LG 50LA6900 Review
50 inch 1080p Passive 3D 120Hz LED TV
by Robert Wiley, Senior Editor
The 50LA6900 is replaces the 6700 series from last year. The addition of the 50-inch size to the mid-tier series offers flexibility for those who want a little larger TV but don’t have the space or want the 55” size. The 6900 series offers a 2.1 speaker system, attractive Cinema Screen design, voice recognition features, as well as a dual core processor for speeding up Smart TV functions.
Picture Quality Rating: 8.7
This shot from the Mama Mia! shows the great amount of detail can be seen in bright and dark areas of the screen
Picture quality on the LA6900 is very strong with great dark shadow detail which is not overshadowed by good black performance. Colors are natural looking and not over saturated, while picture depth is also very good for the LED edge lit LCD TV. This TV will not win best picture quality awards due to it not having quite enough zip from the backlight to gain superior peak whites or enough black depth to win there, but it's a solid contender with a very good picture. The screen is clear coat with a bit of anti glare matte in it, which also hurts your side angle viewing quality.
Viewing Angle Quality
At 25 degrees off center there is notable contrast loss and this is especially noticeable if you are viewing the TV from above or below eye level. For instance, you would be affected by this loss of color and contrast if you had the TV mounted above a fireplace.
3D Picture Quality - Best in the Market
We tested this LG's passive 3D vs. Panasonic and Samsung active 3D and I have to say that I think it's better – which would make it the best 3D viewing in the market. This is a TV that you really do want to watch 3D on, the picture is so superior to the 2D picture. I know, I know, the numbers work better for active (1080p to each eye) but when I view the 3D content on the 50LA6900 I thought there was more clarity and a great amount of depth perception. The glasses are cheap, comfortable, and light. Unfortuntely, we couldnt really test the 3D content located through the TVs Smart menu very well due to lack of processor power in the TV. But with BluRay 3D content the TV displayed a great amount of depth, rich colors, and good contrast.
2D to 3D Conversion Testing and Quality
First, make sure the TruMotion feature is on (Standard picture with Smooth TruMotion setting is fine). With a push of the 3D button on the Magic remote control you can convert any 2D programming you are watching to 3D. Obviously LG is keen on everyone trying this – thus the dedicated key on the remote. We tried out the 2D to 3D conversion much more extensively with a couple of Blu-Ray discs. The 3D effects are fairly subtle with the conversion – pretty good, but we still preferred a BluRay without the 2D to 3D conversion. Side angle viewing quality is affected severely with 2D to 3D conversion with contrast and colors fading. Normal DVDs may be brought to life, especially older ones by the conversion to 3D. Give it a try.
Shadow detail and color are great in this shot, but you can also see a bit of screen reflection on the left
TruMotion Feature Settings (De-judder and De-Blur)
Setting Options: Clear Plus, User, Off, Smooth, and Clear
This is possibly going to be the control you will most want to access and play around with to find out what is most desirable for you. Purists will likely need to turn this feature Off but will experience a bit of judder (super fast skipping). All of the TruMotion options cut out natural background blur and add a kitchy soap opera effect to programming. Although the De-Blur portion of the settings only has a minimal impact we recommend for normal:
- De-Judder – 0
- De-Blur – 10
Features Rating: 8.3
Remote Control and Menu – Magic Remote and Voice Control get an A
This is the updated look for the Magic Remote accessory. It's got all of the necessary buttons as well as a mic button on the bottom of the 5-way controller for engaging the voice controls
Magic Remote Control Initial Set up very easy. Shake the remote to get the courser working, the courser arrow pops up immediately if you have a hot signal going into the TV. If not, it's a little sluggish to get it working for instance if you are just accessing the Smart TV options. We have always liked the point and click operation of the Magic remote and still do. It speeds section and browsing. But now this voice control feature has trumped everything before it. It is amazingly accurate. Just press the mic button and speak. We tested the TV browser (Bing) with our favorite difficult site url, “LCD TV Buying Guide” and the 50LA6900 had no problem, pulling up our site #1. We tested again and the results were the same. The voice recognition technology is fantastic. Drawbacks to the remote are no Input or Aspect ration keys even though there is a quick menu key that accesses the Input icon. We wished the LG Smart TV processing matched it the excellence of the remote.
The LA6900 menu system Straight forward, easy to use and well laid out. One drawback is that you have to click on the Smart TV key on the remote to access the picture settings menu. They are not available through the Quick menu settings.
