LG 55LW5600 3D HDTV Review
LG’s LW5600 series represents one of the most significant HDTVs of 2011. It’s the first display to offer LG’s Cinema 3D technology with its Film Patterned Retarder (FPR). Unlike all 2010 LG plasma and LED LCDs, the 55LW5600 produces 3D images with the use of passive, circular polarized glasses. This is a departure from the active shutter glasses that use frame-sequential 3D as found in all prior Samsung, Sony, Panasonic and Toshiba 3D models.
LG touts its passive FPR 3D technology as superior to active 3D by claiming competitors’ products produce flickering, darker 3D images with crosstalk (seen as ghost images). LG also states its FPR Cinema 3D sets offer ‘Full HD 1080p resolution’ just like the competition.
We spent quite a bit of time examining this LG 5600 to verify their claims.
HD Guru published two prior articles explaining passive 3D here and here. Vizio introduced the first consumer passive 3D TV at the end of 2010. However, unlike this series LG, it uses a different 3D method called a glass patterned retarder which we found has different performance characteristics when compared to the LG.
Like previous LG models in the 55″ screen size, this model uses an LG-manufactured IPS LCD panel. It has side edge LED lighting divided into 16 horizontal zones with eight on the right side and eight on the left. We were immediately struck by the TV’s panel uniformity and wider vertical 2D viewing angle when compared to our recent test of the Samsung UN55D8000. This LED LCD’s bezels are wider than the Samsung design (1.56″ vs. 0.94″) but it’s overall depth is slightly thinner at 1.1″ (vs. 1.2″).
We like the thin form factor and prefered its gloss black bezel over Samsung’s silver. The (included) swivel table stand is also gloss black. We would gladly keep LGs wider bezel and far better screen uniformity over Samsung’s thinner bezel and worse uniformity, although we have no idea if one has anything to do with bezel width. Prospective purchasers with lamps or windows opposite the display will appreciate the anti-glare (dull) screen coating which very effectively cuts down on reflections.
The 5600 contains a full complement of inputs with four HDMI, two component video (one with a supplied dongle), two composite video inputs (one with supplied dongle), one Ethernet jack, RS-232, sub D 15 pin PC input and two USB ports.
LG includes a conventional remote control with a back light. We like the relatively large form factor along with adequately sized buttons. A minor gripe: the left, right, up, down ring around the enter button butts up against the ‘home” button directly above it, causing unintended pushes of the “home” key. Also included is a “Magic Remote” which operates like a Wii controller, where you tilt the remote to move an on-screen cursor. There is no QWERTY keyboard within either of the remotes.
The 55LW5600 is a Full HD 1080p LED LCD with 120 Hz refresh rate. There are a host of picture features including custom control of the 120 Hz motion estimation/motion compensation, five aspect ratios, and seven picture modes including two expert modes with their own picture memories. In addition, there are the usual picture controls such as color and tint along with adjustments for black level, real cinema (LG speak for 3:2 pulldown), backlight, color gamut (EBU, Rec. 709 and NTSC) color temperature, gamma, and fine tuning for gray scale and color management. There are also a number of energy savings modes. As usual we recommend these set at the off position as they affect overall picture quality. Besides, this set uses only 56 watts of power once calibrated, a new low consumption rate for a TV of this size.
The 55LW5600 includes streaming movies services, (Netflix, VUDU, CinemaNow, Amazon) Yahoo widgets, apps and other services (like MLB.com). LG’s open platform allows for new applications and other services. We liked the interface and found it easy to navigate.
There are three controls for the built-in 2D to 3D conversion: Depth (increases front to back distance), Correction (swaps left and right views, also useful if 3D content was authored incorrectly, though we have never seen this with any aired content) and Viewpoint (which moves the center of the 3D image back and forward).
LG thoughtfully includes separate memories for all picture settings in the 3D mode. They also include four pairs of passive 3D glasses. They are similar to what you get at the movie theater and are styled like those of Clark Kent. Polaroid and other companies are introducing fancier glasses; however we did not observe any performance difference switching between the LGs, a RealD movie theater pair, or a Polaroid pair.
