Review: LG 75″ 8K QNED99 Mini-LED TV Is Bright, Colorful And Feature Laden
Better late than never, we finally got a chance to review LG’s 2021 top of the LCD TV line 75-inch QNED 8K Mini-LED TV, and found a dazzlingly bright, colorful display with a nice assortment of useful on-board features.
The QNED99 series is a step above LG’s 8K QNED95 series, and includes models in the 65- ($2,440 street retail), 75- ($2,996.99 street) and 86-inch ($4.496.99 street) screen sizes. Note that as this is posted, pricing recently has been reduced for these models and this is a good time to pounce. If you are buying this primarily for the 8K benefits, we advise going no smaller than 75-inches for the best visual experience.
The QNED models mark LG’s first implementations of Mini-LED full-array backlight technology with many more zones of LED brightness control than the company’s Nano Cell and lesser-quality LCD models. Sadly, however, the system doesn’t entirely eliminate blooming/haloing issues, like LG’s OLED models do. We also observed some degree of shadow detail crushing.
We were impressed with the QNED series’ interesting new hybrid color filter technology comprised of both LG’s Nano Cells and quantum dots to produce brilliantly bright and accurate colors with high color volume.
As with its OLED models, LG’s QNED TVs provide a number of advanced gaming-oriented features including an assortment of four HDMI 2.1 inputs supporting high frame rate 4K/120 HDR10 and 4K/120 Hz Dolby Vision HDR. They also support Auto Low Latency Mode low lag performance.
Smart TV Interface
As with all of its step-up 4K and 8K TVs, LG has also updated it’s webOS 6.1 smart TV interface, which provides an improved look and feel to navigate a huge assortment of available streaming apps via voice control or the included updated LG Magic Remote. The new UI look features a full scrolling screen of supported apps and content recommendations instead of just a ribbon bar. LG also includes its own free ad-supported “LG Channels” live OTT streaming channel platform for cord cutters.
However, the company changed up the settings menu slightly in this webOS iteration, which takes some time getting used to, especially when looking for more technical information like network IP and Mac addresses.
LG has one of the most comprehensive systems of built-in calibration support, right down to available test patterns. Those who want to calibrate their models to fine-tune the picture to their particular viewing conditions will find LG and Portrait Displays recently upgraded the Calman Autocal calibration software to support LG’s 2021 models, and this continues to work quickly, smoothly and accurately.
8K Resolution Benefits
Before we go further, keep in mind that you are paying a premium to get 8K resolution (though at a bargain with this series compared to equivalent Sony and Samsung models), and the dearth of available native 8K content is something to take into consideration before making a technology investment of this kind.
At least for the next few years, we don’t expect anyone will have access to much native 8K content. Today you’ll find a limited selection of mostly test sample material on YouTube and little else. The 75-inch 75QNED99 we tested played back both native AV1 8K/24p streaming samples (the Sony Z9K 8K TV would not play these without down-rezing to 4K) from the YouTube app resident in the set’s webOS platform. It also played 8K/30p MP4 streaming samples from online downloads played from the set’s USB port.
The high resolution enhanced details nicely, and added some degree of 3D depth to backgrounds. But even on a 75-inch screen viewed up close the grayscale resolution benefits are subtle and not always apparent. But the combination of a high number of Mini-LED local dimming zones and new hybrid Nano Cell/Quantum dot color enhancement system contributed to the set’s overall image brilliance enhanced by the additional on-screen pixel details.
Going forward, 8K prices are going to come down, and native support of 8K streaming codecs and frame rates are going to improve. Fortunately, LG’s powerful Alpha 9 Gen 4 processor does an excellent job of upscaling 4K and lower-resolution content to present clean, clear images with nice color balance on the native 120Hz 8K IPS LCD screen.
For anyone looking for one of the better 8K displays armed with a lot of the latest bells and whistles, this is a relative bargain right now and worthy of your consideration. Keep in mind you will find brighter models with somewhat better dark shadow detail handling and fewer blooming issues from equivalent Samsung (Neo QLED Q900A) and Sony (Z9J) series 8K Mini-LED TVs, but you’ll pay more for them.