Smart TV Features Abound
The 50LA6900 is loaded with Smart TV features not found in previously in LG TVs. The experience of the user has been granted the most attention when designing the Smart TV platform. The familiar Smart TV suite is in place with some enhancements over past iterations. The first new thing you'll notice is the “My Interest Cards” placed on the home dashboard. These allow you to customize the easily accessed apps and display things like real time weather or news from your favorite sites.
Smart Share features are one of the biggest updates to Smart TV. The LG 50LA6900 is capable of accepting a Widi signal from a portable device which lets you display 5.1 surround sound full HD content without and wires. Near Field Communication (NFC) is supported as well. LG has named this the “Tag On” feature. All you have to do is hold a NFC device near the NFC sticker that comes with the TV and video or audio content will be shared immediately. This feature has a lot of potential if you have an NFC phone or tablet.
Voice Recognition Test
Sound Mode Options Choices – Excellent Sound Quality!
Clear Voice II and Virtual Surround Plus options here add interesting choices, but our choice is the Cinema setting with Clear Voice II setting enabled with the level set at 3. The Standard setting is our second favorite with Clear voice II enabled. Overall we rate the sound quality of this TV as excellent and a high point. It is better than the other manufacturers we've tested as well by a long shot. The speaker in the bottom back of the TV adds most of the overall depth to the TV but we believe it is well worth it to have good sound from the TV. These minimalist TV designs are often used in spaces without home theater systems.
Appearance and Design – Wonderful
The 50LA6900 series is equipped with the top-end Cinema Screen design. This is LG's way of saying the TV is attractive with a futuristic looking design. From what we have seen, it is the truth. The silver metal bezel is virtually invisible on the sides and top with about an inch on the bottom. This leaves nothing but the picture to look at while you are watching. The stand has been redesigned for the 2013/2014 models too. To enhance the floating image effect and lessen distraction, LG has given it the Magic Stand. It is a minimalist design that allows swivel and rolling features to position the TV for perfect viewing angles. It is pretty neat and offers a bit of flexibility not found in many standard TV stands.
Gaming Quality – Lacking Excellence
We hooked up a Playstation 3 and loaded Gran Turismo 5 and Okami HD to test of the gaming capabilities of the 50LA6900. This TV may not be the best choice for games. The picture is great, but motion blur or input lag always seemed to be a problem. I recommend using the Game picture mode to get rid of input lag, but motion blur and judder remain a problem. On the flip side, the Standard picture mode with TruMotion set to 'Clear' makes for a smoother image, but input lag hurts the experience. We also tried out 3D with Gran Turismo 5. I don't recommend this either because the quality degraded badly enough to cause jagged image edges. The benefits from TruMotion were lost in 3D too, leaving a good bit of motion blur. In the end, I would look elsewhere for a gaming TV if that is of primary concern.
Smart TV Features - Offerings held back by lack of Video Processing Power
Smart TV options are accessed by one press of the far right button on the Magic remote. One problem we ran across consistently with streaming content was a lack of processing power from the LA6900 with movies or TV but even more noticeably with 3D content (where more processing is required). The signal buffers and sputters constantly. This was not the case last year when I tested 3D world Apps. When we viewed some You Tube videos as a last test the LA6900 buffered for a while when loading, then played it OK. But when we switched the resolution even to just 480p the buffering delay resumed.
The Smart TV menu is clearly laid out with options:
Premium – Lists premium providers like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu HD movies, You Tube, MLB.tv (major leage baseball app), Cinema Now, Crackly, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Google Maps, AP, and vTuner, Picasa, Viewster. As one notable change, NBA Game Time is no longer listed in the Apps for this year. Another notable miss is TED.
See a further run down on LG's Smart TV Apps and quality here. Suffice it to say there are a few decent options but for the most part, they are lacking character.
Value Rating: 8.5/10
The LG 50LA6900 is certainly going to compete well in the value area given the Magic Remote strengths and solid picture performance combined with incredible looks. Pricing is around $1499 which gives you a nice discount from the more expensive 240Hz models on the market. Competition is from the Samsung UN50F7100, and the Panasonic TC-L50ET60 as a couple of comparisons. From our perspective the gaming quality wasnt very good on this TV or the LA7400 series so you might as well forgo the LA7400 and save yourself some money.
Overall Rating: 8.5/10
- 1080p Full HD Resolution
- 120hz Panel
- 2.1 Built-in Speaker System
- Sound Link
- Smart Sound
- Magic Remote without QWERTY keyboard
- Enhanced Voice Recognition
|Having reviewed and written about Television Technology for over 10 years, Wiley never tires of researching the newest qualitative trends related to the technology. Most people do not get excited about possibilities behind the latest video engine...Wiley does. Read more about Robert|