LG 47LM960V review

How does LG's 2012 Nano tech shape up?

LG 47LM960V
How does LG's 2012 Nano tech shape up?

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

It's apparent right away that LG has massively improved the light banding/blocking/haloing situation compared with last year's Nano sets. In fact, we struggled to make out any such 'light pollution' during normal video viewing - and even when feeding the screen test signals containing extreme variations of contrast the problem wasn't by any means severely distracting. Especially if you avoid the local dimming option's High setting.

With LG keeping mum about exactly how it's managed to reduce the light blocking problems, we can only presume it's down to a large increase in the number of individually controllable LED clusters behind the screen; or it's a much more sophisticated image analysing system; or it's a combination of both.
Or maybe, just maybe, the reduced banding and blocking could be down to a rather less welcome development: a reduction in the screen's black level potential.

It was striking on last year's Nano sets just how grey supposedly dark scenes looked if you didn't use the Local Dimming option those sets carried, and this flaw continues onto the 47LM960V. Only now it also seems as if activating local dimming doesn't have as much of a black level boosting effect as it did last year - even if you use the system on its highest setting.

To be fair, without having one of last year's Nano sets in front of us for direct comparison, it could be that our impression of reduced black levels says less about any 'backwards steps' in the 47LM960V than it does about the great leaps forward in black reproduction witnessed on the latest TVs from Panasonic, Samsung, Philips and, ironically, LG itself, with its LM660T/LM670T mid-range models.
But whatever the true source of our disappointment, the fact remains that as the 47LM960V sits on the test bench, its black level response doesn't seem particularly great. Especially for a model that uses direct LED lighting.

A strong example of the 47LM960V's black level problems can be seen with Chapter 12 of the final Harry Potter film. This is an exceptionally dark scene that seems almost tailor-made to catch TVs out, and catch the 47LM960V out it certainly does. During the opening shot of the chapter, showing Voldemort's army assembled on a hill above Hogwarts, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say you could barely see any picture at all on this LG set.

With local dimming off the screen just looked like a grey cloud with some faint blobs in it that were supposed to be faces. Yet with local dimming on, while the greyness subsided and a blacker black colour appeared, the image still didn't appear to actually have any significant amounts of content - presumably as the local dimming/Nano tech combination wasn't subtle enough in its light delivery to retain shadow details in anything like the quantities a flagship TV should.

What's more, trying to fix the problem with the set's contrast, backlight and brightness adjustments doesn't get you anywhere; you mostly just end up with different shades of grey or black emptiness.

The Harry Potter scene just discussed is admittedly a pretty extreme example of dark film making. It's certainly the case, too, that the 47LM960V's contrast performance can actually look good when watching less demanding footage containing a mix of bright and dark content. But Voldemort's assault on Hogwarts is hardly the only dark scene you'll come across in day to day televisual life, so it's a shame that with all such scenes, the 47LM960V will struggle.

This would be disappointing on any TV, but it's a crushing blow for a TV that uses direct LED lighting. In fact, it seems to defeat the whole object of bothering with the technology in the first place. This is especially galling when it would appear that the thing that most spoils the direct LED potential is a feature - Nano technology - which appears to have been predominantly created to make sets like the 47LM960V a bit slimmer. Surely if your purchasing decision is motivated by slimness, you'll get one of LG's edge LED models? Direct LED is usually the choice of picture quality enthusiasts, so to compromise it for design reasons doesn't make any sense at all.

Trying to see past the above rant, the 47LM960V unsurprisingly has some considerable strengths too. Colours look explosive, for instance - though not in any rough, cartoonish kind of way. For despite the exceptional vibrancy and rich saturations, the power of the TV's processing ensures that there's almost infinite subtlety in the way colour blends are presented. The colour gamut on show is vast too.

While the local dimming system might not perform as well as hoped with dark scenes, meanwhile, it does deliver a welcome boost in bright picture areas, giving them even more punch than they might otherwise have.

The 47LM960V displays HD images with impressive clarity and detailing too, especially as it proves able to handle motion unusually well by LCD standards. Even without any of the provided motion processing systems in play there's minimal resolution loss or judder as objects move across the screen.

Should you want to try LG's TruMotion circuitry out, though, the processing power driving it means that you can pretty much entirely dispense with judder and blur without suffering nasty side effects (so long as you use one of the 'Clear' TruMotion settings, anyway).

Also endlessly watchable are the 47LM960V's 3D pictures. The now customary passive 3D advantages of bright, colourful 3D images free from flicker and mostly free from crosstalk are abundantly apparent, and depth reproduction seems accurate and unforced. The impressively direct connection you feel with passive 3D images helps them look crisp and clean too, and you only occasionally feel aware of passive 3D's weaknesses (jaggedness around some contoured edges, and a slight lack of detail).

These weaknesses are more apparent the nearer the screen you get, and you also need to be careful not to watch pictures from more than a 13-degree angle above or below the screen, or else crosstalk suddenly goes ballistic. Provided you sit sensibly, though, all but the most resolution-obsessed enthusiast should feel exceedingly happy with the 47LM960V's 3D abilities.

Standard definition pictures aren't upscaled with quite as much skill as you get with some rival flagship TVs, despite the 47LM960V's dual-core processing. But there's still a clear sense of extra detail in upscaled standard def images, and noise is decently suppressed. It's good to see, too, that you don't get the same drop-off in colour accuracy with standard definition on the 47LM960V that some other LCD TVs exhibit.

In fact, when not being taxed by very dark scenes the 47LM960V's pictures can look little short of outstanding. The only visible glitch beyond the black level problems, in fact, is that the screen's viewing angle seems very limited, whereby sitting anything more than around 30 degrees down the side of the TV can cause major drop offs in contrast and colour.

There is one further 'invisible' picture flaw gamers need to be aware of, though. For in keeping with every other LG TV tested in recent times, the 47LM960V suffers with rather excessive amounts of input lag - 80ms on average, sometimes getting as high as 100ms. This is enough to potentially reduce your all-important performance with time-sensitive games.

John Archer
AV Technology Contributor

John has been writing about home entertainment technology for more than two decades - an especially impressive feat considering he still claims to only be 35 years old (yeah, right). In that time he’s reviewed hundreds if not thousands of TVs, projectors and speakers, and spent frankly far too long sitting by himself in a dark room.