- Gorgeous ‘bezel-free’ design
- Terrific pictures, in 2D and 3D mode
- Comprehensive online features
- Some resolution loss when showing motion
- Input lag may trouble gamers
- Slight backlight inconsistencies
- Review Price: £1800.00
- 55in edge LED screen
- Passive 3D playback
- 4 pairs of glasses included
- Smart TV online services
- ‘Bezel-free’ design
Naturally not all heroic underdog efforts are destined to end in success. But sometimes you get brands that are so doggedly determined to make it to the top that they merely take what criticism they get along the way on the chin and use it to make themselves stronger.
All of which rather high falutin’, tear-jerkin’ stuff brings us to the LG 55LM660T. Now, obviously LG is hardly a tiny, struggling brand. But it has for many years been locked in a dogged scrap with an arch local Korean rival (Samsung, if you’re wondering). A scrap which, to be honest, it’s spent most of the time losing. But with every new skirmish the battle has felt that little bit more evenly matched. And now, with the 55LM660T, LG looks like it might have finally earned at least a score draw.
As soon as you get the 55LM660T out of its box, LG’s desire to make a statement hits you like a sledgehammer. Except that, um, it doesn’t hurt and is also very, very pretty. The main design trait is the almost complete absence of bezel around the 55in screen. In fact, when the TV’s turned off, you’re only really aware of the silvery band that wraps right around the TV’s outer edge – and this is barely 1mm thick.
With the TV on, the 1cm or so of black bezel does become visible. But it’s still a stunning design achievement that comfortably rivals Samsung’s much-lauded skinny-bezelled efforts. And let’s not forget that this design has been applied to what’s essentially a mid-range model, at least within LG’s 3D TV offerings.
The 55LM660T unsurprisingly cuts no corners with its connections. A full quota of four HDMIs is on hand for receiving HD and 3D sources, while multimedia support extends to three USBs, a D-Sub PC input, a LAN port and, we’re pleased to say, integrated Wi-Fi.
The network options can be used for networking PCs and Macs to the TV for streaming via DLNA protocols, LG’s own Smart Share software, or PLEX. Plus, of course, the LAN/Wi-Fi options can be used to go online with LG’s latest Smart TV system.
The USBs and network options are able to play an impressive range of video, photo and music files, including DivX HD.
Accessories and remote control
Considering that at £1800 the LG 55LM660T is by no means overpriced for a 55in 3D TV packed with multimedia talents, it ships with an impressive array of accessories. For as well as four pairs of passive 3D glasses, you also get two remote controls: a standard one, and a new version of the LG ‘Magic’ remote found on the brand’s top-end TVs last year.
The Magic remote basically works like a sophisticated pointer, allowing you to control a navigation cursor on the screen just by pointing the remote at the screen and moving it around. We admired this approach on last year’s high-end LG models, but the system has been greatly improved this time round, with more intuitive integration of the system with the TV’s menus, and a more accurate response from the onscreen pointer.
The remote also feels more comfortable in the hand, carries just the right amount of buttons to ensure that it doesn’t add unnecessary fiddliness to menu navigation, and is now equipped with a menu ‘wheel’ like that found on most modern PC mice, allowing for rapid navigation up and down menu lists.
We’re convinced the Magic remote will quickly become the controller of choice for any even slightly technophobic users, as it really does feel surprisingly intuitive versus the normal remote control. It’s worth saying, too, that the Magic remote is now supplied with the 55LM660T free of charge.
Interface and Smart TV
A further big boost to the LG 55LM660T’s ease of use comes from its redesigned onscreen menus. The Smart Hub screen used to provide a jumping off point to all your sources looks lovely in new, higher-resolution clothes, presenting huge amounts of information and options without looking cluttered or confusing.
We also greatly appreciated the relative ease with which LG’s new set recognised both the PC and Macs on our network versus last year’s sets.
In terms of the content now available through LG’s Smart TV service, it’s pretty vast. We counted around 150 apps in total. However, at least three-quarters of these are more or less completely pointless. Just as well, then, that LG has tacitly acknowledged this by separating apps into Premium (as in, stuff you might actually want to use) and less useful generic ‘App’ listings.
There’s also a dedicated folder on the Smart Hub for accessing 3D video content from LG’s online 3D channel. Again much of this content is pretty cheap and cheerful, but there is the odd gem if you care to seek it out.
Among the premium services are LoveFilm, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, AceTrax, Blinkbox, Twitter, Facebook, and BoxOffice365. So it’s fair to say the TV doesn’t sell you short where video streaming sources are concerned.
LG has done its usual good work when it comes to providing you with adjustments for the 55LM660T’s pictures. The set is endorsed by the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF), meaning there are fulsome gamma and colour management tools, as well as a couple of presets an ISF engineer could use to optimise the TV for your room conditions.
What’s really exciting about the 55LM660T, though, is that all LG’s customary flexibility is attached to a clearly high-quality core panel. A combination that results in some excellent picture quality.
