LG 55LW5600 3D LCD HDTV Page 3
The LG also impressed me immediately with its crisp, natural detail. Baraka looked as stunning as ever. The Ten Commandments was sharper than any 1956 film has any right to be (not to mention its brilliant colors). Even Predators drew me in with its gorgeous transfer—though not with its tortured re-imagining of The Most Dangerous Game.
The monkey wrench in the gears is the set’s nonuniform back—or rather edge—lighting. It’s visible as patchy areas of lighter gray, most obvious near the sides and corners of the screen.
But whether, or even if, you notice it at all will depend on the displayed image and the room lighting. With a fullblack screen in a darkened room, it’s often subtle. With a bright image filling the entire screen, you won’t see it at all. But with a bright object at the center, surrounded by black that fills the rest of the screen (or sometimes with letterbox or side bars), it can be distracting. The title screen from
Baraka is an extreme example of this. Another prominent offending scene is Despicable Me’s bright red title against a black background.
What appears to be happening is that some images can unmask the weaknesses of the set’s limited-zone, edge-lit local dimming or the firmware that controls it. Unfortunately, turning it off is no solution—without it, the set’s black level and shadow detail are dismal. You’ll definitely want to leave LED Local Dimming turned on, as I did.
Edge-lighting issues aside, I rarely saw any pumping from the LED Local Dimming feature, and when I thought I did, it was too subtle to be an issue. The LG’s black level and shadow detail were good (again, with local dimming activated), even if they weren’t standard-setting. The dark scenes on Predators were believable, with good contrast and snap. The opening scenes of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World were also convincingly free of grayish blacks.
High, Wide, and Deep
The LG automatically locks onto the most common 3D mode (frame packing, used on Blu-ray 3D). It provides manual selection for other possible 3D modes (including side-by-side, used on 3D broadcasts). There’s also a 2D-to-3D conversion mode. Its effect is visible but marginal, and like all such modes we’ve seen, it’s no substitute for the real thing.
The Home button on the remote control doesn’t call up the video (or audio) adjustments in 3D. Instead, these are available through the Q.Menu (also labeled 3D Option).
In most respects, the LG’s 3D performance is exceptional. The uncalibrated 3D color in the Warm Color Temperature setting was slightly reddish, but a good calibration (see HT Labs Measures) put this right. I only used the two-point calibration controls for 3D and didn’t dive into the CMS (the 10-point menu and the CMS remain accessible in 3D). Still, the measured Color Tracking and color gamut were excellent, as was the subjective color.
From Jake Sully’s facial whiskers in the early scenes in Avatar to the astonishing feathers in Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, no details appeared to be missing in the LG’s 3D presentation from my viewing position roughly 10 feet from the set. Whatever the technical issues or controversies might be on the resolution limitations with passive-glasses 3D (see “Eye to Eye”), my guess is that the total lack of 3D ghosting, combined with the LG’s bright 3D picture, gets the job done.
The passive glasses are as light and nonfatiguing as advertised. You can tilt your head as much as you like (or even lie down) and see no change in the image brightness or colors—or in the 3D effect. And the set’s off-axis performance (in 3D and 2D) is astonishingly good for an LCD. The image quality holds up well to beyond 45 degrees and more, and so does the 3D.
The LG’s black level and shadow detail in 3D were comparable to 2D—which is to say, they were good overall with the exception of the edge brightness uniformity I discussed earlier. As with 2D, you must use LED Local Dimming to get acceptable blacks.
When I reviewed the passive-glasses VIZIO last month, I noted two problems. The first was the presence of visible, closely spaced horizontal lines from the top to the bottom of the 3D image, lines that disappeared only at increased viewing distances. The second was an annoying, motion-induced red smear that appeared rarely when I viewed 2D but more frequently in 3D. In the aftermath of that review, it remained to be determined if this unusual smearing was endemic to all passive displays or particular to the VIZIO.
I can report now that the red smear was totally absent from the LG. The horizontal lines, which separate the left- and right-eye image information, were still there, but I found them much less distracting than before. This may well be due to the LG’s considerably smaller screen (55 inches versus the VIZIO’s 65 inches). From my viewing distance, I could see the lines if I looked for them, particularly on lettering in menus, titles, and credits. But on most material, I could ignore them for the most part.
The LG 55LW5600 came very close to earning a Home Theater Top Pick recommendation. I went back and forth more than once on the single issue that troubled me: the nonuniform brightness at the sides of the screen. Ultimately, I must come down on the side of caution. If the problem gives me pause, and it does, it’s also likely to trouble more than a few critical videophiles.
Nevertheless, there’s a terrific set here waiting to get out. With its superb adjustability, great color, respectable black level, and strikingly vivid 3D, the LG 55LW5600 is only a single step removed from irresistible.