LG 55LA7400 LCD HDTV Review
The LG 55LA7400 falls in the middle of LG’s LED LCD lineup this year. Most of what you’re buying in the higher-end sets is specialty features, like GoogleTV or integrated cameras. If you’re just concerned with picture quality, the LA7400 line is 2nd from the top.
That all said, the 55LA7400 comes well loaded with apps and other features for the price as well, so it’s time to take a look.
The LA7400 line is an LED Edge-Lit LCD available in three sizes: 47-, 55-, and 60-inches. It comes dressed in a thin silver bezel and is a scant 1.36” deep. The screen has a glossy finish with a film-type patterned retarder (FPR) on it. This FPR allows the LA7400 to do passive 3D with simple polarized glasses instead of the more common active 3D with powered glasses.
You’ll also find LG’s Smart TV apps selection, 240 Hz TruMotion technology (LGs term for a 120 Hz panel with a pulsing backlight), as well as the ability to do separate views for two-person gaming with optional special glasses. One big difference with the LG, compared to most TVs, is the included Magic Remote. It uses gyroscopes like a Wii controller, allowing for point-and-click navigation. A built-in mic adds voice control to the mix.
The Magic Remote can be programmed easily to control your other devices too. An automated system helps you choose the correct device type and manufacturer, then tests to make sure it all works. However, using the Magic Remote I found myself wishing a regular remote had been included as well. The universal functionality is well done but hard buttons are easier to find/use in the dark.
The LA7400 has 3 HDMI inputs (HDMI 1 has Audio Return Channel and HDMI 3 features Mobile High-Definition Link). In addition, there are three USB and a shared component/composite input. The HDMI and USB jacks are side facing while the other jacks face the rear. LG offers a USB-to-RS232 dongle for an extra cost to enable integration with control systems like Crestron, iRule and Control4.
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There are seven picture modes to choose from (Vivid, Standard, Game, Cinema, Ego, and ISF Expert 1 and 2) and all feature your standard picture controls (Brightness, Contrast, Backlight, Color, Tint, Horizontal and Vertical Sharpness, and Color Temp). The advanced settings offer 2-point and 20-point White Balance controls, three gamma presents (1.8, 2.2, 2.4), reference Color Gamut selections (Rec709, SMPTE, EBU) and a full 6-point, 3-axis color management system (CMS). While white balance settings can be copied from one input to every other input, the other controls are input specific.
Additional controls are available for noise and MPEG noise reduction, LED auto-dimming, and TruMotion (LG’s frame interpolation). Judder and Blur reduction have their own controls, allowing you to achieve true 5:5 pull-down on a 24p film without adding the soap-opera effect.
LG also provides the necessary test patterns and a Picture Wizard to set the basic controls correctly. Discs like Disney World of Wonder or Spears & Munsil contain better patterns than the LG does, but it helps get you close.
LG includes two features for the gamers in the audience: A Game Mode preset, and a unique two-player split-screen function. Game Mode bypasses most video processing and removes 100ms of lag. The lag reduction isn’t noticeable on films but is apparent on any fast video game. The split-screen feature uses an optional special pair of 3D glasses you can purchase separately. One player sees the “left eye” image, and one the “right eye” image, enabling you to both play without seeing the other’s screen. Many games on the Xbox 360 and PS3 support this dual-screen mode.
LG has most of the main apps you’d be looking for: Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Vudu. It lacks, however, Amazon On Demand. LG states they plan to add Amazon
in the near future during July 2013. LG offers over 50 other apps as well.
From a USB drive you can play back audio (MP3), video (MPEG, DivX HD, MP4, ASF, WMV, AVI, MOV, MKV) and photos (JPEG) on the LG. I tried some .MKV files on my network drive, and they all played back perfectly.
Using the 50% White Equal Energy Pattern on Spears and Munsil, with the display calibrated for 40 foot-Lamberts (ftl) of output, it uses 54 watts.
Before using any test equipment, I used ISF Expert mode and the Picture Wizard to setup the LA7400. The Warm2 color temperature provides a grayscale that is good except a small blue tint around bright white. The Rec709 Color Gamut selection produces primary and secondary colors very close to their ideal targets. Gamma is virtually perfect at 2.41 using the 2.4 preset.
After calibration the readings are reference quality. Grayscale shows no tint at all from 10 IRE to 100 IRE. The primary and secondary color points are dead-on accurate and the gamma is the ideal 2.4. The white level, as set to 40-foot lamberts on white, produces a black level of 0.0300-foot lamberts. The resulting contrast ratio of 1,300:1 is in line with other midrange LED LCD displays.
Without TruMotion engaged, the LA7400 displays around 340 lines of resolution clearly. Engaging TruMotion to the lowest level raises that to 540 lines, according to the Spears & Munsil test disc. Going to the maximum setting, Clear Plus, I still saw 540 lines of resolution. This is normal performance for a 120 Hz panel. The LA7400 has a pulsing backlight, not a scanning one, and so we see no extra motion resolution from it.
The LG LA7400 handles all cadences, from 24p to 60i, with aplomb. No pixels are cropped and no fake sharpening or edge enhancement is forced on you.
Uniformity, as is typical with edge-lit LED LCDs, isn’t great, as shown in the picture below:
The first generation of LG passive 3D intrigued me, but the results weren’t great. The updated version on the LA7400 has some of the best 3D I’ve watched at home. Hugo looks wonderful, with a great pop and depth to the 3D. Prior passive 3D models always exhibited some very bad jaggies on screen; the LA7400 is virtually free of those issues.
Crosstalk is practically non-existent on the LA7400. It beats any active 3D system, and produces an image that’s easy to watch. With lots of panel brightness and four pair of glasses included, it is a fantastic 3D set. The 3D is so good I actually watched all of Hugo in 3D for the first time.
Sound on the LA7400 is acceptable but below the quality of the picture. A subwoofer helps but overall sound is a bit thin. A display this quality should be paired with a soundbar or full 5.1 system anyway. The HDMI input with Audio Return Channel and Optical output will let it work with almost any model on the market.
With Avengers, during the climactic battle in NYC, the yellow taxis look spot on while the blue of Captain America’s suit pops off the screen. Detail is wonderful, and the image is nice and natural with excellent detail. One issue: I saw some light leakage from two corners during dark scenes and on 2.35 letterboxed content. Shadow detail in these scenes, like Loki and Thor on the mountain in The Avengers, is washed out.
In the final Harry Potter film is a dark image torture test. The very darkest scenes appear a bit muddled on the LG. We would also disable LED Dimming as it causes darker scenes to pulse in brightness and makes the darkest scenes too dark.
The entrance into Macau in Skyfall is an ideal way to show off contrast. The lanterns and dragon pop off the screen against the black background, but with the fireworks and LED dimming enabled they do cause some blooming.
If you are after an LED set, the LA7400 performs well compared to other LEDs in its price range. The 55-incher reviewed here is $1,600 at Amazon, and the 60-inches comes in at $1,900. The pre-calibration image was OK, but the calibrated image was often beautiful, with great color saturation and a nice, natural look. The black level/contrast ratio is similar to other edge-lit LED LCD models (as in, only OK), but it offers some of the best 3D I’ve watched at home. It also has plenty of light output if you want a bright, punchy image.
The $1,600 LG 55LA7400 is awarded 3.5/5 hearts.
Disclosure: The LG 55LA7400 reviewed is a manufacturer supplied production sample.
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