LG 60LB7100 LED TV Review
Despite some performance snags, webOS and a smart design carry this very attractive set.
With the growing ubiquity of 4K, ultra-high definition TV, the window for purchasing a full-HD television and still getting serious mileage out of it is closing. The LG 60LB7100 (MSRP $1,899.99) is a big, stylish LED TV that's packed with enough features to feel fresh for years. It's also not that pricey, but its performance leaves a lot to be desired for a TV of its class.
Still, a $1,900, 60-inch, 3D TV with LG's fantastic smart platform is a bargain. If you don't mind some blemishes on your TV and you're not planning on being an early adopter of 4K, the LB7100 is a viable option.
It cuts a fine feature if you can fit it on a table.
If you've been paying attention to LG's 2014 lineup, the LB7100's outfit won't come as a surprise, since nearly every TV in LG's catalog this year is sporting the same design. It's a TV that's both handsome and simple: two wide-set, angular feet cradling a thin, silver bezel that allows the picture to "pop" in front of the backdrop of whatever room it's in. A slight lack of practicality is the only design blunder here; although the wide-set feet don't pose a problem with a 39-inch model, the distance between the feet starts to command a presence at 60 inches. Make no mistake about it: This TV needs a wide surface. If you're considering the 65- or the 70-inch model, your days of balancing your TV on top of your cable box are over.
Once you've set up the LB7100–a process as simple as screwing its feet on and finding someone to help you lift it–you'll be rewarded with a sleek, minimalist TV that doesn't trade its lack of flashiness for an ability to impress. I have to hand it to LG: The design is modern without feeling flashy, complementing a room's design without dominating it. It won't stand out in a room, but that's the point.
On the back of the LB7100's mammoth panel you'll find back- and side-facing cut-outs containing the TV's myriad of connection ports. Users are graced with three HDMI inputs, three USB ports, an RS-232 mini-jack, shared component/composite inputs, a digital audio output, a coaxial RF connector, and a LAN ethernet port for accessing the internet. The LB7100 also ships with two pairs of 3D glasses and the company's "Magic Remote," but more on those later.
This TV features the best smart platform on the market.
In a year filled with disorganized, clunky smart platforms, LG's webOS is not only a breath of fresh air, it's one of the best attempts to streamline the smart experience that we've ever seen. Instead of dumping the entire platform into a main hub and calling it a day, LG provides users with a centralized hub and a personalized menu bar, the latter of which can be accessed without interrupting playback. This menu bar is the primary means of navigating through the available smart features, so I'm happy to report that it's a breeze to use.
One of the key features of webOS is the ability to navigate swiftly from any app to live TV, a Blu-ray, or another app without interrupting playback. For example, if you're watching a movie on Netflix but want to jump to a live football game, webOS will automatically hold your place in Netflix. Whenever you decide to finish the movie, you won't need to restart Netflix and fumble through its menus a second time.
There's also a variety of integrated search options that make it easy to see if the content you want is available via cable, satellite, or with any of the apps in webOS.
Of all the complimentary things I can say about webOS–from its versatility to its convenience–I was consistently impressed by the software's responsiveness. Thanks in part to LG's Magic Remote, navigation is silky smooth and hopping from one app to another is seamless. There's a distinct lack of lag from menu-to-menu, which can't be said for many smart platforms today.
If there's one downside to this set it's the clunky calibration settings. Although the LB7100 ships with a wealth of options for tweaking your picture, the haphazard TV's menu software renders them pretty much useless. For a more detailed explanation, check out our more in-depth Science & Testing page.
Not bad, not great
The LB7100 is a decent-looking set that is dogged by a few major flaws. The first thing I noticed in our lab was the LB7100's shallow black level, which wreaks havoc on a picture's ability to render detail, especially in darker areas of the picture. Compounding this issue is the LB7100's inability to produce bright highlights. Darker content might ultimately suffer from this lack of contrast.
Most edge-lit LED TVs suffer from a lack of screen uniformity, but the LB7100's screen is particularly troubling. These problem areas create black-and-white "clouds" on the picture that obfuscate detail, most notably when the the picture is extra dark or extra bright.
In terms of color reproduction, the LB7100 isn't perfectly accurate, but you'll hardly ever notice anything in normal use. I watched a documentary side-by-side with our reference TV and the only discernible difference was how the two TVs produced neutral shades like white and gray.
Big screens are made for group viewing, so there's nothing worse than a 60-inch TV that doesn't hold up from a wide viewing angle. Thankfully, the LB7100 provides a similar picture from a wide variety of angles. If you're planning on entertaining guests, fear not: this TV should ensure everyone's got a decent seat.
Mediocre picture, phenomenal value
Despite the 60-inch screen, the 3D capability, and the sleek, user-friendly smart platform, the LB7100's main attraction is its price tag. For around $1,900, LG is offering a huge TV loaded with features. The drawback here is the LB7100's middling performance compared to higher-end sets.
So how does the LB7100 stack up against this year's competitors? Well, for several hundred dollars less, Vizio's 60-inch M Series packs a formidable picture and comparable smart features. Sharp's 60-inch EQ10U is priced at around $1,700, but like the LB7100, its performance might leave you shrugging.
If you're comfortable shedding five inches off your ideal screen size, your best bet is without a doubt the Sony KDL-55W800B: It's a smart TV with phenomenal out-of-the-box performance and it's listed at around $1,500.
What the M Series, the EQ10U, and the W800B all lack, however, is webOS. Frankly, webOS has set the bar for smart platforms. It's natural, intuitive, and just feels right. So, while trained eyes might take a gander at the LB7100's picture and fuss over its shortcomings, they won't fuss over the price.
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