This late in the year it's rare for jaded TV reviewers like me to be surprised one way or the other by the picture quality of a TV, but LG's LM7600 threw me for a loop. I was expecting the same kind of lackluster picture I experienced with the LM6700 series, which seems nearly identical on paper, but the 7600's image was clearly better. It even outperformed the company's significantly more expensive flagship model, the LM9600. Don't ask me why, because I don't know.
Improved picture quality vaults the LM7600 into the small club of highly recommendable LED TVs this year. It packs in an excellent feature set, including a motion-control remote, extensive Smart doodads, and enough 3D glasses to outfit a large family. It also has one of the most handsome designs I've ever seen in a television. Yes, the LM7600 costs more than many of its competitors, particularly the excellent Vizio M3D0KD, the very good Sharp LC-LE640U, and a few of the best plasmas, but it might be worth the dough to people seeking a cutting-edge LED TV with all the fixins' and a good picture.
Series information: I performed a hands-on evaluation of the 47-inch LG 47LM7600, but this review also applies to the other screen size in the series. The two sizes have identical specs and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality.
We've lauded the designs of LG's higher-end LED TVs this year and the LM7600 is another beautiful example. The vanishingly thin bezel around the screen makes the TV seem nearly all picture, and the few areas that are visible exude elegance, from the black frame touched with silver edging to the sweeping U-shaped stand. It's tough to distinguish the LM7600 from the equally nice-looking flagship LM9600, and both deserve our highest score in this category.
The winning design also extends to LG's unique motion-sensitive remote -- the only clicker on the market that's actually fun to use. LG doesn't include a normal remote with the LM7600; the little wand replaces a standard multibutton remote's cursor with Nintendo Wii-like motion control. You wave it at the TV and an onscreen cursor follows your movements precisely, allowing quicker selection of menu items and easier navigation in general. Responses were swift and the motion control effortless.
The company's 2012 interface makes compelling use of motion control with multiple "cards" on the home screen: a live TV window and an ad below, a non-customizable Premium card of the best Smart TV apps, a card for 3D World, and another for LG Smart World. You can also create customizable cards with shortcuts to various menu items (but not individual apps). There's also a My Apps bar along the bottom of the screen where you can place shortcuts to menus, functions, and certain apps in any order.
The remote also has a scroll wheel that's a good idea executed poorly. It won't work on the settings menus, and scrolling during live TV while watching an external device caused an annoying message asking whether I wanted to change to the TV/antenna input. People who actually use the antenna might miss having numeric keys on the remote, but I didn't.
Previously I've complained that the motion remote suffered in comparison with a real universal clicker like those from Harmony, but the LM7600 makes it possible to control your other devices using an IR blaster built into the TV and controlled by the little wand. I didn't test this functionality for this review, however.
|Key TV features|
|Display technology||LCD||LED backlight||Edge-lit with local dimming|
|Screen finish||Glossy||Remote||Motion control|
|Smart TV||Yes||Internet connection||Built-in Wi-Fi|
|3D technology||Passive||3D glasses included||6 pairs|
|Refresh rate(s)||240Hz||Dejudder (smooth) processing||Yes|
The LM7600 comes packed chock-a-block with most of LG's high-end extras. The important one in my book is its LED+ local-dimming scheme, designed to improve black levels by selectively dimming parts of the edge-lit LED backlight. Unlike on the similarly equipped LM6700, this feature actually seems to lend some improvement.
The other difference between this LG and the step-down 6700 series is refresh rate, which is 120Hz on the 6700 and 240Hz on the 7600. According to LG, the LM6700 uses a 60Hz panel with a scanning backlight for what the company calls "Black Dimension Insertion" and claims is a 120Hz effect. The LM7600 has a 120Hz panel, which combined with a scanning backlight equals, per LG, 240Hz. The LM7600 also offers the option to engage smoothing (dejudder) processing.
Meanwhile the step-up LM8600 offers a dual-core processor and the option to use voice commands, as well as what LG says is improved video processing via its "resolution upscaler Plus." I doubt if any of those extras will be worth the difference in price to most buyers.
LG's passive 3D system means the company can afford to include more pairs of 3D glasses than its active-3D competitors, so the LM7600 comes with six, count 'em, six pairs. On the off chance that you need more, most cheap polarized 3D glasses should work.
Smart TV: LG revamped its Smart TV interface again this year, and while we prefer the simplicity of Panasonic's menus, LG's outdo the others in terms of customization and making favorite apps easy to access. I also appreciated that the motion remote worked with Netflix, YouTube, and Vudu (I didn't test other apps).
The company's content selection is solid aside from two missing staples: Amazon Instant for video and Pandora for audio. The major apps I'd characterize as worthwhile are mostly grouped in the Premium section (don't worry, they're free) and include new entrant Rhapsody. The 3D World section has a few demos, clips, and full programs.
The app store, separate from the main Premium section, is now called LG Smart World for some reason, and as usual it holds mostly junk, with a few useful additions like NBA Game Time/Game Center and XOS College Sports. Unfortunately, downloading even free apps from the World requires you to create an ID and password. LG includes a Social Center with Twitter and Facebook feeds placed alongside the live TV image. There's also a search function that checks apps, DLNA sources, and YouTube, but the only Premium service it hits is Vudu (not Netflix or any others).
I consider LG's browser the best TV-based version so far that doesn't involve a keyboard. The combination of motion remote and scroll wheel worked like a charm, and even bulky Web pages like CNET loaded quickly enough to not be completely annoying. It was still slow, though; and using an onscreen keyboard was incredibly annoying despite motion control. As usual, any decent phone, tablet, or PC will provide a better browsing experience.
Picture settings: LG offers its usual scads of picture adjustments, with two Expert modes in addition to numerous other adjustable presets. The 20-point grayscale adjustment is overkill in my opinion (I prefer 10 points) and didn't work well in testing. While the color management system worked OK, it wasn't as accurate as last year's. Full control of picture options is available for streaming-video sources.