LG 47GA6400 Google TV Review
LG's GA6400 Google TVs are not for the feature-shy.
LG is a 66-year old company that has dabbled in everything from toothpaste to escalators, but today we're talking TVs— smart TVs. The Korean company's GA6400 (MSRP $1349.99) series caters to tech-hungry gadgeteers—not picture purists. LG employs voice and gesture controls, a spin wheel for scrolling, and even a full keypad on the back of the remote—so for once, web on a TV is not a complete hellscape. And unlike last year's G2 Google TV, this one can interact with your cable box for you. There's so much to play with, you could almost forget this machine's principle function. Look! 3D! Tech-nerds will feel like they have died, and Googled their way to smart-TV heaven.
Beyond the feature circus is a decent television, too. Yet most of what you pay for here is a rad feature set—not prize-winning picture quality. The G3 is a perfect centerpiece to the fully-connected, tech-heavy home.
Sharp and well-connected, with just the right amount of flash
The GA6400 is a looker. The gunmetal grey bezels are less than two centimeters wide, and a shiny silver trim flits along the outermost borders of the entire display. A uniquely formed metal stand with gentle curves and a quiet brushed finish poses modestly below.
The design is more than just attractive, though—it's intelligent too. The TV swivels easily from side to side, and go-to ports sit conveniently on the left edge, facing out for effortless access; included here are four HDMI ports, three USB hookups, and an inlet for the much-loved IR Blaster (more on this below). The remaining ports are on the back of the same left side, and facing the floor; these include a 3.5mm headphone jack, a coaxial antenna in, an optical digital audio out, a shared component/composite in, and a LAN hookup.
But our favorite design feature is undeniably the TV's remote. LG's Magic Remote lives up to its name, sporting a dedicated button for the very effective voice controls, a "gesture" button that activates motion-sensing properties, a wheel for scrolling webpages, and a full keypad for typing out words and phrases. We love this remote.
Smart TV Features
A real feature beast
In the way of features, this TV is a bit of a beast. One of its most formidable feature fangs? The IR Blaster that interacts with your cable box. For years, television-watchers have griped about the pile of remotes under the coffee table, but kiss the Comcast controller goodbye; this TV talks to the cable box so you don't have to. With a click of a button, users can say, "ESPN channel," and voilà! Men in stretchy pants appear, throwing footballs. The IR Blaster cables need to be quite close to the cable box in order to get a signal, though. Additionally—and this is a tip the manual doesn't bother to share—if you just say "ESPN," the TV sends you to the web. You must say "ESPN channel" if you want the television station. Lastly, if something goes wrong, the TV won't tell you. You may say "Cartoon Network channel," and the TV remains disobediently on ESPN; it doesn't tell you why, but we figured out that it was because the IR Blaster was too far from the cable box.
As for the smart platform itself, it functions quickly and it looks great, too. With the exception of HuluPlus, most of the apps you want are there: Amazon Video, Netflix, HBO Go, YouTube, and several others. Best of all, with a press of the voice button on the remote, users can say a movie or show title and the TV tells you: if that movie is currently on live TV, whether it will be soon, whether it's available on Netflix, and where to buy or rent and for how much. Shopping for a movie across different platforms is easy as pie.
The Google Play store constitutes a silly, abbreviated selection with made-for-TV apps like Solitaire and PapiTrampoline. We found a couple of fun ones, such as Dragon, Fly!, but for the most part, users will only want this store for access to movies and shows. But the TV comes with several useful apps, too; Google's Chrome browser works surprisingly well, thanks to the remote's magic wand gesture controls, its scroll wheel (which only works on web pages), and its voice command button. The biggest perk, though, is the full Qwerty keyboard, for fast, comfortable typing. For the first time, I found myself strolling around the web on a TV—just for fun.
Sometimes we worry that feature parades double as diversions, but that isn't the case here.
As for performance, the GA6400 series does a standup job. Its picture can't compete with the flagship big-boys, but this TV can shine when it wants to. True, the contrast ratio—or width of difference between how light and dark the TV gets—is admittedly disappointing. When a TV can deliver dramatically deep blacks and blinding peak whites, it lends more reality and depth to a picture, so it's a very important part of a television's performance. The 47-inch GA6400's pitiable black level borders on deep grey, but its peak brightness is quite dazzling, so the overall spectrum of darks and lights delivers pleasing everyday content—but it's nothing special. The viewing angle, as with many LEDs, is lamentable as well, so if you sit on the far end of the sofa, your view will look worse than if you were sitting front and center.
Color proved to be a strong-point for this display, however, and that is a very important part of a TV's capabilities. This LG produces a full and accurate array of hues, and the transitions from one color to the next are very smooth, so viewers should enjoy a vibrant, polished picture. To top it all off, the energy efficiency is top-notch, and the 12-watt speakers are above average.
Passive 3D that really jumps out at you
LG has a reputation for excellent 3D technology, so the whole TV team gathered together in the lab to see Monsters vs Aliens—in manner of tweenagers. We weren't disappointed. The movie looked great, the passive glasses felt comfortable, and not a trace of crosstalk—visible haziness that occurs when the left eye sees something meant for the right eye—fettered the experience.
And don't worry about how much the glasses cost; four battery-free pairs ship with the TV (even though last year's G2 came with six). Best of all, they aren't tragically nerdy and they barely weigh a thing!
Go go gadget!
The GA6400 series delivers an attractive picture, convincing passive 3D, enjoyable web-browsing, and streamlined access to content. Searching for movies through several providers is easier than ever, and LG's Magic Remote takes the headache out of web browsing on a TV. Effective voice vontrol, efficient gesture functions, a handy scroll wheel, and a full remote keypad combine for a tasty shmorgishborg of easy interfacing. Many users tire of tinkering with an app on a smartphone when they sit down to watch TV, and the provision of a consolidated keypad on the remote is a feature we're very glad to have.
LG lowered the initial asking price for the Google TV this year, by about $350, but because its picture quality didn't absolutely blow us away, we would recommend trying to find it on sale. The 47GA6400 we tested carries an MSRP of $1349.99, but we found this display online for under $1000. Prices aside, if you have feature-lust that just can't be stopped, smart TV like this is hard to top.
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