The LG’s initial auto-setup introduces you to the Magic Remote. This small, wand-shaped device looks unlike any remote you’ve ever used. More important, it doesn’t work like one either. As with the remote that comes with the Wii game console, you wiggle the Magic Remote itself to move a cursor on the screen. The action proved much more refined and responsive than previous generations of this technology. In fact, after a few minutes, I found it to be quite intuitive. Perhaps the most striking thing about the Magic Remote is that it has no number buttons. What were those for again? I’ve forgotten. Sadly, shouts of “Expecto Patronum!” while holding the remote did not reveal any ghostly animals.
The TV’s menus for the most part reflect LG’s new control interface. A colorful GUI with large icons appears when you press the Home button on the remote. Here you can select inputs, go directly to Internet streaming options, and generally gain fast access to all the TV’s numerous features. Setup menus are still old school, though, and I found selecting the smallish icons to adjust contrast, brightness, and so on to be a little awkward, but not annoyingly so. The Cinema and ISFccc Expert1 presets offer similar out-of- the-box accuracy, though both still require tweaking with a Blu-ray or DVD setup disc. Expert1 has more detailed adjustment for sharpness (separate horizontal and vertical, instead of combined), so I used that one for my testing and for calibration.
I decided to start out my testing with 3D. I’d been curious to do a full test on a passive 3D display for a while now, as my beat is usually projectors, nearly all of which use active 3D tech. With active 3D, you have to wear fairly cumbersome shutter glasses that in some cases require batteries. While these have gotten better, they’re still bulky. The “shutter” aspect is exactly what it sounds like: Liquid crystal material in the lenses twists in sync with the TV, blocking light so that each eye sees only the image intended for it, while the other eye, ideally, gets nothing. With passive, both eyes see light all the time, although the filtering effect of the FPR limits maximum resolution to 1,920 x 540 pixels per eye.
Starting out with last year’s abysmal but pretty The Three Musketeers, I didn’t see a real decrease in apparent resolution from my seat about 8.5 feet away. But I did notice two artifacts caused by the FPR’s interlacing of the 3D image. The first, which was visible on text and on some diagonal edges against bright backgrounds, was a jagged stair-step effect. The second — and its effect was directly related to seating distance — was an interlace pattern where every other line appeared dark. These are the two main side effects of passive 3D.
That said, I found 3D on the LG to be far more relaxing to watch than 3D on TVs that use active tech. The image was bright, the glasses lightweight. It was just a more pleasing 3D experience. With active shutter glasses, I don’t see actual flickering — a common criticism levied at the technology — but there is a sense that something is going on. Passive 3D, in contrast, just seems easier on the eyes. So there are tradeoffs, but I can see a valid case being made for either tech.
The 3D effect with Musketeers was quite good, with a decent amount of depth and no noticeable crosstalk. The airship battle at the end proved especially entertaining — a welcome momentary distraction from a script that made me want to bludgeon myself.
Like all LCDs, the 55LM7600 blurs fine details on scenes with motion. The TruMotion De-Judder control helps this somewhat, but it also adds an unnatural smoothness to the image when displaying film-sourced 24-frames-per-second content. The User setting lets you fi ne-tune the level of De-Judder and De-Blur, but with De-Judder all the way down and De-Blur all the way up, there was still some blurring with motion (though none of the ultra-smooth, artificial-looking “soap opera effect” seen with film-sourced content).
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