4K TVs started off as the hot luxury items of the home entertainment world but things are slowly changing. The large 4K displays still require deep pockets but the prices of 55-inch 4K TVs are considerably more affordable. However, buyers still have to face a dilemma and it is that hard fact that there are some wonderful 55-inch 1080p displays out there. The question still remains – why buy a 4K display when you can save hundreds of dollars by getting an impressive LED or plasma display. The 4K technology is still very young as well but LG is trying to show that their 4K displays including the LG 55LA9650 are ready for prime time.
The ultra-high resolution panel is what primarily makes the 55LA9650 an expensive 55-inch TV. While the LG 55LA9650 is positioned as an entry-level 4K display, LG didn’t take a cheap approach with the design of the TV. This display is as premium as you can get and the design surpasses previous LG 1080p flagship models. It has a very thin bezel which what separates this display from the much cheaper 55-inch ones. The way the TV stands is pretty interesting too since a horizontal stand should support a 55-inch display just fine. But instead, the 55LA9650 features a pair of supports on the left and right that really keep the display stable. However, the TV must be placed on a surface that is around the same width as the TV itself.
The available connection ports on the TV are nothing out of the ordinary. You get 4 HDMI ports to play with for your media players, gaming consoles and other stuff. Legacy components can still use AV in and component video inputs. There is also an RS-232 port for control and service.
Any high-end TV is expected to have Internet features in this time of age and the LG 55LA9650 delivers. But unlike the very first TVs that offered some sort of “Smart TV” interface, LG’s Smart TV platform comes out very polished and diverse. There are plenty of apps and even games to pick from and all the important online streaming apps are present like YouTube, Hulu Plus, Netflix and a bunch of other familiar apps. The Smart World interface looks a bit dated but it is functional and it is pretty easy to search for new apps. Getting connected is pretty easy since the TV has built-in Wi-Fi.
To make this Smart TV interface a bit more pleasant to navigate, LG bundles each TV with an updated version of the LG Magic Remote. The remote has a stylish and compact design and features a more ideal button placement for one-handed operation. Some of the key buttons have bumps so it is easy to use at night as well. The remote is equipped with the usual volume and channel controls along with a dedicated “Smart” for getting in and out of the interface. The LG Magic Remote works with other home theater components as well including certain Blu-ray players and set-top boxes so you don’t have to keep multiple remotes within reach. But exclusively for the 55LA9650 and other high-end LG TVs, the LG Magic Remote features some hidden tricks too. The remote is shaped like a pointer because you can actually use it like one. It makes interface navigation easier and can be used to play certain games too. It is also possible to perform air gestures with the remote on hand to execute certain TV commands such as changing to a specific channel. Finally, you can issue a number of voice commands to the remote and the TV will recognize them quickly.
The LG 55LA9650 is a 3D TV as well and comes with 4 sets of LG Cinema 3D glasses. While LG doesn’t make any gaming consoles, LG has implemented an interesting feature called Dual Play which splits the 3D effect into 2 separate 2D angles so 2 players playing a compatible game can enjoy his or her own point of view in full screen. Forza Motorsport 4 for the Xbox 360 is one of the games that support this feature. The 3D effect can be conveniently turned on or off from the LG Magic Remote.
On paper, the screen resolution of the 55LA9650 is quadruple the resolution of a standard 1080p TV resulting to sharper detail. But you will need some 4K content to really see how awesome 4K really is. Fortunately, the LG 55LA9650 comes with an upscaling feature that transforms 1080p content into an optimized 4K resolution. Native 4K content still looks best but at least 1080p content looks noticeably better compared to a standard 1080p display.
The 55LA9650 lacks the NANO Full LED panel that the pricier LA9700 model has but the overall picture quality is still pretty good. It has good viewing angles (178 degrees) and the LED Plus technology remains present to balance out the colors and contrast. The Triple XD Engine is basically LG’s answer to the numerous other motion clarity technologies developed by competing TV manufacturers. Any scenes producing fast moving images look very smooth and fluid.
Yielding high resolutions should mean higher power consumption but LG claims that the 55LA9650 is the most efficient television of 2013. It has the backings of Energy Star which means that power consumption shouldn’t be much of a concern for this particular TV.
If you have the chance to see the 55LA9650 in person, be sure to check out a 1080p TV as well and see if your eyes can discern the difference. There are far more pixels in the LG 55LA9650 but these pixels are crammed in a 55-inch display resulting to a higher pixel density. This is great if you like watching content up close but you should consider the larger LG 65LA9650 if you want to appreciate the 4K visuals from afar. That being said, there is still a place for the 55LA9650 because of its sub $3,500 price tag. It is an impressive display and a decent entry point to the 4K realm.
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