When we first found out about LG’s ‘Nano’ TV series at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show way back in January 2011, there was no doubt in our mind about its main attraction: direct LED lighting.
This system involves illuminating LCD TV screens with clusters of LED lights positioned directly behind the screen rather than the more common approach of using LEDs ranged around the edges of the screen. Add to this configuration as the 55LW980T does local dimming, where the clusters of LEDs can have their luminance levels individually controlled, and experience has shown that you’ve got a potential recipe for serious picture quality success.
It's one fine-looking TV
So intrigued were we by the idea of an ultra slim direct LED TV, in fact, that the Nano sets’ 3D capabilities rather passed us by. Especially when we learned that the Nano sets were going to have tried and tested active 3D technology rather than the controversial new LG passive 3D system employed on all of LG’s other LCD TVs.
As the year progressed, though, and LG’s attempts to position passive 3D as the superior 3D option became almost scarily aggressive, the decision to use active 3D on the Nano sets started to look increasingly awkward, potentially undermining the brand’s entire 3D marketing thrust. So it was no great shock when LG ultimately decided to shift to passive 3D for the Nano sets.
And when we found out, we couldn’t help feeling a bit disappointed, feeling that the decision could have robbed us of what had the potential to be one of the most all-round desirable TVs of this generation.
Here’s the thing, though: We were wrong. For LG’s decision to make the 55in 55LW980T a passive 3D TV has turned out to be a masterstroke. Far from exposing passive 3D’s potential weaknesses as feared, applying it to such a high quality core TV as the 55LW980T has actually underlined passive 3D’s strengths.
We’ll get into detail on why this is so later. But for now it’s high time we hit our usual review stride. Starting with the fact that the 55in 55LW980T Nano set is one darned attractive TV. From its single-layer fascia to its trim bezel and slim rear, it oozes high-end class and build quality.
It has all the connections that matter too, including four v1.4 HDMIs, two USBs, plus built-in Wi-Fi. The USBs can be used to record from the built-in Freeview HD tuner or for playing back a pretty expansive suite of photo, video and music multimedia file formats.
The Wi-Fi (or a LAN) adds file-streaming from DLNA PCs to the TV’s capabilities, as well as access to LG’s increasingly admirable Smart TV service. We did a recent update of the content now carried by LG’s online TV platform in our review of the LG 50PZ950, so we won’t go into the same level of detail again here. Suffice it to say that as well as a startling number of relatively basic information and gaming ‘apps’, there’s now a considerable amount of our preferred video streaming content, including the BBC iPlayer, the AceTrax movie rental/purchase site, and Blinkbox.
The 55LW980T also reminded us of just how well designed and attractive LG’s Smart TV menus are. And it was a massive relief to find that although its online services are a bit sluggish, the 55LW980T suffered from far fewer crashes and dysfunctional online services than we experienced with the 50PZ950T.