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LG 55LW980T - 2D Picture Quality

John Archer

By John Archer



  • Recommended by TR
LG 55LW980T 'Nano'


Our Score:


The 55LW980T’s general onscreen menus are excellent; graphics-rich and easy to read and navigate. LG has even included two different control systems with the TV. For as well as a standard LG remote, you get a ‘Magic’ one that allows you to navigate through menu options by pointing the remote directly at the screen, and using a much simplified series of buttons and ‘gestures’.

This probably won’t interest tech-heads, but a quick poll of friends and colleagues found a pretty healthy section of people who found the Magic Remote approach really intuitive.LG 55LW980T 'Nano'

The 55LW980T’s screen specs seem to tally nicely with the sort of things we’d hope to see from a flagship TV. The screen’s resolution is full HD of course, and LG claims to be able to get a monstrously high 10,000,000:1 contrast ratio out of it thanks to the onboard direct LED/local dimming illumination system.

As recently as IFA 2011 we were being told by LG's TV product managers that the 55LW980T would be using no less than 288 separately controllable LED clusters. Such a specification would have allowed the set to deliver a very good degree of brightness localisation - in other words, deep blacks should be able to sit adjacent to really bright whites without too much ‘bleeding’.

This was the information we reported in good faith when we first posted this review. But we've discovered since this original review that at some point LG decided to reduce the amount of controllable LED clusters to the much lower figure of 96. A spec change which certainly explains perfectly the initial problems we had with light haloing/bleeding, as described below. It goes without saying that LG really shouldn't be making spec changes of this magnitude so late in the day, especially without informing journalists about it.

Expecting the 55LW980T’s 2D capabilities to be its main draw, this is where we started the performance phase of our test. And after a bit of unexpected tinkering, the TV didn’t let us down.

The tinkering revolves around the set’s contrast settings - or more specifically, its local dimming settings. Our test set arrived with its local dimming option set pretty high, which led to disturbing amounts of light ‘clouds’ around bright objects when they appear against dark backgrounds. The extent of this so-called ‘haloing’ effect really surprised us given that initially we were under the impression that the 55LW980T had 288 points of light control. But it's much easier to understand now that we've come to learn there are actually only 96 locally controllable light points.

LG 55LW980T 'Nano'

So despite our usual liking for local dimming technology, we hurriedly turned the 55LW980T’s local dimming system right off. Only to be presented with the poorest black level response we’ve probably ever seen from a direct LED TV!

Thankfully, there is a solution to these black level woes, which is to set the local dimming option to Low. There’s still a little haloing under extreme circumstances, but it’s much less noticeable, and black levels look satisfyingly deep. Especially as even the blackest corners using this setting contain impressive amounts of shadow detail compared with other LCD technologies.

With this initial scare dealt with, the 55LW980T really starts to shine with its other picture attributes. Its colours are spectacular for instance, with an exceptional combination of brightness and fierce saturations. Yet the clearly potent processing engine at the 55LW980T’s heart ensures there’s plenty of subtlety to accompany the pyrotechnics, with neither striping nor blotching to spoil the colour show.

LG 55LW980T 'Nano'

The 55LW980T’s 2D HD pictures are exquisitely sharp and detailed too - even when there’s a lot of motion to deal with. LG TVs can normally be a little hit and miss where motion is concerned, but the 55LW980T’s motion looks clean, fluid and completely natural (so long as you don’t bother with the provided TruMotion processing). So natural does motion look on the 55LW980T, in fact, that we quickly forgot to even look out for potential motion problems.

The 55LW980T also delivers engaging standard definition pictures. There’s still a little way to go before LG’s boffins can match the near-perfection of the standard def upscaling witnessed on Samsung’s premium TVs, but the fact that the 55LW980T can convert standard def images to its HD resolution well enough to make them enjoyable on a 55in screen is an achievement in itself.

Buzzing from the quality of the 55LW980T’s 2D pictures, we popped on one of the seven - yes, seven - pairs of passive 3D glasses LG supplies with its 55in LCD flagship and fired up our 3D Blu-ray player. And what we saw stopped us in our tracks. For as hinted earlier, we immediately found ourselves startlingly engaged by not just the simplicity but also the quality of the 55LW980T’s 3D pictures.

A Scotland

October 14, 2011, 4:40 pm

So which would you go for. The Panasonic GT30 (50 inch), the Samsung D6530 (55 inch) or this? Assuming money was not an issue.


October 14, 2011, 5:40 pm

At the price this LG sells for, the fair comparison would be the 55 inch Samsung D8000 and Panasonic VT30.


October 14, 2011, 6:25 pm

@Chris: don't expect this model to stay at the RRP for long. I got last year's 47LE8900 for £1K when the RRP was £2K. Wait a little bit and you'll probably see some cracking bargains on this model too, making it very competitive. For what it's worth, the 47LE8900, also with local dimming, is spectacular.


October 18, 2011, 3:07 pm

I would definitely go with LG 55LW980T. I read another review on this model before and it said this model is the first THX certified passive 3D TV that also has local dimming light under the panel. In addition, its design got much nicer and add lot more apps in their dash board. They still include the wii-like remote controller too. I haven't seen the picture quality yet, but I bet it would look stunning. I liked LG's lower models which were lw5600 and 6500 and thought the picture quality on them were superb also. Now since it is higher model that even has a local dimming light and THX certified, I cannot doubt about its picture quality.


October 26, 2011, 11:25 am

I recently compared this LG with the Panasonic TH-P65VT30, and ended up getting the Panasonic.
When viewed side by side I noticed a reduction in the clarity of the 3D image on the LG. I thought it strange as the screen is smaller and put it down to the banding that I saw when standing up close.
I then learned that the 3D is 720p on the LG, while the Panasonic is 1080p, and (I guess) I saw this, when comparing.
I got the Panasonic as an upgrade from a Pioneer PDP-504 and I wanted the option of 1080 in both 2D and 3D (and also went for the more obvious size increase).
Re active/passive glasses. Of all the pros and cons between the formats, flicker in day light could well be the most obvious difference.
We are moving into summer here so for now it is 3D movies at night only. I do not want to live in a cave all Weekend.
All the shops I went to had no windows, Ahh well you live and learn.


September 26, 2012, 12:59 am

I recently purchased an LG47LW980T after weeks of reading review/compare sites and am very pleased with its performance. The picture on this TV is breathtaking in HD and blu ray with some of the most vivid colours I have ever seen on a TV. 3D is great and very bright due to the full baclit led screen although the resolution is not quiet full HD it is still very good with a good sense of depth and certainly more comfortable than active 3d with no flicker or crosstalk. Also this TV although coming out last year has a MCI of 1000mhz which is the same as some of the latest 2012 models out now. The only problem I did have when first setting up was with motion juder, but this was cured by turning trumotion setting off completely. I would Highly recommend this TV to anyone, and here is the setting that I find best worked for me. Energy saving off, Backlight 70, Contrast 80, Brightness 50, Sharpness 70, Colour 68, tint&Colour temp zero, True motion off.

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