The 55LW5600 performed admirably with the HQV standard definition test patterns. The detail, jaggies flag noise reduction, 3:2 pulldown, film cadence and mixed video titles and film tests were all passed. The 5600 sailed through the HQV high definition film detail and deinterlace tests too. Motion resolution came up to 900+ lines with the 120 Hz circuit engaged and about 330 lines with it off, consistent with other LED LCDs tested within the last few years. Image brightness clocked in at 89.9 ft-Lamberts in maximum Vivid mode and 38.8 ft-Lamberts after picture calibration.
The color temperature in factory default mode Warm mode was high: 7723K at 20 IRE and 7628K at 80 IRE. LG provides controls to tame the color temperature to get it closer to the industry 6500K standard.
HDTV color points were close to the Rec. 709 standard (noted in parenthesis) measuring:
Red x 0.649, y 0.335 (x 0.64, y 0.33)
Green x 0.309, y 0.615 (x 0.30, y 0.60)
Blue x 0.154, y 0.063 (x 0.15, y 0.06)
LG provides full color management to tweak the color points even closer to the HDTV standard.
Black level performance came in at 0.035 ft-Lamberts with the LED dimming circuit “off.” Set to its maximum position, black level dropped to 0.015 ftL. Black uniformity was good but not perfect, with a slight lightening on the right edge.
Being the first production FPR 3D TV we examined the LG against the company’s claims of high brightness, while being flicker free and crosstalk free and offering Full HD performance.
In terms of brightness, LG hits a home run with the brightest 3D image we’ve seen to date. The LW5600 measured a searing 103.3 ft lamberts using a 100 IRE signal in the 2D to 3D mode without glasses at maximum screen brightness. Shooting our Konica Minolta LS 100 through the LG supplied glasses yielded 38.4 ft lamberts maximum. We tweaked the image to make better picture, but the LG still yielded a record bright 3D reproduction. Score one for FPR technology.
We never observed any screen flicker, although we have not seen screen flicker on the Samsung or Panasonic 2011 active shutter designs recently tested either.
The crosstalk claim proved troublesome for a number of reasons. The church in Monsters vs. Aliens 3D Blu-ray produced a very slight amount of crosstalk, comparable to the Samsung UN55D8000 LED LCD, but more than the “crosstalk free” Panasonic TC-P50ST30 with the same source. However, unlike the active 3D designs, LG’s crosstalk “freedom” proved to be highly dependent on viewing angle.
To measure this, we created our own test using a protractor and string. With the help of my able assistant, the protractor was held at the center of the screen. The string was taped to middle of the protractor. Using this method we were able to determine that there was an increase in crosstalk when our eye level hit 10 degrees above screen dead center.
Next, we moved our viewing position to 30 degrees left-of-center to simulate a viewing position of the left cushion on a couch. The crosstalk began to increase at just 5 degrees above screen center. In other words, the more you move off axis to the side, the less you’ll be able to be above (or below) the set (think mounting it high on a wall). This increase in crosstalk was not observed in active shutter 3D displays at similar off-axis viewing angles.
As for Full HD, our observations contradicted the claim. Scan lines are clearly visible on alpha-numeric titles with 3D glasses on, even at our 10 ft. viewing distance. With non-graphic content the lines disappear at the same screen-to-eye position. While LG claims full HD resolution our observations call it one-half vertical resolution.
We are confident many buyers will find this good enough for 1080p Blu-ray content. However, DirecTV’s 3D channel N3D is side-by-side 1080i. In this case, N3D’s 960×1080 image will be a 960 x 540 image on the LG. ESPN HD is side-by-side 720p (640×720) yielding an image of less resolution than a DVD. We found the image on these channels good 3D, but not a detailed as seen on a “Full HD” display. Is it good enough? Ultimately that will be up to the buyer.
We really liked the signal processing, screen uniformity, color and pop of the 55LW5600’s 2D performance. We also appreciate the anti-glare screen coating. This HDTV makes some of the best 2D LED LCD images we’ve seen and find it quite compelling. While we have some reservations about the 3D resolution and viewing angles, when one takes into consideration its 2D performance, form factor and price along with the realization that most buyer’s total 3D viewing will be a fraction of the overall viewing time spent. We conclude the LG 55LW5600 should be on the short list for anyone looking for a really nice large screen HDTV.
The LG Infinia 55LW5600 55-Inch Cinema 3D is priced Amazon for $1799.98 with free shipping making it an outstanding value. The HD Guru awards the LG55LW5600 a ♥♥♥♥ out of 5 heart rating.
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