Hands On: LG 84LM9600 4K Ultra HD TV
Plus-sized TV requires 4X the pixels of HDTV
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November 29, 2012 by Grant Clauser

This TV is kind of a big deal, and I don’t say that just because it’s literally big—as in six feet wide. The new LG 84LM9600 is the world’s first 4K resolution 3D smart TV. Because production quantities are understandably low, and this is a pricy set, it was easier for me to go to the TV rather than for the TV to come to me. I spent several hours alone with the TV and my test gear at LG’s Chicago headquarters.

When we discuss 4K, we mean a TV with a resolution of at least eight million active pixels—3,840 horizontally and 2,160 vertically in a 16:9 aspect ratio, which is exactly the resolution of this model (as well as the Sony model that is also just hitting the market).  The industry recently agreed to call 4K “Ultra HD,” so for this review consider the terms interchangeable.

This is LG’s flagship model, so it carries a flagship price of $19,999, though retailers are selling it for a minimum advertised price of $16,999.

The 84LM9600 includes all of LG’s top TV features, including the smart TV platform, the gyroscope-like Magic Remote (with voice features), built-in Wi-Fi and a pretty good audio system. It also comes with a standard remote. (For more about LG’s smart TV features and the Magic Remote, see this review.) It wears an attractive, fairly narrow bezel for a TV of this size and is only a hair over 1.5 inches thick. Sharp’s 80-inch 1080p TV models are more than three inches thick.

That slim depth is a result of LG going with an edge-lit design rather than a full-array LED design, which Sharp uses in its big TVs. Edge-lit LED TVs are thinner, but they can suffer from some light blooming and uniformity issues that don’t plague full-array models.

Like all LG 3D LCD TVs, this one uses the passive 3D method with polarized glasses (no battery or LCD lenses). The TV comes with six sets of 3D glasses.

The LG Ultra HD comes with a small, but very sturdy-looking table stand that permits it to swivel to either side. A swivel stand is unusual in the massive class of TVs, and this one swivels remarkably well—you’d hardly guess by how easily it moves that the TV weighs 150 pounds (Sharp’s 80- and 90-inch TVs actually weight just a bit less than this).

Another issue with edge-lit TVs is their inability to locally dim the LEDs nearly as well as full-array sets. LG and other companies do employ an edge-based local dimming technology, and I’ll discuss that a little later. Again, for comparison, the big Sharp TVs do not use local dimming, but the Sharp Elite brand TVs do. (Note: I use the Sharp 80- and 90-inch TVs as a reference only because they are the closest comparable in size. Being 1080p TVs, they are considerably cheaper, but also a different technology class).

Big TVs are fun—who doesn’t love a TV that makes the neighbors’ jaw drop?  However, arranging a room around a TV this big raises particular issues, especially seating distance. Using the THX seating distance formula (diagonal screen size divided by .84) gives us an ideal seating distance of 8.3 feet. That might seem a bit close, especially if you’re using a 1080p TV, but with Ultra HD resolution, you can actually sit much closer (the THX calculator is for determining an immersive viewing field, and does not necessarily take screen resolution into account).  Most living rooms will put a little more distance between the TV and the sofa, so I set myself up at 10 feet. 

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.

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Grant Clauser - Technology and Web Editor, Electronic House
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.

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