- 4K pictures are unbelievably good
- Upscaled HD pictures look great too
- Impressive online and multimedia services
- Backlight inconsistency during dark scenes
- High input lag
- Some minor motion flaws
- Review Price: £22500.00
- 84in LCD with edge LED lighting
- Ultra HD native resolution
- Passive 3D playback
- Smart TV online platform
- Multimedia playback via USB or LAN/wi-fi
It’s not far off a full 12 months since LG essentially won the 2012 CES in Las Vegas with its mouthwatering double whammy of a 55in OLED TV and an 84in 4k – sorry, ‘ultra HD’ – TV. Both products looked set to establish LG as the new pace-setter in the TV world.
But then, um, nothing really happened with them. Recently LG had to admit that the OLED set wasn’t going to be launched in 2012 after all. And with Christmas looming large, it was starting to look like the 84in Ultra HD model wasn’t going to make the 2012 deadline either.
Then, all of a sudden, bang: the LG 84LM960V arrived in our test room, looming over all the other ‘puny’ TVs in there like some Arthur C Clarke-inspired monolith.
To say the LG 84LM960V’s 84in screen is impactful would be like calling Jupiter ‘pretty big’. Its screen acreage is equivalent to four 42in TVs, and although LG has actually done rather well at minimising the amount of bezel around the screen, it’s an intimidatingly huge addition to even the most gargantuan of rooms. For some idea of just how big it really is, check out the photo below showing a 55in Loewe TV sat in front of the 84LM960V.
Big is beautiful
We’re definitely not complaining about the LG 84LM960V’s aesthetic impact, though. On the contrary, if we’re going to be spending £22,500 on the 84LM960V, we damn well want it to make an impact. In fact, we want it to be the only thing in the room anyone looks at!
With this in mind, it’s nice to see that LG has at least tried to prettify its TV monster by adorning it in a fetching metallic silver finish, and mounting it on a surprisingly stylish – if slightly over-shiny – ‘outline’ stand. Despite its prettiness the main TV body appears phenomenally robust (as it probably needs to be!); so much so we might be tempted to call it the Titanic of the TV world had the Titanic not, you know, sunk and stuff.
The 84LM960V is a genuine TV rather than just a massive screen, so inside it you’ll find a Freeview HD tuner. It’s also got all the usual video connections, including four HDMIs, three USBs for playing back multimedia files from USB storage devices, and integrated LAN and Wi-Fi connectivity for adding the TV to your home network.
This latter functionality can be used for either streaming content from a connected PC or Mac via a much-improved PLEX media interface, or you can go online with LG’s Smart TV platform. This too is much improved from last year, now rivalling Samsung’s online service in terms of the amount of content on there, and also featuring a very attractive, mostly well-constructed onscreen menu system.
There’s a bit too much ‘junk’ cluttering up LG’s online service, but all of the video big-hitters are on there now – along with a few niche but still occasionally interesting smaller video platforms – and that’s all that matters, really.
As with the Sony 84X9005 84in ultra HD model (which actually features an LG panel at its heart), the sheer scale of the 84LM960V’s pictures makes its onscreen menus look a touch rough and ready, even though they looked very nice on LG’s smaller, normal HD resolution TVs. They’re still much easier to navigate than Sony’s menus, thankfully, and the ‘point and click’ operation option offered by the included second Magic Remote (picture below) is a boon. But we can’t wait to see some ultra HD menus on the next generation of 4k products.
The key specs of the LG 84LM960V’s screen, meanwhile, stack up like this. First and most important, there’s its native pixel count of 3840×2160. That’s four times as many pixels as a normal full HD TV. Also important is the set’s use of edge LED lighting, backed up by a local dimming system, and an 800Hz motion reproduction system created by combining a 200Hz native panel with a scanning backlight and motion interpolation.
Then there’s the set’s passive 3D playback. This is supported by the inclusion of seven free pairs of passive 3D glasses, and is especially interesting because the Ultra HD resolution effectively means you can enjoy 3D Blu-rays at their full resolution, without the slight resolution compromise you normally get with passive technology.
