LG 55LM6700 LED/LCD HDTV Reviewed

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LG 55LM6700 LED/LCD HDTV Reviewed

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LG_55LM6700_3D_LED_HDTV_review_art.jpgAlthough the LG buzz at CES focused primarily on the 55-inch OLED TV and 84-inch 4K HDTV, LG also introduced a ton of new LCD and plasma TVs. The vast majority of this year's LCDs utilize LED lighting, including the new LM6700 Series. This mid-level series uses the Edge LED Plus lighting system that places the LEDs around the edge of the TV and employs local dimming to more precisely tailor the screen brightness to the content being displayed. The LM6700 Series also features passive 3D capability with six pairs of glasses, ISF calibration, TruMotion 120Hz technology, the Smart TV Web platform with built-in WiFi, DLNA media streaming, the motion-controlled Magic Remote, and the attractive new Cinema Screen design. It lacks the Full LED backlighting, 240Hz (or higher) processing, THX certification, and voice recognition that you'll find in higher-end series like the LM8600 and LM9600. The LM6700 Series includes screen sizes of 47 and 55 inches; the 55-inch 55LM6700 that we reviewed carries an MSRP of $2,299.99.

Additional Resources
• Read more 3D HDTV reviews by HometTheaterReview.com's staff.
• See similar products in our LED HDTV Review section.
• Explore AV Receivers and Blu-ray Players to pair with the LG 55LM6700.

Setup and Features
LG's new Cinema Screen design includes a single-pane front face with no raised bezel and only about 5mm of black border around the screen's perimeter. The cabinet sports a brushed silver border, with a matching, swiveling, L-shaped stand. The 55LM6700's depth is about 1.3 inches, except along the bottom where the two down-firing speakers add another half inch or so. The TV weighs about 47 pounds without the stand.

The Magic Remote allows you to navigate the TV's menu system using an onscreen pointer that you control by waving the remote, a la the Nintendo Wii system; higher-end models incorporate a new voice-control element that is not offered here. The Magic Remote also has a few physical buttons, including a scroll wheel and navigation arrows that allow you to move through the menus without motion control, if you prefer.

The 55LM6700's input panel includes four HDMI, one component and one composite (both use a mini-jack with a supplied breakout cable), one PC, and one RF input to access the internal ATSC and Clear-QAM tuners. All four HDMI inputs are side-facing for easy access, as are the three USB ports that support media playback. An Ethernet port is available if you prefer a wired network connection to the built-in 802.11n WiFi module.

LG_55LM6700_3D_LED_HDTV_review_profile.jpgFor a mid-level TV, the 55LM6700 offers a nice assortment of picture adjustments, including ISF calibration tools with two Expert picture modes. The Cinema picture mode provides a good base from which to make further adjustments, but I ultimately went with the Expert modes--calibrating one for daytime viewing and one for nighttime viewing. Advanced adjustments include: 2-point and 20-point white-balance controls; individual color management of all six color points; Super Resolution; five color gamuts; three gamma presets; noise reduction; and more. You can manually adjust the TV's light output through the 100-step backlight control, or you can enable automatic backlight adjustment based on room lighting (through the Energy Saving settings). LG's Picture Wizard II is available to walk you through an automatic calibration procedure that produces solid results. Of course, I went with a manual calibration using test patterns, but Picture Wizard is a nice tool for the novice to create a better-looking image. Interestingly, the menu lacks TruMotion 120Hz adjustments, such as the ability to turn the function on/off and select a standard/smooth mode for judder reduction. The TV has six aspect-ratio options, including a Just Scan mode to display 1080i/1080p images with no overscan. In the 3D realm, you get a whole new set of picture modes to work with and have access to all of the same adjustments I just listed. Plus, you can manually adjust the 3D depth and viewpoint and swap the left/right images. You can enable 2D-to-3D conversion and select from several preset 3D modes (Standard, Sport, Cinema and Extreme).

The benefit of local dimming in an LED-based TV is that it allows the different LED zones to adjust their brightness independently of one another to suit the content on the screen. Bright areas of the screen can remain bright, while darker areas can have deeper blacks. The one potential drawback is that, the fewer LED zones there are, the less precise the effect is, which can result in a glow around bright objects. For instance, if you're looking at an image of a bright moon in a dark sky, you'll potentially see brightness bleeding into the dark areas around the moon, creating the glowing effect. To address this, LG includes four options for its LED local dimming: Off, Low, Medium, and High. The Low/Medium/High settings let you tweak the "aggressiveness"; by design, the Low setting won't produce as deep a black but will minimize the glow effect, while the High setting produces the deepest black and the most glow (we'll discuss actual performance in the next section). Turn off the LED local dimming, and the lighting system will behave like that of an always-on backlight (i.e., the black level is nowhere near as good).

The audio setup menu includes seven sound modes, with a User setting that includes a five-band equalizer. A virtual surround mode is available, as is a generic Auto Volume function to minimize volume discrepancies. LG's Clear Voice II function brings up the level of vocals to make them easier to hear, while Sound Optimizer adjusts the output based on the TV's placement on a wall or stand. The speakers have above-average dynamic ability for TV speakers, and the sound quality isn't as thin and nasally as you often get, although it doesn't have much meat to it.

In regards to LG's Smart TV service, this model lacks the new dual-core processors that you'll find in the step-up LM8600 and LM9600, which allow for multi-tasking (or the ability to have multiple apps open at the same time). This year's Smart TV interface is customizable, with an Edit tool that lets you rearrange apps. The Smart TV Home Page shows the primary source in a small window in the upper left portion of the screen; I personally would prefer a larger source window. In the center of the screen, you'll find the list of Premium apps, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, VUDU, CinemaNow, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. On the right is the new 3D World service that lets you choose from an assortment of 3D clips. Scroll over to page two of the Smart TV interface, and you'll find the LG Smart World menu that contains all of your free/purchased apps, as well as the Smart Share menu where you can browse content from a connected USB device or connected computer/server. The 55LM6700 has 128 megabytes on onboard memory to download new apps; once the memory is full, you must either delete apps or save them to a USB drive. As for media streaming from a computer, LG supports DLNA and the PLEX system that requires you to add PLEX software to your computer. PLEX now offers Mac-compatible software, so I was able to test this function; I found the PLEX system to be very easy to set up on my Mac, and the streaming function worked reliably. The 55LM6700 has a Web browser that now supports Flash and HTML 5, and the new WiFi Screen Share function lets you share content between the TV and a mobile device directly over WiFi, without the need for a router (I did not have a compatible device to test this function). LG's Smart Search will search across the various Smart TV services to find content; for instance, I typed in "Winnie the Pooh" and it searched the different streaming VOD services, the Web in general, and my connected USB/DLNA devices to find matching content.

Finally, the 55LM6700 sports a new feature called Dual Play for gamers. When you aren't using the 3D technology to watch 3D content, you can use it to view a full-screen 2D image while playing a split-screen video game. This function requires special glasses (AG-F310DP) that direct a different full-screen image to each player.

I began my tests as I usually do--by evaluating the TV's black level, brightness, and contrast. At the minimum backlight setting, the 55LM6700's black level is incredibly deep--too bad the picture is also unwatchably dim for film content. Regardless of which LED setting you choose, the local dimming doesn't appear to be very aggressive in making bright areas bright when the black level is low, so you have to decide how much brightness you want versus how much black level you're willing to sacrifice. For movie watching in a dark room, I found that a backlight setting of about 30 (out of 100) struck a solid balance between the two elements.

Read more about the performance of the LG 55LM6700 on Page 2.

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