LG’s Ultra HD capable TV is inexpensive — for a Ultra HD TV, that is. It’s an impressive unit, but the time still isn’t right for most people to invest in Ultra HD TV.
LG 65LA9700 Ultra HD TV: On the plus side
The LG 65LA9700 Ultra HD TV is, as the name suggests, a TV whose main selling point is its Ultra HD (3840×2160 pixel) compatibility. UHDTV (which you may see still referred to as “4K”) is the next generation of display panel, and one that up until very recently was only available in panels costing well north of $10,000. Think “cheap family car”, much more so than “cheap TV”.
That’s a lot of money to lay down for picture quality, but at least picture quality is something that by very definition you can see on the screen, if you’ve got some Ultra HD content handy.
LG supplied a USB drive with a selection of Ultra HD content with the review sample of the LG 65LA9700 Ultra HD TV I’ve been testing, and it’s in no way surprising that it looks excellent.
I’d be honestly shocked if it didn’t, simply because it’s vendor supplied. There’s no way they’d want to make a premium TV look bad. It’d be the functional equivalent of a car ad talking up how fast the new model family sedan was, but then noting that the doors fall off if you go over 25kph.
So I tested with the Ultra HD content I could get, which frankly isn’t that much. More on that later, but suffice it to say that with Ultra HD content, the LG 65LA9700 Ultra HD TV can look superb.
The practical reality for right now, however, is that you’re not going to be running a lot of UHDTV content through the LG 65LA9700 Ultra HD TV.
You’re going to be running material that is, at best, 1080p quality, so that’s by and large what I tested with, using the same scenes as were used to test the LG 55EA9800 Curved OLED TV. Specifically, scenes from Star Trek Into Darkness — such lens flare! — a WWE Blu-Ray PPV for the crowd scenes and skin tones and Highlander, because it’s a terribly uneven transfer, so good bits look good and imperfections tend to shine outwards.
The LG 65LA9700 Ultra HD TV promises that it upscales 1080P content to offer “image clarity even closer to ULTRA HD quality”. In my tests, I found I had to do a fair amount of contrast and sharpness tweaking to get really pleasant images, and there was no way that the LG 65LA9700 Ultra HD TV held a candle to the superb contrast of the LG Curved OLED. The LG 65LA9700 Ultra HD TV’s black levels were good, but the Curved OLED’s were excellent.
Still, once optimised, picture quality on the LG 65LA9700 Ultra HD TV was generally very good.
The design of the LG 65LA9700 Ultra HD TV is quite pleasant. The stand is minimalistic, and so is the tiny bezel, which ensures that most of what you’re staring at when watching content or playing games is indeed just the screen.
One factor that did genuinely surprise me with the LG 65LA9700 Ultra HD TV were the inbuilt speakers. There’s a small subwoofer that drops from the base, along with four front facing speakers.
The simple reality, especially at this price point is that you’re most likely going to marry this up to a decent sound system, and the LG 65LA9700 Ultra HD TV has Audio Return Channel built into one of its three HDMI inputs with precisely this in mind. Still, if for some reason you couldn’t or wouldn’t hook it up, you’ll still get eminently suitable sound for mid-size room viewing.
LG 65LA9700 Ultra HD TV: On the minus side
When I reviewed the LG Curved OLED, I noted that aside from the Magic Remote — and the LG 65LA9700 Ultra HD TV has one of those too — LG’s standard remote felt a little cheap and plastic for what’s meant to be a premium TV. The LG 65LA9700 Ultra HD TV has its own plastic remote, although it’s a smaller unit than that on the Curved OLED. It’s still remarkably generic, however.
The LG 65LA9700 Ultra HD TV includes a camera for Skype, which is fine, and also motion control, which is gimmicky and really doesn’t work that well at all.
The LG 65LA9700 Ultra HD TV also supports dual play, and comes with two pairs of bright orange glasses.
Leaving aside the fashion status of such specs, I struggled in testing to find a game that would work comfortably and display images correctly while wearing the specific Dual Play spectacles. Maybe that’s my eyes — and the eyes of my long suffering and now quite dizzy wife — but through Motorstorm Apocalypse and Gran Turismo, we hit consistent patches of ghosting of each other’s images, making gameplay frustrating rather than fun.
I’m a big fan of the inclusion of split screen within games, although in the online age it’s becoming increasingly a rarity, but at least from my observations, Dual Play on the LG 65LA9700 Ultra HD TV is a bit of a dud.
LG 65LA9700 Ultra HD TV: Pricing
LG’s RRP for the LG 65LA9700 Ultra HD TV is $7499.
LG 65LA9700 Ultra HD TV: Fat Duck verdict
That $7499 price point is an interesting one; not only is it substantially cheaper than the LG Curved OLED TV, but it’s also a substantial price drop from where Ultra HD TVs were when they first launched on the Australian scene twelve months ago. That’s encouraging, as it means Ultra HD TV is dropping in price.
Still, I’m left thinking pretty much the same thing as with the Curved OLED. The LG 65LA9700 Ultra HD TV is a lovely unit, but there’s not a whole lot of reason to dive in right now, unless you happen to think that $7,499 is a casual sum of money to spend on a TV.
The dearth of UHDTV content to play it on makes it more of a high premium HDTV than a genuinely useful purchase if you’re keen on 4K content. Yes, you’d be buying a bit of future proofing along the way, but the simple fact of the matter is that if you wait twelve months, market pressure and competition will deliver the same unit for a much lower price — and there might even be some UHDTV content worth buying at that point.