LG sub-$1000 UHD TV (40UB800T) review

Tomorrow's tech available today -- and for a steal

LG 40UB800T
  • LG 40UB800T
  • LG 40UB800T
  • LG 40UB800T
  • Expert Rating

    3.75 / 5

Pros

  • UHD resolution
  • Upscaling software
  • Relevant smartTV functionality
  • VOD and application software installed
  • Inexpensive
  • Thin bezels and attractive design

Cons

  • Magic remote does not have keypad
  • Single- and not dual- tuner
  • UHD content scarce

Would you buy this?

LG introduced the first UHD television in the Australian market, an 84-inch set that carried a $17,999 price-tag. Two years on and the price of UHD has nose-dived, with the 40-inch LG 40UB800T offering the rich resolution at a price south of $1000.

The LG 40UB800T rates high on the value-for-money scale. Its LED-backlit LCD panel supports the emerging Ultra high-definition standard's resolution of 3840x2160. As a result, it has 8.3 million pixels on its 100cm screen — that's four times the number of pixels found on Full HD televisions.

Find UHD content and the picture quality is staring-out-of-a-window sharp. The pixels are packed so tightly that, even when standing three feet from a screen, it’s hard to make them out individually.

Buying a UHD set — even at the low recommend retail price of $949 — isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Content is scarce and if you’re downloading a UHD movie, it will chew into your data allowance.

The UHD movies you do find or record will have to support specific file formats. We commonly test televisions with UHD movies and video recordings saved in the common .mp4 format. The LG 40UB800T would not play them.

Connections include: 3xHDMI, 2xUSB 2.0, 1xUSB 3.0, an antenna input, composite input, component input, an optical output, a headphone (3.5mm) output and a LAN port.
Connections include: 3xHDMI, 2xUSB 2.0, 1xUSB 3.0, an antenna input, composite input, component input, an optical output, a headphone (3.5mm) output and a LAN port.

The gripes of UHD aren’t limited to this television, but rather are obstacles the industry must overcome. Those who invest in the 40UB800T will be early adopters, and they’ll be able to enjoy the rich resolution when it becomes ubiquitous in the future.

Everyday HD and Full HD content can be upscaled until then. The fact the set is responsibly sized works in its favour as it makes it more difficult to spot fallacies, if there are any. We found the quality above-par when watching 576i television and wonderfully crisp during 1080p Blu-ray movies.

Read more: Review showdown: Motorola Moto 360 v LG G Watch R

The simplistic magic remote does not have numerical keys. Rather, a dedicated button generates a virtual keypad on screen. This process is slower and can grow tedious. Fortunately, LG has released an application.
The simplistic magic remote does not have numerical keys. Rather, a dedicated button generates a virtual keypad on screen. This process is slower and can grow tedious. Fortunately, LG has released an application.

This LG TV excels in its articulation of blacks, which are rich in detail, and in how sharp images appear. Colours are on par — not quite as vibrant as that of an OLED set — but good enough nonetheless, while the 100Hz refresh rate works hard to keep up with fast action sequences. Film noir movies are fantastic for this kind of television, the likes of se7en and L.A Confidential, while those in the vein of the visually rich Avatar are also done justice.

A 20 watt, two speaker setup handles audio playback. These speakers are enough if you’re planning on using the television as a secondary set for a bedroom. A surround sound system will prove a worthwhile investment for anyone interested in its UHD credentials.

The 40UB800T packs a decent array of smart TV features. It comes with the praised magic remote which supports voice control, has a single-tuner for use as a PVR, and although we had issues playing UHD files, the TV always played back files recorded in Full HD or less. (We found its strong support for a wide range of file types deemed media players, such as the WD TV Live or Google Chromecast, unnecessary.)

The TV has a thin profile which proves ideal when mounted
The TV has a thin profile which proves ideal when mounted

There’s in-built Wi-Fi and an application ecosystem that makes it possible to stream video-on-demand content. Noteworthy services include Quickflix, ABC iView, BigPond movies, SBS on Demand and YouTube. More apps and services can be downloaded from LG’s Smart World store, and best of all, most of them are free.

Read more: Showdown: Apple iPhone 6 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs LG G3

The 40-inch television runs LG’s legacy operating system and not the current WebOS. We did not miss WebOS because the software that ships with this set leaves us wanting for nothing: it is easy to use, highly functional and well designed.

Final thought

There’s a great deal more to the LG 40UB800T than its ability to play UHD content. This is a well rounded set, replete with relevant smart TV features, a fleshed out operating system and above-average performance. The low price makes it an ideal purchase for people interested in a television for a bedroom or are keen on upgrading the TV they use when gaming.

This is also an important television. Although UHD content is far from ripe today, the 40UB800T proves that one day people will be able to enjoy it without breaking the bank.

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