then, but that’s nothing if it falls apart when objects start to move. Thankfully that’s not the case thanks to TruMotion’s sterling efforts, which keeps detail steady and focused during fast-moving sports broadcasts, provided you choose the Clear setting and avoid cranking the level up too high (which can result in an unnatural or artefact-riddled picture).

These qualities are augmented when fed with a cleaner signal from a Blu-ray deck. Detail screams from the screen, while those bold, dynamic yet natural colours make movie viewing a real joy.

What’s more, the excellent contrast and deep blacks ensure that the picture looks solid and punchy. It’s fairly easy to see what’s going on during dark scenes, although it’s not quite as emphatic in the dark as the Sony KDL-46HX853 due to some backlight inconsistency and crushing of detail.

Passive 3D pictures have obvious shortcomings compared with the active system, stemming from the fact that the image resolution is halved. But that doesn’t stop the 47LM860V from delivering a completely absorbing 3D experience.

The images remain bright and colourful through the glasses, there’s no crosstalk or flicker, and because the images are easier on the eyes you don’t feel compelled to remove the eyewear every few seconds – helped by the fact that the glasses themselves are light and comfy to wear.

Sure, the picture is clearly less detailed than an active 3D set, plus you can make out line structures and jaggies on curved objects, but despite this everything still looks reasonably sharp and well defined, with superb colour reproduction and believable layering. This set underlines why passive sets are such a great way of watching 3D – you still get the wow factor but it’s much more comfortable and cost effective.

If there’s an Achilles' heel, it’s SD Freeview pictures – the set’s inability to mask the side-effects of the compressed broadcasts (mosquito and block noise) results in rather grubby, shimmery pictures, although colours look remarkably bold.

Sound

Most LED TVs fall short when it comes to sonics, but the LG’s 2 x 10W speakers actually deliver a louder and more fulsome sound than we’ve come to expect. TV theme tunes emphasise this fact, blasting into the room with a reasonable amount of bass. Movies soundtracks also sound deeper and punchier than usual, backed up by clear speech and robust high frequencies. We’d never recommend settling for TV speakers, but if you can’t stretch to a separate sound system then at least this set won’t put you to shame completely.

Verdict

The LG 47LM860V is an impressive LED TV in most departments. Not only is it packed with features, including a fantastic range of web content and network functionality, but it’s also a top-drawer performer in most respects and looks absolutely gorgeous. And if you see a slicker, better looking GUI this year I’ll eat my hat.

On the downside, its edge LED backlighting is nowhere near convincing as that of the Sony KDL-46HX853 and SD Freeview is a bit ropey, but in all other respects, the 47LM860V is a terrific purchase.

Manufacturer and model

LG 47LM860V

Screen size (inches)

47

Resolution

1,920 x 1,080

Backlight technology

Edge LED

Picture engine

Triple XD Engine

Digital tuner

Freeview HD

3D ready

Yes

3D technology

Passive

3D glasses supplied

Yes (7 pairs)

2D-to-3D conversion

Yes

Wi-Fi

Yes (built-in)

Online content

LG Smart TV

DLNA streaming

Yes

Smartphone control

Yes

Contrast ratio

Not given

Brightness

Not given

Refresh rate

MCI 800 (800Hz)

Speaker power

20W (2 x 10W)

Energy efficiency class

A

Dimensions (with stand, W x H x D)

1,063 x 701 x 302mm

Dimensions (without stand, W x H x D)

1,063 x 628 x 33.4mm

HDMI

4

Component

1

Composite

1

Scart

1

Digital audio output

1 (optical)

PC input

1

USB

3

SD card slot

No

Ethernet

Yes

CI slot

Yes

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