LG LW5600 Series HDTV Review: 3D, Connected, and More
At a Glance
(Editor's note: This review of the LG LW5600 Series is based on our hands-on testing and impressions from the 47-inch 47LW5600. According to the manufacturer, the image quality and features should be equivalent for each TV in this model line.)
The LG LW5600 Series more than holds its own in an increasingly competitive 3D TV field. This LED-backlit set delivers decent image quality, great connected-TV features, and a pleasurable passive-3D experience in an exceptionally eco-friendly package.
You'll find very little to quibble about with this handsome 1080p HDTV. Yes, the image quality could be a little better--in our juried tests, judges weren't superimpressed with its brightness and contrast, and several noted some uneven lighting that can be symptomatic of an edge-lit LED display. Also, the screen gets rather dark when not viewed head-on. Still, all scores were "Good" or better, and the LW5600 earned exceptionally high scores on our motion tests, proving that with good motion-handling technology, 120Hz is all you need for the refresh rate.
Also, you get plenty of help if you want to tweak your image quality, including a helpful basic calibration utility that presents you with images to try to match. LG provides seven video presets, including two that are user-customizable, and five audio presets (Standard/Music/Cinema/Game/Sports), plus image and audio presets for movies, gaming, and sports.
We don't do juried testing of 3D image quality, but I very much enjoyed watching Avatar: The Last Airbender on 3D Blu-ray with one of the four sets of polarized glasses that LG includes with the TV. The set immediately identified the content as 3D and switched to the proper format; the glasses are lightweight and fit comfortably over my own specs.
As on so many HDTVs, however, the LW5600's audio quality didn't particularly impress. The two 10-watt speakers delivered okay simulated surround sound in my tests with the Blu-ray Disc of Phantom of the Opera, but even turned all the way up, the volume wasn't that loud or enveloping.
In our power consumption tests, the LW5600 proved a real superstar. The 47-inch model averaged hourly consumption of only 56.4 watts when in use, and no visible consumption when turned off. We see very few sets that use this little power.
The LW5600 boasts the good looks we've come to expect in an LG set, with a transparent edge finishing off the black bezel. Touch-sensitive buttons on the bottom front edge let you change channels, inputs, and volume, and power the set on or off. (You can opt to turn off the power-on lighting in the settings.)
LG provides four side-facing HDMI ports and two USB ports (including one for connecting media stored on a USB drive); rear-facing ports include one component, one composite, and one combined (either component or composite) video port. (The latter accommodates either component cables that terminate in a single video and a single audio port, or composite cables that terminate in a single AV port.) You also get a headphone jack, PC audio and RGB inputs, digital (optical) audio out, ethernet and coax ports, plus a wireless control port that connects to an optional LG media box dongle (which lets you reduce cable clutter by connecting your video sources to the media box and beaming the AV signals wirelessly to the dongle).
The set also comes with a Wi-Fi adapter that you can plug into a USB port to connect to your home network, although a wired hookup using the ethernet port is better for most streaming media applications.
LG's Smart TV platform (formerly NetCast) provides plenty of media to stream, starting with an ample lineup of on-demand Web services including Netflix, Vudu, Hulu Plus, and YouTube. You can also access your Facebook and Twitter accounts, check out Yahoo Widgets, and download apps from the LG store. You must create an account with LG to enjoy these features.
LG's support for media playback includes not only the ability to play music, video, and still images stored on USB drives but to stream media from DLNA-enabled computers and other devices on your home network, a feature you don't see on many sets. File format support is robust for video, but image and audio formats are limited to JPG stills and DRM-free MP3 audio.
One highly innovative extra: In addition to its standard, full-size remote, LG provides a separate, so-called Magic Motion remote that works something like a Wii controller, using RF technology to provide easy point-and-click access to connected TV features. In my tests, the shoehorn-shaped device worked pretty well, although at times there was a bit of lag before the on-screen cursor responded to my movements.
The standard-sized remote, meanwhile, offers a full set of controls for all functions, and you can program it to control other devices. A quick-menu button offers easy access to popular on-screen menu items such as aspect ratio, image and audio presets, and the channel editor. The number of buttons can be a bit intimidating, but they are generally large enough to access comfortably, and one button lights them up in a dim room.
LG provides a large printed manual (also available online as a PDF), but it can be a bit difficult to find the information you need since the manual covers a couple dozen models of plasma and LCD TVs. In many cases this means wading through a handful of diagrams for a single task that's handled differently by different sets. The LW5600 comes with a separate short printed setup guide (not available online) that at least walks you through basics such as connecting devices.
With its imposing list of connected-TV features, DLNA support, and innovative second remote, the LW5600 should appeal to technology enthusiasts who will enjoy its many advanced features, but anyone seeking a moderately priced HDTV set with solid image quality and 3D support should also check it out.