The upscaled HD pictures aren’t as downright beautiful as true 4k images, it must be said. But they’re discernibly superior to normal HD images, especially in the context of the vast 84in screen.
The 84LM960V’s processing hits a bit of a wall, though, when put to the admittedly mammoth task of converting standard definition sources to Ultra HD. The results are a bit soft and mushy, especially with tuner (as opposed to DVD) fare, and the set seems to play it safe with colours, leaving them looking rather monotone rather than trying to introduce much extra subtlety.
Does standard def upscaling matter?
While Sony’s 84X9005 certainly performs better where standard def upscaling is concerned, though, it isn’t really a big problem for us anyway. For anyone who attempts to feed an 84in TV of any sort - never mind an Ultra HD one - significant amounts of standard definition frankly needs their head examining.
The 84LM960V’s suitably cutting edge efforts continue with its 3D playback. As with Sony’s 84X9005, the combination of passive 3D tech (with its freedom from crosstalk and flicker) with twice the horizontal resolution of normal HD TVs proves irresistible, serving up full-resolution 3D Blu-rays with sensational clarity and depth, and without the usual passive 3D problems of jagged contours and visible horizontal line structure.
In short,the 84LM960V produces 3D pictures closer to those you’d get at a commercial cinema than any other TV bar Sony’s equally talented 84X9005. Awesome.
While the 84LM960V is in most ways a spectacular advance look at the shape of TV to come, it’s not entirely without its foibles. The main one will come as no surprise to readers of recent reviews of other LG LCD TVs. For the set routinely suffers with backlight inconsistencies.
If you don’t use the set’s local dimming system, the amount of backlight bleed around the picture’s edges - especially its lower corners - is really quite excessive during dark scenes. Especially if those dark scenes have a bright element or two within them.
Happily, activating the local dimming system - even on its low setting - greatly reduces this distracting problem. But unfortunately it introduces a separate problem of its own. For you can regularly make out rectangular vertical ‘bands’ of light around bright objects when they appear against dark backgrounds.
These bands are less aggressive than the backlight bleed you see without local dimming on, but they can still be quite distracting at times - especially if you’re watching a 21:9-ratio film with black bars above and below the picture.
Reducing the 84LM960V’s backlight can at least subdue the banding problem, but it’s impossible to completely remove it without turning the local dimming off - and we’ve already seen that this isn’t really an option.
As briefly mentioned earlier, meanwhile, while the 84LM960V’s motion reproduction is acceptable, it’s not perfect. Finally in the negative department, our input lag tests revealed that even using the TV’s Game preset and turning off as much processing as possible, the 84LM960V still posts an average delay of around 100ms between images arriving at the TV’s input and then appearing on the screen. While typical for LG passive 3D TVs, this figure is more than three times as high as the figures we see from most flat TVs, and demonstrably upsets your performance if you’re a keen gamer.
Despite its flaws, the LG 84LM960V’s Ultra HD and upscaled Blu-ray performance, together with its sheer ambition, means it deserves to have this review finish on a high. So we’re pleased - and surprised - to be able to say that sonically the set is excellent. Two large drives on the set’s rear (one shown in the picture above) pump out a soundstage of startling power and dynamic range without distorting, and actually manage to produce a soundstage big enough to keep the enormous pictures company.
As with Sony’s 84X9005, the LG 84LM960V is a genuinely thrilling glimpse of what we think - hope? - is going to be the future of TV technology. Its native 4k pictures are mesmerisingly good, its upscaled HD ones are also pretty special, and its passive 3D efforts are a revelation.
It’s a shame to find all this cutting edge awesomeness undermined by some rather basic backlight flaws, and it’s also unfortunate that gamers will find their joy at seeing the likes of COD and Borderlands 2 rendered up to Ultra HD tempered by the set’s high input lag.
Plus, of course, only lottery winners, Premiership footballers and top bankers will have a hope of actually being able to afford an 84LM960V.
None of this, though, ultimately stops the LG 84LM960V from being overall a hugely exciting product capable of producing picture quality the like of which we’ve only ever seen once before - on Sony’s even more expensive 84X9005.