LG 55LB5900 LED TV Review
Looking for a barebones big screen TV for under $700?
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Sometimes you just want a big screen.
The LG 55LB5900 (MSRP $799.99, online for $599.99) isn't a 4K TV and doesn't connect to the internet. In fact, the 55LB5900 has just as many additional features as its entry level compadre, the 32LB560B: none.
But the story here is its massive, 55-inch panel. If a screen that size doesn't entice you, the LB5900 is available in 47- and 50-inch models, as well as a 60-inch version.
Make no mistake: The appeal of this TV is its relatively affordable 55-inch screen. If bells and whistles are what you're after, this isn't the road you want to go down. The 55LB5900 is a middle-of-the-road, big-screened giant that's not going to send you to the poor house.
Looks & Experience
We’re gonna need a bigger table.
Although the 55LB5900 has the same principal design elements as the rest of LG’s 2014 entry- and mid-level TV lineup, this TV might prove to be a difficult one to place on a table; the wide-set, angular feet are a bit too wide-set beneath a panel of this size. Make sure you have a big enough surface to place the TV on (at least six feet across) if you’re not planning on mounting it on the wall.
Size troubles aside, the LB5900 is an attractive looking TV. The screen is framed by a thin, gunmetal gray bezel that puts the TV’s picture centerstage, and the minimal, two-footed stand design doesn’t detract from the mammoth screen.
On the back of the LB5900’s 55-inch panel is a relatively small cutout that houses the TV’s connectivity options: two HDMI ports, shared component/composite video inputs, RS-232C, a USB port, a digital audio output, and a coaxial jack.
Two HDMI inputs for a TV of this stature is a bit meager, to say the least; TVs of this size and price range ordinarily offer at least three HDMI ports. Frankly, anything less than three on a TV like the 55LB5900 feels a little stingy.
The 55LB5900 doesn’t offer LG's smart platform, webOS, so it ships with the same remote we’ve been using for over a year now. It’s a basic, unglamorous remote, but what it lacks in style it makes up for in responsiveness. Coupled with LG’s speedy, no-nonsense menu software, there is remarkably little sluggishness, especially compared to other basic, entry-level remote controls.
Right hand push remote, left hand shrug shoulder
From a performance standpoint, the 55LB5900 is peculiar. The TV tends to under-saturate red while over-saturating its blues, creating a picture that just doesn't feel right; it's not immediately apparent, but you can certainly tell that things are off.
Watching Looper on the 55LB5900 was a frustrating endeavor for this reason. Although the sultry red and orange tones of the movie's warmer settings lacked a little "pop," the bluer elements of the film's palette were too rich, coating the picture in a glossy, bluish hue.
Although the 55LB5900 gets pretty darn bright (more about that on the Science page), the TV doesn't get very dark. A mediocre black level means a less-detailed picture, and no where is it more apparent than a movie with a good amount of darker sequences.
On the 55LB5900, when Joseph Gordon-Levitt's "Joe" appears before a corn field at dawn, his figure appears to be a silhouette. On a TV with a richer black level, however, more detail comes through in Joe's clothes, facial features, and hair.
This is precisely why we stress the importance of a deep black level. When you lose that much detail in the picture, what you're looking at is no longer representative of what was originally filmed.
The 55LB5900's motion performance is nothing to write home about, but I've certainly seen worse. Given the TV's size, minor hiccups in motion might be significantly more noticeable, so keep that in mind if you're planning on tuning in for a good amount of sports broadcasts.
In general, I find the 55-inch LB5900 to be an appropriate TV for cable TV and gaming. Blu-rays won't look their best on this thing, but you get what you pay for.
Before you buy the LG 55LB5900, take a look at these other televisions.
A solid deal if you're only in it for the screen
Despite its shortcomings, I'm not sure there's a better, competitively-priced 55-inch TV than the 55LB5900. If there is, I haven't seen it.
This is not to say that the 55LB5900 is a great TV; words of praise that extend beyond "decent" should probably not be trusted. That said, this is a massive TV that can be purchased right now for a hair under $600. Some might consider that alone to be a victory, so if you couple that with the fact that the LB5900's performance isn't a complete disaster, you've got a winning recipe for value. How much value that recipe yields is entirely up to you.
As far as alternatives go, the Vizio E550i-B2—the 55-inch version of Vizio's 2014 E Series—can be purchased for around $720. This is significantly more expensive than the 55LB5900, but consider the fact that the Vizio comes equipped with a smart platform. That may seem like a worthy upgrade, but you can easily get all those smart features with a streaming box.
If the 55LB5900 is still calling to you, our only advice would be to temper your expectations and enjoy just how far this LG will stretch your dollar.
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