The LG QNED99 series offers an attractive upscale cosmetic design that includes a narrow bezel border and an included stand consisting of metallic claw-style feet positioned toward the far right and left ends of the screen. These provide enough clearance for most soundbars to be positioned on the mounting surface in front of the TV without significant obstruction of the picture. The 75-inch model we tested measures almost 66 inches wide and 38 inches tall. It weighs a hefty 82 pounds.
The stand is sturdily attached to the base and back of the screen and combined with the significant weight of the display this prevents any dangerous degree of screen wobble, if nudged from the back or front of the screen.
Optionally, the panel can be mounted on a wall, but due to the weight of the bigger models, a very sturdy mounting bracket is recommended. LG offers an optional slim-profile mounting bracket for the 75- and 86-inch models, but this won’t work for the 65-inch. Especially for these bigger sizes, we strongly recommend a professional installation, unless you have some degree of expertise in carpentry and a team of helpers to lift and position the display.
For tabletop placement, the back of the TV is made of metal but rather plain in appearance. LG provides clips on the back of the screen and channel guides on the feet to manage cables without annoying wire clutter viewed from the front. This is not an OLED-like ultra-thin panel, but at 1.53-inches thick, looking at the TV from the side doesn’t present an unsightly behemoth, either.
As in the past, LG supplies its Magic Remote to navigate the on-screen webOS interface. We think this is one of the better TV remote solutions on the market, providing the option to use an air-mouse-like cursor to click on apps by merely pointing the remote at them. Alternatively, the user can switch to a more traditional app highlighting selection method.
The remote includes a selection of fast-access app buttons for: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and LG Channels. LG also builds a button-activated mic into the remote (as well as hands-free far-field mics in the TV) to operate program searches and control some limited TV functions using spoken commands. LG supports Alexa, Google Assistant and its own voice platform through the remote’s mic. Upon first use of the mic button, the TV will ask if you want to turn on the built-in hands-free mics. This will enable making certain commands by simply speaking “Hi LG” as an activation trigger before calling for the desired task.
The LG 75QNED99U incorporates four HDMI 2.1 inputs supporting up to 48 Gbps speed for up to 4K/120Hz high frame rate content. One HDMI input supports ARC/e-ARC high-bandwith audio throughput to external audio products. Other connections support an IR Blaster, RS-232C control, coaxial antenna/cable connections, optical audio out, Ethernet, and three USB ports. These are divided into two locations on the set back (facing down) and side (facing out to the side) of the left end (facing the front of the TV) of the screen.
HDR and Contrast Performance
The LG QNED99 series, like most LG 4K and 8K televisions, support the HDR10, Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) and Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR) profiles. This series adds the new Dolby Vision IQ system that automatically adjusts the display settings when playing Dolby Vision content based on lighting conditions in the room. This will help reduce screen glare, boost shadow detail and make other picture optimizations.
The full-array Mini-LED backlit system uses thousands of miniature LEDs positioned across the full back plane of the screen. The 86-inch model is said to have 30,000 mini-LEDs and 2,500 local dimming zones. The LEDs are arranged in local dimming zones to provide greater control of bright and dark image details affording brighter highlights and finer details of objects in shadowed scene areas. We counted more than 1,700 dimming zones on the 75-inch model. The numbers of mini-LEDs and dimming zones vary by screen size.
The LG 75QNED99U generated almost 1,173 nits of peak HDR brightness, which is excellent for a screen this size. For reference, the Ultra HD Alliance’s recommended threshold for a premium HDR LCD TV is 1,000 nits. Specular highlights (points of high brightness like reflections of sunlight in chrome objects) were dazzling, and skin tones after calibration were nicely warm and natural in appearance.
In dark room viewing from an optimal viewing angle, the television produces dark inky black. We measured 0.0208 nits black level from the center of a pattern of concentric rings of ever-brightening gray, and zero nits from a 100% black screen pattern.
