LG 55LM960V LED-backlit LCD TV review

4 out of 5
£2600

For

Great passive 3D, screen-dominant design, powerful sound output

Against

It’s pricey, less impressive with black level compared to competitors, sluggish downloadable apps despite dual core specification

LG’s top-tier LCD TV, the extra large 55-inch version of the LM960V series in this case, has a dual-core processor and passive 3D system to add to its headline Nano LED-backlight technology. But can it cut the mustard when considering the likes of Sony’s latest HX853-series?

Design

The 55LM960V is a whopper of a TV. The box it was delivered in was huge and cumbersome – a trait that the TV itself avoids, despite its 45kg weight.

Like all the best TV designs it’s the 55LM960V’s screen that’s left to dominate. The flat panel is surrounded by a 13mm-deep silver-like bezel that protrudes a mere 3mm over the screen. The bottom banner is a touch more, at 15mm, but it’s still small and barely noticeable when watching the screen. This is one good-looking telly.

The two-pronged, fork-like stand is equally subtle and unobtrusive; indeed it carries forth the same elegant finish as the rest of the TV. From the outside there’s not a hint of overdesign here, unlike some other manufacturers.

Beyond the main set itself LG has delivered not one but two controllers: there’s the standard remote, but also what the company calls a "magic remote" with voice recognition.

The magic remote works like a bit like a Nintendo Wii controller - ie. pointing it at the screen will move a pointer around. May sound rather pointless, but it does help speed up access to different apps and typing (well, more pointing and clicking). But voice recognition? Pull the other one. Samsung’s S Voice and Apple’s Siri have been the brunt of enough jokes of late and we don’t think telling your TV what to do has a lot of life to it.

Picture

Can the external elegance be replicated on screen? The LM960V isn’t short of features that promise the utmost in picture quality.

There’s a dual core processor to produce what LG describes as "lifelike, detailed pictures", while the Nano LED backlight array is designed in conjunction with the MCI 1000Hz (Motion Clarity Index) to produce a smooth, locally dimmed image with richer blacks and more vibrant subjects.

Results are good, but they’re not the £2600 asking price kind of good. That’s a full grand - yup, an extra £1000 - more than the Sony Bravia KDL-55HX835. Ouch.

The LG’s black level is good enough, though not as outstanding as the price tag might suggest. In black-only scenes, such as simple logo screens before a main movie, there can be a lack of uniformity.

There’s plenty of contrast and colours are bright and punchy, though playback is dependent on the handful of picture modes. Intelligent mode will auto-adjust the set depending on surroundings for the best picture, while there are other options for vivid, cinematic and others, including two ISF settings for expert control.

Open up either of these latter two options - there are two so it’s possible to program one for bright, daytime viewing and the other for dark, night time viewing - and it’s possible to calibrate black level, colour temperature, LED local dimming amount, red/green tints and much more for a pro-looking picture.

This is when results can be taken up a notch, although we have to admit that the intelligent mode does a fine job of adjusting the screen.

3D paves the way

But it’s 3D where the LG 55LM960V really excels. The fact it comes bundled with seven pairs of glasses is more than a small hint that LG is trying to push the third dimension.

So we best get this off our chest now: we don’t really care for 3D. Not at all in fact. It doesn’t work for everyone, or, if you’re Marc Kermode, it’ll make you downright angry.

But LG has shown that the passive 3D system can work a treat - the LM960V proves that. It’s far easier on the eye rather than the active shutter 3D, and this particular LG TV doesn’t suffer from any irritating cross-talk. Images are smooth thanks to the processing and, all things considered, we’d opt for this type of 3D over the competition.

Where things are a bit ropey, however, is with the 2D to 3D conversion. Activated - and then probably quickly deactivated - at the click of a button, this system has its heart in the right place, but 2D converted into 3D on the fly looks, well, wrong. 2010’s Clash of the Titans proved that in a single, sweeping blow.

Connectivity

Built-in Wi-Fi joins four HDMI 1.4 ports and a triplet of USB ports. As with any smart TV the LG LM960V is all about connectivity, browsing and apps.

The "My Apps" button on the controller pulls up a bottom bar that protrudes over the image. It quickly disappears if it was pressed by mistake, otherwise it’s an easy way to gain access to all the most common settings.

Apps such as Lovefilm, Netflix and BBC iPlayer will all prove popular, though there are plenty of others that can be downloaded too.

These include games that, on the whole, seem rather ill-responsive and not much fun to play. Minigate’s Angry Duckling - an apparent play on words of the better known and, indeed, far superior Angry Birds - was a pain to play with the magic controller. We certainly weren’t feeling the magic, furthered by the stutters and jumps that shouldn’t be present given the LG LM960V’s dual-core processor. Still, you can’t have it all and, at the end of the day, a TV is more about playback than two-bit gaming.

Otherwise navigating the menus with the magic controller is a quick and easy experience.

Both Plex and DLNA support also means it’s possible to source video files from your personal computer, or connected NAS drives if you have such a personal home network set up. File formats are compatible aplenty: MKV and AVI proved no problem.

Beefy sound

The LM960V’s built-in speaker set up is heavyweight when it comes to outing the audio. It surrounds the room more than the Sony HX853 series, and it’s far bassier and boomier than the Panasonic WT50 series.

For some it may be almost too bass-heavy. It serves plenty of clout when watching movies and the like - indeed Christain Bale’s Batman voice was teetering rather close to a brown noise-inducing experience.

Like the variety of picture presets there are also audio presets. Whether standard, cinema, or a different setup takes your fancy - the EQ presets will shift to suit different means.

Verdict

There’s a lot to like about the LG 55LM960V. It’s a good-looking product with a dominating screen, passive 3D works really well, and the sound is bold and booming.

But for £2600 it’s a lot of money to ask. We’d have expected a deeper black level and better overall picture for that kind of money - though that’s not to say these are bad by any stretch of the word.

On the gaming front our experiences were absolutely fine, even if LG is known for greater input lag than its nearest competitors - but we’re talking milliseconds here, something that, to our eyes, isn’t a notable worry.

However the downloadable game apps available for the telly are often sluggish to respond and therefore aren't a very fun experience, which doesn’t bode well for the 960V’s dual core processing power.

Overall this is a grand telly that’ll look stonking in any room; it has a good picture, but the price tag is pushing it for what’s on offer.