If there was ever a TV for which the phrase 'game of two halves' was destined to be wheeled out, it's the 47LD950, especially where 3D is concerned.
We first tested the set out with Sky's 3D channel (channel 217 for Sky HD customers, in case you hadn't noticed). And we were truly startled by the results. For in many ways, the 47LD950 produces the most enjoyable 3D Sky picture we've seen so far.
The key to its success is how impressively natural it looks. The lack of any alternate frame technology reduces issues of flicker sometimes seen with that rival system, for a start. Colours also seem slightly more vibrant than tends to be the case with active shutter glasses and the picture's general brightness level is higher than we get with sequential frame sets.
Next, Sky 3D pictures look slightly crisper than usual. This might be partly down to the LG's passive 3D approach sitting so comfortably with Sky's side by side 3D broadcast approach, but it mostly has to do with the more or less total absence of the 3D crosstalk problem witnessed on all the other frame sequential 3D LCD TVs we've seen to date. It's just so refreshing to see the lines on a football pitch or the trees at the end of a golf fairway appearing just once, rather than with crosstalk's ghostly echoes to either side.
Not surprisingly, the lack of crosstalk and flicker makes watching Sky 3D on the LG a less fatiguing experience than we're used to. And we'd even say that the sheer crispness and unforced nature of the 3D image makes the 3D depth of field look more natural.
This is all pretty major news and should have the active sets quaking in their boots. But then we stuck the 3D Monsters Vs Aliens frame sequential Blu-ray into our 3D Blu-ray player, and things went rapidly downhill.
The 3D effect on the 47LD950 just wasn't nearly as convincing, and within moments our eyes were starting to feel tired and our brain was starting to hurt.
Breaking the image down into components to try and figure out where the 47LD950's Blu-ray performance is going wrong, the biggest problem seems to be that the natural depth of field noted with Sky is replaced with a more abrupt division between the foreground and the background, with less awareness of a sense of implied space between the two.
Emphasising this is the fact that the TV just doesn't seem able to resolve the foreground and background content simultaneously with normal levels of clarity. You can have the former looking crisp and believable while the latter looks somehow out of focus, or vice versa, depending on whether you've got the 3D output set to its left/right or right/left position.
Adding still further emphasis to this already troublesome phenomenon are some problems handling motion with 3D Blu-rays, as fast moving objects contribute further to the sense of lost clarity.
3D Blu-ray pictures don't look quite as detailed as they do on active 3D TVs, which is pretty much as we'd expect given that the LG can't deliver full HD to each eye. But we'd still say Blu-rays would look pleasantly crisp, bright and colourful were it not for the depth and motion issues.
In plain 2D mode, the 47LD950's mixed results continue. With HD it's rather good, packing impressive detail punch, rich but natural colours, and decent motion handling that suggests the 3D problems in that area are to do with the 3D translation engine rather than any inherent motion problems with the TV.
The 47LD950 is not as comfortable with 2D standard definition, though. Its upscaling engine doesn't work as effectively as those on some of LG's other TVs, leaving all but the very highest quality standard-def feeds looking a little soft and noisy. The occasional rogue colour tone creeps into standard-def playback, too.
We also found the set's black level response a little uninspiring, with more greyness around during dark scenes than we're starting to find with the best flatscreens.