However, we did see some evidence of shadow detail crushing, when viewing the upscaled Full HD Blu-ray version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows vol. 2. In the scene where Valdemort stands atop a mountain peak surrounded by his army of dark wizards, the faint gray clouds that encircle the group virtually disappear into the surrounding darkness. This scene causes problems in different ways with a number of different 4K and 8K sets. Often the white clouds come across as amorphous black blobs. But with this set they just don’t appear in the darkness.
As stated, anyone considering the purchase of an LG QNED model will need to consider the technology’s blooming/haloing issues that can be seen surrounding bright objects against black or dark backgrounds in certain scenes when looking at even slight angles to the screen.
LG uses LCD panels based on In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology to get a better color and contrast performance from wider viewing angles, and while it achieves this mission to a degree, the technology produces some issues with blooming — a milky aura that appears around bright objects in dark settings.
This is very visible in certain darkly lit content. For example, when viewing the moving starfield patterns on the Spears & Munsil Ultra HD Benchmark disc, blotches of milky white appear as faint stars gain brightness while moving into the frame. Ironically, the test pattern is often used for showing one of the major picture quality benefits of LG’s self-emitting OLED TV models that don’t rely on LED backlighting.
The issue becomes apparent almost immediately when standing up from a seated viewing position in front of center screen. The condition seems to worsen with varying amounts of ambient light hitting the screen at left or right angles.
The best way to view this set is with controlled room lighting seated directly in front of center screen. This will make the issue less obvious.
Much of the issue is minimized when seated in the optimal viewing position front and center of the screen. Also, with ambient light on in the room, we did pick up some distracting screen reflections. The condition is reduced as the scene brightens, however.
LG’s hybrid Nano Cell/Quantum Dot color enhancement system does a remarkable job of boosting the vibrancy, detail and volume of color, particularly with HDR10 and Dolby Vision content. The technology is said to combine the use of Nano Cell color and Quantum Dot emitting layers for more accurate and wider color gamut support. The QNED system employs a blue LED backlight which sends photons to the green Quantum Dot layer and the red Nano Cell layer to produce a wider and more accurate boost in overall color performance than using LG’s Nano Cells alone.
We measured the 75QNED99U covering 93.8% of the 1931 xy DCI-P3 color space and 96.7% of the 1976 uv DCI-P3 color space. The Ultra HD Alliance sets a minimum threshold of 90% of the P3 gamut to qualify as a “premium” UHD LCD TV. The QNED99’s performance was somewhat lower than we found on the more expensive Samsung QN900A 8K Mini-LED Neo QLED 8K model.
Nevertheless, in real-world viewing, color volume was excellent, as seen in the multiple green hues that come through in foliage lit by the sun from behind in the rain forest scenes from the Ultra HD Blu-ray of Planet Earth II.
Color of Rec. 709 Full HD content was similarly well handled and natural looking, though lacking the vibrancy and clarity of better resolution source material, as would be expected.
Upconversion, Motion Handling, Noise Reduction
The LG 75QNED99 did an ,overall nice job of upscaling non-8K content to fill the 7,680 horizontal and 4,320 vertical pixels on the screen. Native 4K 3820×2160 content was especially bright, colorful and sharp, especially when HDR is applied. Lower-resolution content loses some of its vibrancy and sharpness, as we would expect, but this is in part due to the large screen size, and is something all 8K displays face to one degree or another. There’s only so much that can be processed with less picture information in the native source material. Sony’s processing handles this the best, but at a significant cost difference.
Motion smoothing and the 120Hz native refresh rate panel handle motion artifacts well for most live and recorded 4K and Full HD broadcast content, although for movies the set is equipped with a recommended Filmmaker Mode. Once set to this picture mode, the TV will turn off motion processing to optimize the presentation to most closely resemble the look of 24 frame per second film-based content, as it would look in a theater. This is the way most content producers prefer you watch their creations.
We found the set did an acceptable job upscaling Full HD Blu-ray content containing a lot of low-light background noise, as seen in the opening harbor scenes of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. Here unnatural image background noise was smoothed somewhat without removing the natural film-grain elements that filmmakers typically prefer.
