LG 84LM960V £22500
19th Dec 2012 | 15:41
LG's huge Ultra HD TV
The LG 84LM960V is the first widely distributed Ultra HD resolution TV to launch in the UK, and measures a massive 84 inches.
This next generation television standard has yet to take off commercially, not least because the codec required to make it a manageable format for transmission and distribution hasn't even been standardised, but that's not about to stop TV makers eager to break new ground early.
Initially available in 10 stores, including John Lewis Sloane Square, Bentalls Kingston and Richer Sounds Southampton, the LG 84LM960V effectively redefines the high-end of the consumer TV market.
Offering a native panel resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, the LG 84LM960V foreshadows the next era of broadcasting tech, and at 84 inches it's comfortably the largest TV set that LG has ever sold. It's also ruinously expensive, but there's no doubting the quality of finish.
The TV ships with two remote controls - a generic LG IR zapper and the wand-style AN-MR300 RF Magic Remote. Plus it has a party pack of gaudy Passive 3D glasses - a pair of Passive clip-ons plus two Dual Play specs that enable simultaneous split screen gaming.
Of course, for £22,500 (around AU$34,943/US$36,645), though, you could be forgiven for expecting James Cameron to turn up to install it for you as well.
Despite its premium trappings, the LG 84LM960V sports much the same feature set as its Full HD stablemates. It offers an integrated smart TV portal, with network functionality and, of course, 3D.
The various catch-up and on-demand services available mirror those found elsewhere, but that's no bad thing. There's BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Lovefilm, YouTube, DailyMotion, Accu Weather, Picasa and a whole lot more - plus a variety of 3D content and causal games.
The TV offers two tuner choices, either standard Freeview HD or DVB-S2 satellite. The latter can be used with a Sky dish feed, and offers an uncurated channel listing that apes what you'll get from Freesat.
Back panel connectivity is solid. There are four HDMI inputs, three USBs, component via an adaptor, PC VGA and Ethernet. Only HDMI can be used to input a UHD 3840 x 2160 signal.
If you have a spare external USB hard drive, you can timeshift from the TV or use the drive as a cache for pausing and replaying live television. But of course, with only a single tuner available, this is more a convenience nicety than PVR replacement.
Naturally, the TV has integrated Wi-Fi too. There's also a Wi-Fi Share mode, which enables the use of Wi-Fi Direct and WiDi.
The LG 84LM960V performs the usual 2D to 3D conversion trickery, which is at its most effective with still images. Obviously the dimensional effect is somewhat unpredictable, but there's something delightfully ViewMaster about the results.
The big question is, of course, what's the LG 84LM960V like with Ultra HD (4K) content? Helpfully, we employed a media server with bespoke content to see the screen strut its UHD stuff.
The panel's ability to depict even tiny detail is quite amazing. The window-like clarity that Ultra HD affords is spellbinding.
The good news is that the screen does a rather fine job with Full HD too. The most obvious characteristic of up-conversion is smoothness; it's like watching low ISO 35mm film stock.
Even when movies and TV shows are viewed up close on this massive panel, there's no image deterioration at all. Colours are highly saturated, blacks deep and textures virtually tangible.
LG hasn't actually released any information about the chip solution used to upscale Full HD to Ultra HD. Does the picture processor remap to the denser pixel grid using a database of image information to help interpolate images? Can it exploit legacy high frequency information in the incoming signal? LG isn't saying.
The resident HD Resolution upscaler does appear to be a multi-chip solution, though, not least because of a micro-second delay involved in delivering content to the screen. The biggest casualty of this lag is video gaming.
The delay between trigger and action will hobble serious players. This is crying shame, since visually, HD games look brilliant on this big screen. The fine detail and dynamics of Battlefield 3 are simply mesmerising, and when you take to the skies, there's a strong chance you'll suffer motion sickness.
The set's 3D performance is also a revelation. Unlike vanilla-flavoured 1080p FPR screens, there's enough pixel power available here to maintain Full HD resolution even through polarised glasses, and there's precious few crosstalk effects when viewed head-on.
Usability, sound and value
The LG 84LM960V employs an off-the-shelf LG TV user interface. While this is a doddle to navigate, conveniently grouping online content into easily navigational blocks, there are issues when it's deployed on a screen of this size and resolution.
Most obviously, all the text and dialogue is freakishly large. What looks clear and friendly at 40 inches positively shrieks at twice the size.
It doesn't look particularly sharp either. It's not unreasonable to expect a UHD iteration of the familiar interface to be created for a screen of this size, especially when you're parting with more than £20k.
That aforementioned micro-second delay between command and on-screen response also makes navigating the menus a little less slick than might otherwise be the case.
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In the scheme of things, the TV's audio quality can be considered top notch. With two large woofers on the rear, running at 15w apiece, plus a couple of downward firing 2 x 10w speakers on the bottom of the screen, the set can go loud without getting shrill.
Indeed, the rear panel positively vibrates when there's high octane action playing out on the screen.
Given the price tag, any kind of value assessment of the LG 84LM960V seems somewhat academic. As a pioneering example of futuristic TV technology, this display is never going to form part of a BOGOF deal.
The R&D has to be recouped, and what better way than creating a statement display affordable only by the super-rich and well-heeled industry luminaries?
From a picture quality point of view, nothing else is remotely comparable. It's not unreasonable to expect Ultra HD panel prices to tumble quite rapidly though, as more brands brave the waters and content sources become available.
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There's no getting away from it: the LG 84LM960V is a hell of a harbinger of next gen TV tech. Visually it's a knockout, even without native Ultra HD content.
The immaculate solidity of its pixel-dense images is beguiling, whether you're watching upscaled Blu-ray 1080p/24 or HD TV at 1080/50i.
If this does indeed represent the future of television, then someone get Marty McFly on the phone. We want to borrow his DeLorean.
The LG 84LM960V's native Ultra HD performance is game-changing, and pixel-dense upscaled Full HD looks terrific. Even the beefy integrated audio system sounds great.
The pronounced lag takes the edge off serious gameplay, and a clumsy, oversized user interface undermines the sophistication of the proposition. If the TV's picture performance does have a weakness, it's with backlight uniformity issues. And then there's that numbing price tag.
The LG 84LM960V may be unfeasibly huge, but you'll want to sit close because it looks so good. As a Ultra HD future-proofed display, it's well ahead of its time. With Ultra HD content, the TV's fine detail performance is phenomenal.
Fingers crossed the incoming HEVC codec will maintain all this thigh-slapping clarity without any obvious sacrifices. The pixel-packed panel does a grand job of remapping Full HD too, and breathes startling life into contentious 3D, doing away with the resolution loss seen on regular passive 3D screens.
As a multimedia hub, the TV also cuts the mustard. LG's smart TV portal may not offer Ultra HD content (yet) but there's plenty of IP TV on tap, while network functionality is on the money. All things considered, this is a pretty easy behemoth to live with, even if the repayments are sure to sting.
When it comes to tomorrow's TV technology, there's obviously little else available at the moment. This big LG television's main rival is the Sony KD-84X9005, which sells for £25,000 in the UK (around AU$38,765) or $24,999.99 in the US, where it's known as the Sony XBR-84X900.
The Sony uses the same 84-inch Ultra HD FPR panel, sourced from LG Display, but uses its own proprietary electronics.
If Ultra HD isn't a priority but a huge screen is, consider Sharp's far more affordable 80-inch Aquos LC-80LE646, which is a snip at £4,000 (around AU$6,210/US$6,514).