LG 55LA8600 LED TV review
LG's LA8600 is the company's top of the line LED TV for 2013
- Attractive design
- Generally good picture quality
- Decent 3D quality
- Plastic stand
- Smart TV interface can be sluggish
- Voice and motion features hit and miss
The LG LA8600 is the company's top of the line LED TV for 2013. Its Smart TV interface is neither as extensive or as smooth as some rival offerings, but it remains an excellent TV overall.
Price$ 4,099.00 (AUD)
LG's LA8600 is the company's top of the line LED TV for 2013. Available in both 55in and 60in sizes, the LA8600 is a 200Hz, LED-backlit screen that includes LG's 'Magic Swivel' stand, twin TV tuners, a built-in Skype and motion control camera, and Cinema 3D technology. The Smart TV interface is neither as extensive or as smooth as Samsung's offering, but this remains an excellent TV overall.
LG LA8600: Design and connectivity
The LG LA8600 is best described as an evolution of last years top of the line LED model, the LM9600. We reviewed the 55in model (55LA8600), though the models are identical aside from screen size.
Despite appearing to be made from metal, the glossy stand is actually constructed from plastic.
The LG LA8600 has an extremely thin bezel surrounding the display, so it's almost an edge-to-edge screen. The bezel is slightly thicker at the bottom with a black plastic strip that includes the LG logo. We love how the bezel protrudes at the bottom where the backlit LG logo is located.
The LA8600 sits on an attractive chrome stand that LG calls "Magic Swivel". There's built in rollers on the bottom that allow the TV to be swiveled to the left and right, though we do wish the angle was a little wider. The stand extends out on both the front and rear so you'll need to be wary of the depth of any TV cabinet it sits on. Despite appearing to be made from metal, the glossy stand is actually constructed from plastic, so it feels a little cheap for such a high end TV.
Hidden underneath the LA8600 are a pair of 12W speakers and a small subwoofer. They produce loud sound and the subwoofer even managed to vibrate our TV cabinet on occasions, but sound does become distorted at higher volume levels and the overall quality isn't the best.
On the top is a pop-up camera for motion sensing features and for supplying video to built-in apps like Skype.
The LA8600 is thin enough at 45mm to look classy on a wall-mount, though its not as thin as some older edge-lit LED models. The bottom plastic bezel also protrudes out from the back further than the rest of the TV, so keep this in mind if you do plan to wall-mount it.
On the top is a pop-up camera for motion sensing features and for supplying video to built-in apps like Skype. It doesn't pop-up automatically, so you have to pull it up manually when you want to use it. It worked fine with LG's built-in Skype app during our testing, though we had less success using it as a motion sensor.
The back of the LG LA8600 houses all the TV's connections. All four HDMI ports, two USB 2.0 ports and a single USB 3.0 port are located on the side panel and are easy to access. The rest of the ports, including an Ethernet connection, VGA, composite and component video, antenna and optical digital audio outputs, are downward facing. We tried using a portable USB 3.0 hard drive with the LA8600 but couldn’t get it working despite the port being labelled as "HDD". Both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 flash drives worked without any issues and played a variety of video files.
LG LA8600: Smart TV
The Smart TV interface isn't as complicated as Samsung's latest models but it's not as attractive either.
The LA8600's Smart TV interface is pretty similar to the one on last years models with just a few small changes. The UI is once again arranged into boxed categories that are by default set to premium video on demand content, 3D World, Smart World, Game World and Smart Share. The first and the last categories are the ones you're likely to use the most. The former groups on demand services like BigPond TV, ABC iView, SBS on Demand and YouTube, while the latter enables users to link a device like a tablet or smartphone and wirelessly share media content to the TV.
We found the video quality of most on-demand services generally acceptable. It's not high definition and there's visible artefacts on most content but the LA8600 does a good job of upscaling videos to fit the large screen without impacting too much on quality.
Like LG's 2012 TV's, an easy-access taskbar runs along the bottom of the LA8600's Smart TV screen. The interface isn't as complicated as Samsung's Smart TV models but it's not as attractive either. There's also some annoying lag when moving from screen to screen. It's not a huge issue but compared to Samsung's Smart TV's, the LA8600's interface is both slower to load and navigate. Overall, it just doesn't feel as smooth or as polished as competitors like the Samsung Series 8 F8000.
LG bundles two remote controls with the LA8600, a regular remote control and what it calls a premium "Magic Remote". The latter has an integrated microphone allowing users to dictate commands through certain apps, functions as an on-screen pointer and has a scroll wheel that can be used in the Web browser or to change channels. The on-screen pointer works well but the voice commands are hit and miss and we preferred using the regular up and down keys to change channels rather than the scroll wheel.
LG LA8600: Picture quality
As one of LG's top LED models for 2013, the LA8600 has excellent picture quality. We tested the TV with a variety of input sources including a Blu-ray player, a Foxtel IQ HD set top box, a Sony PlayStation 3 and video files through a USB key and all worked without too many issues.
The LA8600's 200Hz LCD panel looks very smooth when displaying high-quality video sources, particularly Blu-ray movies and full HD video files. It displays excellent levels of detail when showing a high quality movie. Blacks in movies like The Dark Knight and Drive are reasonable, though not as deep as most plasma models or Samsung's latest LED panels. The LA8600 also produces good clarity and contrast and displays largely accurate colours, though the glass is a little reflective. If you're using the TV in a room with large windows, this can become annoying.
The LA8600 has Vivid, Standard, Eco, Cinema and Game picture presets. We found Cinema the best setting for most content, though it works best in a dark environment. Both the Vivid and Standard presets are far too bright and result in oversaturated colours, though you can of course adjust these manually.
Like most of these models there is a small amount of backlight bleed at some points around the edge of the screen.
The LG LA8600 is an edge-lit TV so like most of these models there is a small amount of backlight bleed at some points around the edge of the screen. It's a pretty minor issue overall and you can only really notice it when you're in an entirely dark room watching an almost completely black screen, like the credits at the end of a film. If you're planning to use the LA8600 in a very dark environment at your home, you might be better off with a plasma TV.
The LG LA8600 is a Cinema 3D model and therefore uses thin and cheap polarised 3D glasses, just like the ones you get when watching a 3D movie at the cinemas. Otherwise known as passive 3D, LG bundles four pairs of regular 3D glasses with the TV, along with a single pair of DualPlay glasses that allow private, split-screen multiplayer gaming. The glasses don't require batteries to work, which is one big advantage over the active 3D technology used by Samsung and other manufacturers.
We found the quality of 3D pretty impressive overall during titles like Avatar 3D. Watching at a close distance to the screen does reveal some horizontal line splitting but this is an issue that's synonymous to passive 3D and not an issue of the LA8600 itself. At normal distances this isn't really noticeable. We also managed to watch a full length 3D movie without feeling tired or dizzy.
LG LA8600: Conclusion
The LG LA8600 is an impressive TV overall, with good picture quality, an attractive design and some nice smart TV features. It's Smart TV interface could use both a facelift and a speed boost to bring it in line with competitors and there is some slight backlight bleed during dark scenes, but overall we would happily recommend the LA8600.
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