Test Report: LG 47LW5600 3D LCD HDTV Page 2

SETUP

As with other recent LG TVs, the 47LW5600 gives you tons of tweaking options. Its list of presets includes ISF Expert 1 and 2 modes that offer advanced features like variable gamma, selectable Color Gamut, both 2- and 10-point color temperature adjustments, and a comprehensive color management system. There are also multiple presets for the TV’s LED Local Dimming feature, which modulates the output of its edge-lit LED array according to brightness levels in the picture to boost contrast. The TruMotion feature, which can help improve motion resolution on fast-action content like sports or movies, also gets Low, High, and User settings, with that last one giving you the option to independently adjust the level of judder and blur reduction.

For my setup, I made adjustments for both day and night viewing in the ISF Expert modes. (These can be configured separately for each of the TV’s inputs.) Other settings I selected in that mode included BT709 Color Gamut and 2.2 Gamma. I also set LED Local Dimming to High. All auto settings (Intelligent Sensor, Dynamic Contrast, Energy Saving, etc.) were switched off along with TruMotion, which I turned on only for evaluation purposes.

The TV automatically detects an incoming Blu-ray 3D signal and displays a dialog box telling you to either put on your glasses or choose to have the TV convert the signal for 2D viewing. With 3D programs from cable or satellite, you first need to press a button labeled 3D on the remote control and then select either the side-by-side or top-bottom format from an onscreen window. While viewing, a 3D option menu lets you change orientation (picture correction) and adjust viewpoint in 20 steps. You also get the option to make a full range of picture tweaks, including Expert mode adjustments, while in 3D mode. The TV can also convert 2D signals for 3D display.

PERFORMANCE

The last LG edge-lit LED set I tested had issues with backlight uniformity in dark scenes, so I was curious to see if the company had improved things this time around. Watching 2.35:1 aspect ratio movies with really dark, noirish images — Dark City, for example — on the 47LW5600, I saw several instances of “spotlights” in the screen’s upper corners and sides, although they weren’t as noticeable as on that previous set. When I turned next to a less dark (visually, at least) Blu-ray movie like Fair Game, shadows looked fairly deep, and backlight unevenness only reared up in a few shots, such as one where streetlights pop in and out of the rear window as Joe Wilson (Sean Penn) and Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) take a nighttime drive.

The LG’s color reproduction was impressive. With the BT709 color gamut mode selected, greens looked slightly yellowish, but I was able to adequately adjust for this using the color management system controls in the Expert menu. Afterward, the set accurately rendered colors in all manner of scenes, from a fluorescent-lit CIA office to a bustling Cairo market to the desert terrain outside an African village. And in shots with brightly colored objects like the red stripes in an American flag or the green grass of the Wilson/Plame family’s picture-perfect suburban home, no colors popped out unduly.

LG promotes its passive 3D tech as being less complicated, more comfortable, and more family-friendly than active 3D. To test that, I unboxed three sets of glasses (Cinema 3D TVs come with four sets) and settled in with my kids to watch Tangled on Blu-ray 3D. Being able to hand out glasses and not having to worry about charging them or turning them on was a definite plus. As for the family-friendly angle, getting multiple pairs of glasses for free was a big benefit.

About 20 minutes into Tangled, however, I ran into trouble: My 5-year-old ended up fiddling with the relatively flimsy glasses and yanked a lens out. If they had been expensive active-shutter models, I would have been annoyed (and out 100 bucks!). But since passive glasses are cheap and plentiful, I could simply hand her another pair.

Outside of Avatar, Disney’s Tangled is one of the best examples of 3D on Blu-ray I’ve seen. (For my full review, see page 82.) On the LG, foliage in the forests and glades surrounding Rapunzel’s tower had a distinct sense of layering and detail that helped to bring the environment to life. Another disc I watched, Imax Deep Sea 3D, served up a more dramatic depiction of 3D space, one that had my kids literally jumping up to “swim” in the underwater image. (And then run back to the couch squealing in horror when an octopus or squid bounded into the frame.) In both of these discs, and on several other 3D Blu-rays I watched, there were no instances of crosstalk in the picture.

While the LG’s 3D picture looked bright and punchy — substantially more so than other 3D TVs I’ve tested — a distinct “scan line” texture introduced by the panel’s Film Patterned Retarder was evident in 3D mode. It wasn’t much of an issue at a 10-foot seating distance. But at 6 to 7 feet — an optimal viewing span for a 1080p-rez TV this size, and one that allows you to experience an immersive effect with 3D images — I noticed shots, like one in Tangled where Rapunzel pushes a green chair against a door, where “aliasing” caused by the FPR made diagonal lines look jagged. On the plus side, the LG’s picture retained its strong 3D effect, along with uniform picture brightness and contrast, over a very wide viewing angle. There basically isn’t a bad seat in the house when watching with this TV.

BOTTOM LINE

LG helps make 3D go down smoothly with its LW5600 Series TVs. A bright, crosstalk free picture, excellent off-axis performance, and cheap, easily replaced glasses mean that this is a 3D set a whole family can enjoy. LG’s passive tech does have a downside, though, and in this case that translates to a 3D picture with a scan line texture when viewed at an optimal seating distance. The LG’s less-than-perfect handling of dark content, particularly movies with letterbox bars, also stops me from giving it an unequivocal recommendation. But if you’re looking for an affordable TV that delivers 3D without locking your head in a vise, LG’s LW5600 series sets fit the bill nicely.

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