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Review: LG Smart TV

Written on July 10, 2011

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LG has launched an aggressive advertising campaign to launch its line of smart 3D TVs in the Australian market.

The heart of the message is the fact the new line of LG panels use Cinema 3D -  a passive system which allows viewers to watch 3D with cheaper, lighter, battery-free glasses like those used in cinemas.

LG’s LED Smart TVs not only includes Cinema 3D but also an all-new “magic” remote control system.   

For the smart TV portion of our review we took a look at the LG 50PZ570 full high definition 50-inch plasma panel.

3D on this plasma panel is viewed with active-battery operated shutter glasses while the LED models use the passive lightweight cinema style glasses. But more on that later.

It has a thin black bezel, is 5.25cm thick and weighs 29.8kg with the stand and 27.5kg without.

SMART TV

Users can access the dashboard from the remote control and are presented a screen divided into sections offering content, apps and a viewing window to see the TV channel you’re currently watching.

The dashboard and Smart TV experience is identical on LG’s LED panels

The LG Smart TV dashboard is the gateway to content, the web and apps

From here users can download and use apps from various categories including games, entertainment, news/info, life and education.

There’s also a web browser and access to Bigpond movies, ABC’s iView catch-up TV, Plus7 – channel 7’s catch-up TV portal.

Viewers can also log into Facebook and Twitter from their LG Smart TV.

There are also shortcuts to the set-up menu, inputs and the electronic program guide (EPG).

LG's Cinema 3D Smart TV

PICTURE QUALITY

Picture quality on the LG 50PZ570 was impressive with good black levels and contrast. Colours lacked a little warmth despite our best efforts to tweak it in the settings.

It’s a definite step up from previous models with clear improvements in sharpness and detail.

The LG LED models offer improved colour reproduction and less “noise” in the darker parts of the screen but slightly weaker black levels.

The Magic Motion remote works like the Wii game controller

MAGIC MOTION REMOTE

One of the best features of LG’s Smart TVs is the Magic Motion remote control. The slender device has hardly any buttons on it – power, Home, directional keys, select and program and volume up and down.

The reason for this is because the device is used like a Wii gaming controller.

When a button is pressed on the Magic Motion remote a cross appears on the screen and it’s simply a matter of moving the remote and guiding the cross hairs around the screen.

This comes in handy when navigating the Smart TV dashboard and the web browser because it essentially turns the Magic Motion remote into a mouse to easily point and click.

3D VIEWING

Here’s where the plasma and LED models differ widely.

On the plasma, 3D is achieved with active battery-operated glasses that provide full high definition viewing.

These active glasses are actually shutters that open and close and let in a full high definition image into each eye to create the 3D effect.

Cinema 3D is only offered on LG’s LED TVs because that panel format supports the addition of a polarising filter to the screen.

The advantage of Cinema 3D is in the glasses – they are light, cheap ($19 a pair) and don’t have a battery and therefore don’t need recharging.

LG’s clever ads illustrate these advantages over active shutter quite well.

But one thing LG’s humorous ads don’t point out is the fact that Cinema 3D can’t offer the same full high definition 3D quality that active shutter glasses can.

Being a passive system, Cinema 3D offers actually half the resolution of regular HD 3D. So instead getting the 1080 horizontal lines of full HD you’re only getting 540.

The passive, lightweight 3D glasses which require no batteries

While it lacks the resolution of regular 3D, Cinema 3D does deliver improved brightness and a similar viewing angle.

Both the plasmas and LED also offer 2D to 3D conversion as well.

CONCLUSION

The LG Smart 3D TVs deliver an excellent connected TV experience to access content, apps and catch up TV.

But the LG offerings also presents a dilemma for customers – do they go for convenience and lower cost with Cinema 3D passive glasses but lower resolution or go for the plasma with more expensive battery operated glasses but full high definition 3D viewing?

If you’re not fussed with having full HD 3D viewing but excellent 2D then the LED is your TV.

Those who are a little fussier with their picture quality should opt for the plasma for full HD in 2D and 3D.

Funny enough the plasma panels are cheaper but require more expensive 3D active glasses while the LED models are more expensive and only need the cheaper 3D passive glasses.

LG 50PZ570 (3D plasma)

Price: $1,699

Four stars (out of five)

LG 55LW6500 (Cinema 3D LED)

Price: $3,299

Three and half stars (out of five)

www.lg.com.au