One last element of the LG 84LM960V’s feature set to quickly cover concerns its seriously impressive roster of picture adjustments. The set is endorsed by the Imaging Science Foundation calibration organisation, and if you select one of the ISF presets you get access to a full colour management and white balance system, while other features of note include an impressive suite of options and flexibility to do with the set’s motion processing; an interesting system for adjusting grass and sky colour (!); and the option to turn on and adjust the level of the set’s local dimming engine.
Wherefore art thou 4k content?
While everything we’ve seen of Ultra HD so far has made us fall in love with it, ‘4k’ content remains depressingly hard to come by. Which is why LG helpfully sent a special 4k content server (pictured below) with the TV, which pipes in a few minutes worth of 4k content predominantly shot at various famous locations around the world, including Tower Bridge, Big Ben, the Eiffel tower, Acropolis, Norwegian Fjords, and what looks like the American wilds. (Please note that this server is not available to buy.)
And trust us when we say that every single frame of this native 4k content looks nothing short of jaw-dropping. The sheer pixel density delivered by the Ultra HD pixel count enables even a screen as big as this one to paint native 4k pictures with such precision and detailing that you forget that you’re looking at a collection of pixels and just get lost in the experience of gawping at what appears to be a view of the real world. Think of the ‘retina’ screen effect on the latest iPads applied to a life-sized environment and you might get some idea of just how beautiful and immersive the 84LM960V’s 4k pictures look.
No looking back
It’s also important to stress that while you might currently feel very happy with the appearance of full HD on your current TV, once you’ve seen 4k in action you become almost painfully aware of the relative lack of sharpness and richness of even the best pictorial efforts from normal HD TVs. In other words, the 84LM960V’s sensational 4k efforts aren’t just a glimpse of the future of TV, they’re a glimpse of an AV fan’s dreams come true.
We should stress, too, that the salivating and general dribbling we did over the LG 84LM960V’s Ultra HD pictures wasn’t just down to their awesome resolution. The set also enjoys startlingly punchy colours given added emphasis by the huge tonal subtlety delivered by a combination of the extra pixel density and the quality of LG’s image processing.
Contrast seems strong too in many ways; certainly there’s plenty of depth to dark parts of predominantly bright pictures, which makes those strong colours look even more dynamic. Crucially, though, the colour vibrancy doesn’t tip over into gaudiness or unnaturalness.
It’s good to see too that the 84LM960V does pretty well at avoiding the judder and blur issues associated with LCD technology. It’s not impeccable in this respect, and needs a bit of care with the motion processing settings (for the record we manually set the judder and blur reduction elements of the TruMotion system to their 3 level). But motion looks clean enough that you still feel the impact of the Ultra HD pixel count even during the most motion-packed of action scenes.
The 84LM960V doesn’t benefit from the almost uncannily clever X-Reality Pro 4k processing Sony delivers on its 84X9005, so its 4k pictures don’t look quite as detailed. But they still look magnificent, and in any case, purists probably won’t want to use the Sony’s processing with 4k anyway.
Painful though it is, we need to tear ourselves away from the 84LM960V’s stunning 4k demo footage to focus on something more (currently) real world: the upscaling processing it uses to map HD and even standard def sources onto the Ultra HD panel.
Thankfully LG seems to have worked really hard on this key part of the LG 84LM960V’s functionality, at least where HD upscaling is concerned. We were extremely impressed by how well the set did at adding greater pixel density to Blu-ray and even HD broadcast content. Images clearly look more textured and crisp, yet at the same time the processing is astute enough not to exaggerate any small amounts of noise that might be in the source.
The way the upscaling processing also adds colour detail is impressive too, and there seems to be little if any sense of colour tones taking a dive as can happen with less astute upscaling systems.
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.
Score in detail
3D Quality 9
2D Quality 9
Sound Quality 9
|Max. Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Full HD 1080p||Yes (actually 4k!)|
|Refresh Rate (Hertz)||800 (MCI)Hz|
|Digital Audio Out||1 (optical)|