LG’s lineup of TVs is so extensive due to the many technologies they now offer. New technologies like OLED and 4K displays are not ready to make the older ones obsolete, so it makes perfect sense to continue to sell 1080p displays at much lower prices. However, this trend isn’t giving the average consumer any favors. Even if you nailed down the brand and preferred price range, you will still have several TVs worthy of consideration. For instance, in the $1500 to $1700 range, you can go simple and get the LG 49UB8200 for $1599 or spend $100 more on the LG 49UB8500 which comes with webOS. Both TVs have a 4K resolution and that explains why you can buy a 60-inch 1080p webOS-enabled TV for a bit less. The 49UB8500 may seem to be in a precarious place in LG’s new family of TVs but it has a nice balance of futuristic technologies and a screen size that should suit a lot of living room types.
LG has been taking a different approach to most of their new 49-inch and bigger TVs. Rather than having a stand in the middle to open up additional setup possibilities, LG chose stability by putting legs on the left and right of the display. With the LG 49UB8500, however, the legs are joined together making the TV look as if it is being supported with a single wide horizontal bar. You will still need a wide table to place the TV on but it does look more premium and unique. When turned on, you can really see how the picture stands out because the bezels are so thin.
Compared to the UB8200 model, the 49UB8500 is better equipped with four HDMI ports on the side rather than just three. There is still one USB 3.0 port and two USB 2.0 ports on the side while the rest of the common ports are on the back.
The LG 49UB8500 is one of the cheapest 4K displays that come with the webOS operating system. If you did not believe in “Smart TV” interfaces in the past, webOS could change your mind because in a nutshell, webOS is the best TV operating system yet. The setup process already begins with webOS and walks you through a rather fun guide starring a new LG mascot named Bean Bird. Because Wi-Fi is already built into the display, you should be able to connect to the Internet right from the start providing your home wireless router is operational. After you set some of the introductory options, you can proceed to using the TV to your liking.
The webOS experience of the 49UB8500 starts with the included Magic Remote. It is compact and has a curvy shape with a few vital buttons including a “Home” button which kicks off the webOS interface. It breaks the traditional Smart TV interface by taking the form of a dock containing slightly slanted stripes each with icons and matching colors. The Magic Remote acts as a pointing device so you use it to control the cursor and hit the icon to launch an app. The dock can scroll too and you can customize it so all your favorite apps are within reach. One of the best things about webOS is how fast these apps load. On top of that, you can press the “Home” button again even if you are currently in an app and the dock will conveniently popup. This allows you to switch to another app without even leaving the current app giving this whole experience that multitasking vibe. Downloading new apps is pretty simple too and there is plenty to choose from. LG also features its own recommendations service where you can get suggestions for good content to watch based on your selected favorite programs or get them directly from friends if they use an LG TV too.
One of the features that is lacking in the UB8200 is 3D support but you will get that with the LG 49UB8500 and it works rather well since it can utilize the 4K panel. 2 pairs of passive Cinema 3D Glasses are included in the package.
The 3840×2160 screen resolution serves as the main premium feature. It is no longer a new feature but it is still quite new in the sub-$2,000 category. On top of that, the 4K content is still lacking so think of it as a future investment that should be considered. If you check out some of the 4K videos on Netflix, you will discover how much better the picture quality is. Unlike first-generation 4K displays, you won’t have to worry about future content compatibility either as the formats have been finalized. The HEVC Decoder is present within the TV and it simply enables next-generation 4K content playback. It relies on an IPS panel too so you get really good colors and viewing angles.
The latest home movies cannot take full advantage of the LG 49UB8500 because these movies max out at 1080p. However, the 49UB8500 is capable of upscaling 1080p content and even lower resolution content so they visuals look sharp on the 4K panel. 49 inches isn’t exactly the most ideal size for a 4K display due to the high pixel density but the improvements are noticeable up close. It also has a fairly high UCI (Ultra Clarity Index) of 1200 highlighting the TV’s ability to handle motion blur well.
At $1,699 the 49UB8500 is a pretty decent buy, although you will get something that is noticeably smaller than your average 55-inch TV. However, the LG 49UB8500 is a highly capable TV with a great webOS-powered experience and shows off pictures very well. There more advanced LG TVs have a higher UCI and come equipped with superior speakers but they are far more expensive and bigger. In fact, this is LG’s most advanced 49-inch TV and if you can really see the improvement that 8 million pixels can deliver, the 49UB8500 could be the best ticket to the future of home entertainment.
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