televisions

LG 47LM8600 LED TV Review

47 in.

The LM8600 series is the second tier in LG's 2012 line-up of LCD HDTVs. It handles bright, vivid content well, but struggles to produce deep black levels.

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Overview

The LG 47LM8600 (MSRP $2299) is a high-end LCD television with 3D tech and smart capabilities. This series is second tier in LG’s 2012 line-up, and comes with many of the same features as their flagship series: thin bezels, thin panels, passive 3D, LG’s smart platform, and the continuously evolving Magic Remote.

While we’d like to tear this TV down from its pedestal, it’s actually quite good. Though the extraneous features—smart content and 3D—are sort of old hat at this point (they’ve been the same for every 2012 LG), the LM8600’s core color and contrast performance, coupled with its elegant design, make it a viable buy. Unfortunately, screen performance errors hurt its overall value.

Design & Appearance

This 47-inch edge-lit HDTV is certainly attractive and sleek.

It perches atop a curved branch stand, making use of thin silvered bezels to put all its emphasis on its equally thin panel. The stand allows mild swiveling of about 15° to the left or right; its curvature and matching coloration to the panel make it a fitting companion.

We’re not too impressed by this TV’s appearance, but only because we’ve seen about twenty of them over the last year. In late 2011, LG adopted this design, and has stuck with it since. Within the television market, it’s a design that says “I’m an LG television. I’m modern and expensive, and I do a million things.” This is definitely not a bad thing.

There's some function here to match all of the puffed up form. Tweet It

There’s some function here to match all of the puffed up form. LG makes use of a compact input interface to hide all of your connectivity choices on the back or side of the TV, leaving the front clean and simple. They also have a habit of compressing component and composite inputs into splitter cables, which saves space and simplifies labeling. We wish more manufacturers would do this.

The first set of inputs are located along the TV’s left side. Here, users will find three USB 2.0 inputs (two for USB sticks, one for an external hard drive). Media stored on USB drives can be played back through the TV’s screen/speakers, and this is the area where such devices are plugged in. There are also four HDMI inputs.

The rest of the inputs are located on the back of the TV. These ports are clearly labeled and well-organized, and are oriented vertically. Here, users will find a coaxial cable jack, a composite input (via included splitter), a component input (via included splitter), digital audio out for an external speaker source, a VGA (D-sub) input for connecting a PC, a separate audio in for a PC, and an input for an ethernet cable (LAN).

Picture Quality

At an MSRP of over $2,000...... this TV should be delivering a great picture alongside all of its bells and whistles.

Fortunately, it does. Colors are very accurate, showing no banding nor loss of detail in shadows or highlights. The 47LM8600 struggled a bit to maintain consistent color temperature across its entire greyscale input, but most of its errors won’t be highly visible: those that are rest in the blackest shadows. We found an average contrast ratio, which was skewed by black levels that approach dark-greys—perhaps the only major drawback to this TV’s core performance. Film buffs should take note.

Where it struggles to keep up is in its screen performance. Like other LGs before it, its viewing angle is fairly narrow, and its ability to handle motion is poor. Almost any moving object is going to be blurry unless you turn on the TruMotion 240Hz setting, which risks making content look unnaturally fluid. The bright backlight makes for poor uniformity too, and all four corners showed light bleed-in.

The take-away here is the poor black levels and poor uniformity. This isn’t really a TV for gaming or film watching, but it makes bright, vivid content look great.

Software & Features

The 47LM8600 is well-endowed in software options and internet features.

The most notable feature is LG’s Home Menu smart platform, which is their headquarters for all things apps, widgets, and streaming.

The biggest companion to your LG’s functionality is the Magic Remote, an infrared-based motion remote. We think the idea is great on paper, but have some qualms about the remote’s functionality. It doesn’t speed up the typing process, and in fact is so sensitive that it makes many functions—from grabbing apps to adjusting brightness—more difficult than they would be on a different interface, with a different remote.

Don't buy this TV for its smart content. Tweet It

LG’s content offering is second only to Samsung, the industry leader in smart TVs. It’s not a bad package purchase, but don’t buy this TV for its smart content. The average smart phone dances circles around it.

LG makes use of passive 3D technology, meaning the glasses need no batteries or charging to work. The LM8600 ships with six pairs, so you’ll have plenty to use. The 3D itself is on the “light” side, meaning that the depth of field is more shallow than it would be were the LM8600 an active 3D TV.

It looks good enough: The shallow depth of field means there’s rarely any crosstalk (ghosting), and the color and contrast performance don’t suffer too much during 3D viewing—in fact, contrast improves. The 2D-to-3D converter, which is meant to turn natural 2D content into “almost 3D” content, does what it says, but doesn’t impress.

Final Thoughts

The 47LM8600 is a solid modern LED HDTV, and it should be for an MSRP of $2,299. This is one of those 2012 models that’s a smorgasbord of features and extras: the Magic Remote, elegant design, passive 3D, expansive smart content, six free pairs of glasses, and the ever-growing app store mean you’ll likely be entertained tinkering with its options and features for a couple of weeks after purchase. Don’t run out and buy it yet, though.

The LM8600 is a very color-true television, especially for an LCD. Its color gamut was almost perfect, and it tested with smooth, even color curves. It did, however, showcase some visible color temperature errors that a picture box this pricey ought not to. Its contrast ratio was about average, and its black levels were very bad (more like grey levels, really). If you’re a fan of shadowy films or survival horror video games, steer clear.

Speaking of video games, this LG has some problems with motion. The complex stuff—color trailing, artifacts—were nowhere to be found, which is a good sign, but even basic motion content gets blurry very quickly. This hurts the LM8600’s abilities as a gaming or sports TV, which is sort of a second strike against it.

Overall, if you’re going to buy this TV, buy it because you want bright, accurate colors and also want 3D and smart content. If you just want a 3D TV, there are cheaper ones. If you just want a good picture, there are models without all the bells and whistles. The LM8600 is a solid buy, but it isn’t an immediate draft pick.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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