Gray screen uniformity was relatively clean without much dirty screen effect, however we noticed a slight green shift in the brighter range of HDR gray scale color bars. This didn’t seem to come through in any distracting way viewing real world content.
Black screen uniformity was very good. Keep in mind that screen uniformity tends to vary from panel to panel, and your experience might be different in the panel lottery.
The LG 75QNED99U offers relatively low input lag of 1080p/60p and 4K/60p content measuring about 14ms in game mode. LG offers in this series its Game Optimizer that automatically applies the best picture settings for the type of the game being played. Gamers can also make certain picture adjustments on the fly to improve competitive advantage. As mentioned, the set has 4 built-in HDMI 2.1 inputs and is listed as supporting up to 48 Gbps speeds. The series also supports Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), but it won’t support the different variable refresh rate support systems as LG’s OLED TVs will.
Over The Air Broadcast Tuning
If you are interested in tuning in free over-the-air broadcasts, this series only supports the ATSC 1.0 standard digital tuner. To see new ATSC 3.0 NextGenTV broadcasts starting to go on air around the country now, you’ll need to buy a third-party outboard set-top tuner adapter.
The LG 75QNED99U has a nice 4.2-channel, 60 Watt on-board sound system, which presents clear dialog and large impactful sound effects. However, the overall tone is a little boxy and narrow compared to what is possible with a good quality add-on soundbar or a multi-channel AVR with a surround sound speaker setup.
LG includes in the set what it calls AI Acoustic Tuning which adjusts the sound to the unique configuration of the room. Another system called AI Sound Pro separates and clarifies speech and other types of sound.
The television offers one HDMI port with e-ARC support that allows passing through larger-bandwidth surround sound formats — like Dolby Atmos with Dolby True HD Surround — for decoding by external audio components. It does not support the DTS:X system, however. Internally, the television will use Dolby Atmos information in supported content to expand the sound stage somewhat using the set’s speaker system, but this does not add much in the way of noticeable over-head effects.
Despite the dearth of 8K content, there are a number of reasons for considering the purchase of an 8K TV today, and this model in particular. First and foremost, if you want all of the best bells and whistles available in a television set, most manufacturers are putting them in 8K models now. With a few exceptions, these elite feature sets are leaving the 4K model ranges. This applies to, for example, all of the best AI video and audio processing technology, the brightest image-boosting systems and the best color. LG is a bit of an exception, in that it puts a lot of its best features in its OLED models — both 4K and 8K — but OLED sets measuring above 65-inches can be expensive, and typically won’t get this bright.
But if you are adverse to the risk of image retention (burn-in) that OLED TVs can present when used improperly, and want the brightest pictures possible, Mini-LED is the best alternative and 8K models are at the top of that class. Though still expensive, the pricing on 8K TVs today has come down considerably, and right now you’ll find some very good deals on this series.
For what you will pay, we found the QNED99U series produces dazzling bright and colorful 8K and upscaled 4K pictures, and is well suited to movies and live sports. The audio system is very good, although at this price we expect most people will go with a soundbar or home theater surround sound system. LG’s webOS smart TV system keeps getting better and better and the updated Magic Remote offers a variety of ways to control the television in a manner that is most comfortable for you.
8K content will be coming, and the chances are that the best way to enjoy it will be via streaming. Given the limited amount of content available for testing, the LG QNED99U appears to handle the most commonly used codecs today. Be warned, however, that more codecs and systems will be coming in the future and we don’t know if any these (like VVC, EVC etc) will be supportable via future firmware updates (probably not).
The LG 75QNED99 Series 8K TV isn’t for everyone. But if you are looking for the best, have the resources but don’t want to spend top dollar on an 8K television today, this is a very good option.
We therefore award the LG 75QNED99 8K Mini-LED Nano Cell/Quantum Dot TV, 4.5 out of 5 hearts.
The LG 75QNED99U TV used for this review was a company loan.
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By Greg Tarr
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