televisions

LG 55LA8600 LED TV Review

This LG doesn't do much wrong, except for its steep asking price.

$2,099.99 55 in.
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Overview

LG is very capable of making good-looking televisions—just look at its current lineup of mid-tier and high-end displays. But do LG’s latest and greatest TVs have what it takes to compete with performance giants like Samsung and Panasonic? Based on the LA8600 (MSRP $2,099.99 for the 55-inch model), LG is still a contender.

In addition to looking awesome, the LA8600 also produces a terrific picture. Aside from a slight color temperature error, this is a great TV. The real question is whether that greatness is worth $2,099.99. That all depends on what you want this TV for.

Design

Captain Kirk would love this space-age beauty.

Cinema Screen describes LG's bezel-less design scheme for 2013; it also describes the LA8600, which possesses those thin and stylish borders. Marketing aside, this LG is one incredible looking TV—yes, we’re fans of narrow bezels. Coupled with its thin profile, this is a display that just begs to be wall-mounted, although its modern stand is might also appeal to some. For the record, I’m a fan, but the space-age base might be a sore thumb if your idea of futuristic is the lava lamp.

This is a display that just begs to be wall-mounted.

Speaking of space-age—LG’s updated Magic Remote looks more and more like something from Star Trek. The phaser-styled remote is still motion-controlled, and fits very comfortably in your hand. Unfortunately, adjusting settings using just motion gets very annoying. True, you can use the directional buttons around the remote’s scroll wheel, but you still need to use motion in order to reach the settings page. Talk about a first-world problem.

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Menu & Smart Features

LG’s aesthetically pleasing menu can’t make up for annoying motion controls.

We mentioned in the design section how annoying it can be to use the motion-controlled Magic Remote for accessing the menu. As much as we like the remote, LG needs to include a dedicated menu button. The quickest way to access the menu interface is to point the remote at the bottom-left corner of the screen, which brings up the “My Apps” icon. Click it, and then click on the settings icon. We’re nitpicking, but that is way too much work.

LG needs to include a dedicated menu button on its Magic Remote.

Fortunately, accessing LG’s smart platform is much easier—it actually has a dedicated button on the remote! Not too much has changed since last year’s smart offering, although things seem to be much quicker this time around because of the LA8600’s increased processing prowess.

While there aren’t any cable interface features on LG’s smart platform (like Samsung’s Smart Hub or Google TV), it does have a host of “smart” options. Controlling your cable box or Blu-ray player with the Magic Remote is nifty, as are the included video streaming apps (Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Crackle).

If you want to get really in-depth with LG’s smart platform, check out our guide here.

Performance

Despite a lackluster contrast, content looks great on this TV.

Let’s cut to the chase: If you own the LG LA8600, you will be more than happy with the picture it produces. We spent some time watching The Hobbit on it (sometimes work is unbearably difficult) and were treated to a terrific image. Colors were accurate and vibrant, and while it has a color temperature error that produces more bluish whites and greys, it wasn’t very noticeable while watching actual content.

This TV’s scorching whites make up for its lackluster black levels.

Motion performance is another area the LA8600 excels in. Intense scenes with a panning camera caused some slight blurring, but aside from that, we didn’t notice any faults with this LG. We should note that the motion performance options on it are overkill: Applying a small amount of it still produces a jarring Soap Opera Effect.

As far as contrast is concerned, this TV’s scorching whites make up for its lackluster black levels. Yes, contrast junkies: This LG does not produce very deep blacks. LG displays typically don’t get very dark, but usually produce incredibly bright whites. While you won’t get the same jaw-dropping picture as the Panasonic VT60, you will get a delightful image that has enough detail for all but the most ardent of A/V nerds.

The Finale

Yes, it’s an awesome TV, but it could benefit from a price drop.

We really enjoyed the LA8600, even with its slight color temperature issue and yawn-worthy black levels. And while we easily say this is a terrific display, its asking price of $2,099.99 for a 55-inch model is a bit steep. Yes, you get a beautiful TV that will make your in-laws jealous, but you can also do that with Panasonic’s DT60 and Samsung’s F7100 for less. If supermodel-thin bezels are your thing, definitely consider the LA8600 if you find it on sale. Otherwise, do some comparison shopping.

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