The star of the show is the 55LM660T’s 3D performance. Regular readers will know that we’ve not always been convinced by LG’s passive 3D system, especially when it’s used on really large screens like that of the 55LM660T. But on the evidence of this TV, it seems like our previous issues may have had more to do with problems in the panel driving the technology than the passive technology itself.
Right away, for instance, you’re attracted to the intense colours and brightness of the 3D picture, making the dark, dingy images associated with some active shutter 3D engines look like some dirty bad memory.
This brightness means, moreover, that dark scenes are replete with the sort of shadow details commonly crushed out on active 3D systems, while the sense of depth to 3D images is impressive. The image’s vibrancy seems to add more distinction to the different ‘layers’ and depth markers within a 3D frame.
Thanks to the use of passive rather than active glasses, the 3D image doesn’t flicker at all, even if you’re watching in a bright room. The passive nature of the glasses also means that we found ourselves able to watch 3D on the 55LM660T over longer stretches of time without feeling knackered.
3D image quality
The 55LM660T’s 3D pictures also look natural, direct and involving, and crucially we felt less troubled than we were on last year’s equivalent model by either the horizontal line structure or reduced resolution issues associated with the passive approach. Sure, you can still see some jaggedness in bright curved edges, or over small, bright objects. And yes, the existence of this line structure does make pictures look a little less than full HD resolution at times.
But this does not mean 3D pictures on the 55LM660T don’t look sharp and detailed. They most definitely do. Especially as the panel inside the TV is good enough to ensure that for the most part it delivers on passive 3D’s ‘no crosstalk’ claim.
As noted in our recent review of the the passive 3D Finlux 42F7010 TV, suggestions that passive 3D is automatically immune to crosstalk’s double ghosting problem are just plain wrong. However, the LG 55LM660T really does keep crosstalk levels very low indeed – so long, at least, as you make sure you a) turn off all of the TV’s noise reduction processing, and b) don’t watch from a vertical viewing angle of more than 13 degrees. For both of these scenarios result in crosstalk rising from almost non-existent to excessive.
Take these simple precautions, though, and the bottom line is that 3D on the 55LM660T looks immersive, colourful, crisp, and bright – and as such is something you’ll likely be drawn back to watching again and again.
2D picture quality
Of course, though, even the most ardent of 3D fans will only end up watching 3D for a relatively small amount of their total viewing time. So, it’s great to discover that the LG 55LM660T is also a fine 2D performer.
Contrast is pretty extreme, for instance, as deep black levels manage to share the same frame as rich colours and punchy whites. What’s more, unlike last year’s 55in LG models, this mostly impressive contrast performance is achieved without the image suffering too heavily from backlight inconsistencies. There are small slivers of extra brightness down the extreme edges of the screen, but these can be controlled pretty well via some careful calibration of the set’s backlight and contrast settings.
HD 2D pictures, meanwhile, look exceptionally sharp and detailed too for much of the time, while colours combine high vibrancy levels with the sort of tonal subtlety that shows right away that the picture processing engine in the 55LM660T is a pretty superior effort.
That such punchy, rich and satisfying pictures are coming from an edge LED TV with such a tiny bezel merely underscores the sheer drama and enjoyment of the 55LM660T 2D experience.
The 55LM660T is not a perfect picture performer, though. For starters, once the screen has been calibrated to deliver the best black level response and least backlight inconsistency, dark parts of the picture look slightly hollow, as the screen struggles to cling on to all the low-light detailing and dark colour information that helps dark scenes look as deep as bright ones.
It’s noticeable during both HD and especially standard definition viewing, too, that moving objects judder a touch and therefore lose a little resolution as they pass across the screen. Camera pans are also affected. But while this is something we’ll be hoping LG’s higher-level new TVs will fix, it’s no worse on the 55LM660T than we would expect of any mid-range TV.
There is one area, though, where the LG 55LM660T does perform worse than most rivals: input lag. We’ve found the past few generations of LG TVs to suffer unusually long delays between source images arriving to the TVs’ inputs and then appearing on screen. And the 55LM660T continues this theme, taking in the region of 100ms to show pictures – even if you use the provided ‘game’ preset. This compares poorly with the 30-40ms experienced with most TVs, and has the potential to reduce the performance of console or PC gamers.
Wrapping up our analysis of the 55LM660T’s performance with its audio, we find a solid enough effort – maybe a slightly better than solid effort by the standards of other ultra-thin TVs. The set struggles to sound open and detailed when the going gets tough, instead sounding rather thin and overloaded. But things seldom actually sound harsh, and there’s slightly more bass information around than might have been expected given how little room the onboard speakers have to work with.
The LG 55LM660T represents a great and ambitious start to LG’s 2012 TV range. As well as being stunningly attractive, and delivering features galore and some great interface innovations, it takes passive 3D to the next level while simultaneously delivering one of the best 2D pictures we’ve yet seen – from not just an LG TV, but any mid-range TV period.
Score in detail
3D Quality 9
2D Quality 9
Sound Quality 7
|Max. Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Full HD 1080p||Yes|
|Refresh Rate (Hertz)||400 (MCI)Hz|
|Digital Audio Out||1 (optical)|