LG 55LW5600 55″ 3D Edge Lit LED LCD HDTV

Introduction to the LG 55LW5600 55″ LED LCD HDTV

I first saw the passive 3D LCD displays at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show and was immediately drawn in by their crisp bright displays and limited crosstalk. Fellow Secrets team member Chris Heinonen and I recently took a look at the 55LW5600, a 55” 3D LED LCD HDTV from LG.

The LG 5600 uses a passive 3D system, which uses a Film Pattern Retarder to allow the use of simple polarized glasses. The Active Retarder is basically another layer in front of the LCD panel that alternates circular polarized light – clockwise for one eye, and counter-clockwise for the other. It is very similar to how RealD works in the theater; in fact, the same 3D glasses can be used with the LG. This is a major selling point for people who frequently have a group of friends over to watch movies and play games. Being able to hand out eight pairs of 3D glasses to everyone in the room is not something easily accomplished with expensive active shutter glasses. Slap on a solid price point and that makes for a pretty enticing offer to step into the world of 3D displays.

LG 55LW5600 55″ 3D Edge Lit LED LCD HDTV Specifications

  • Design: LED Edge Lit LCD 3D HDTV
  • Native Resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Maximum Refresh Rate: 120 Hz
  • Screen Size: 55″ Diagonal
  • Input Signal Compatibility: 480i/p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p24/60Hz
  • Audio: Main – 10 watts x 2, Digital Output Toslink (Dolby Digital, 2-channel PCM)
  • Inputs: 2 Composite, 2 Component, 15-pin VGA, 4 HDMI 1.4, 2 USB, 1 Ethernet, 1 SD Memory Card Slot, Ethernet, RS232
  • Internet Apps: Netflix, Vudu, YouTube, Amazon Video, CinemaNow
  • Power Consumption: 159 Watts In Use (average); <0.1 Watt in Standby
  • Dimensions: 33.5″ H x 50.9″ W x 13.0″ Deep with Stand
  • Weight 69.7 Pounds
  • 4 Sets of 3D Glasses Included
  • MSRP $2,399 USA
  • LG

Design and Setup of the LG 55LW5600 55″ 3D Edge Lit LED LCD HDTV

At just 1.2” deep, the LW5600 is thin, very thin. In fact, I’m not sure why anyone would even need a thinner TV than this and anything smaller probably wouldn’t have room for a standard HDMI connection!  The unit is gloss black with a slim rectangular base. No distracting silver aesthetics, just a nice clean design. The LG is just under 60 pounds with the stand, so unless you are freakishly strong with long arms, having a friend to help move it is still necessary, but at least you won’t break your back like with old CRT sets.

Setting up the display is fairly user intuitive with LG’s unique graphic interface. There are several display options including standard and the always nauseating “vivid” mode, but we skipped straight to the ISF Expert mode and immediately noticed a much better picture. There are also the standard stretch and zoom modes, but we selected “Just Scan” which is a one-to-one pixel mapping. One negative aspect of the menu design in the LG is that there is no button that quickly takes you to Setup for adjusting the display settings.

After the display was hooked up and had warmed up, we proceeded to calibrate it using a calibrated i1 Display2, ChromaPure 2.2 Software, and a Lumagen Radiance Mini3D.

The LG 55LW5600 55″ 3D Edge Lit LED LCD HDTV

Since I haven’t had much experience with 3D displays at home, checking out some 3D content was most pertinent. First up was IMAX Under the Sea, a collection of underwater life and scenery. It took a minute for my eyes to adjust but one they did the 3D effect was fairly solid. Some shots had too much activity happening “in front” of the TV and this made focusing more difficult. Unfortunately, this is also where we first noticed the downside of a passive 3D system. Each eye can only see 1920×540 pixels, and so you are losing half of the horizontal resolution in every frame. This was easily noticeable on any angles, as you have very visible aliasing, or stair-stepping, caused by the lack of resolution and inability to correct for it. The active retarder anomalies continued to pop up as we viewed other content, it may not bother everyone, but it was a bit distracting for us.

Next up was Resident Evil: Afterlife, a film shot natively with 3D cameras, not with a post-process 2D to 3D conversion. The images were slick and the 3D effects certainly added to the entertainment factor. However, the look of the film was very artificial. In fact, it felt like I was watching a video game. The LG set has a frame creating mode called True-Motion, which creates new frames of video in order to smooth out the image. Some people like this; I however, cannot stand it. Watching 3D content looked very much like True-Motion was turned on, but when going to the menu, it said it was turned off. After a bit of research, it was discovered that the LG processes all 3D signals at 60 frames per second. So in the case of film material shot at 24 fps, the LG was smoothing out the image with added frames of video. Unfortunately, there is no way to currently turn off this feature.

When watching a bit of Tron Legacy, the same 60 fps smoothness was just too distracting to fully enjoy the visuals. The 3D effect tended to make me feel more like I was watching something fake. I never had that feeling of immersion, like I was looking through a window. Additionally, the heavy use of CG and bright colors on black backgrounds made the aliasing very apparent.

Where 3D really shines in my opinion, is with video games. Your brain already knows it is looking at something fake and computer generated, so it is not fighting with reality. I find it easier to get lost in the made up world of a video game that with 3D images of real life. We played Killzone 3 on the PS3 and although some detail, resolution and frame rate was lost compared to the 2D version, the game looked fantastic and everyone in the room was wowed by the 3D experience. The same went for Wipeout HD and we all felt this was the only way Wipeout was meant to be played.

Aside from exceptional 3D movies like Avatar, for me the future of 3D is definitely in the world of video games. There are more possibilities with how you interact and the level of immersion with games than with movies. Devices like Kinect are already recording your movements in 3D so it seems like a natural progression that the images you are interacting with would be 3D as well.

As a 3D gaming display, the LW5600 did a very good job. It’s passive system allowed 8 people in the room to partake in the experience, and a fine experience it was.

Since most viewing is still going to be done in 2D, we watched some other content on the display as well. Baraka is still as detailed as almost any Blu-ray disc can be, and on the LG it looked very nice. Post-calibration the images were very natural and while some might feel it lacked a bit of “pop” that other displays can generate, at times it almost felt like looking at a window with how accurate it appeared. If you got too close to the screen, the Retarder would often be visible as imparting a bit of texture to the image, taking you away from the “looking through a window” feeling that shots could otherwise have.

The Blu-ray version of Casablanca looked wonderful as well. With the grayscale corrected for, the black and white image looked very good without a red or blue tint to it. While not the sharpest image available, the details from the classic film came out and the windowbox bars vanished thanks to the adaptive edge-lighting of the LG display. While passive 3D might have had some issues with resolution, there was none of that with 2D and the resulting image looked great, provided you were not close enough to see the Retarder texture.

The LG 55LW5600 55″ 3D Edge Lit LED LCD HDTV On The Bench

LG has been very good recently about having ISF Expert modes that allow for more control over calibration than some displays, but also provide a good starting point for users. Out of the box, the ISF Expert Mode had a grayscale that was on the warm side, with an average temperature of 5,800 and a dE of 10.7. The colors were also better than expected with an average dE of 4.8 for the primaries and secondary’s, and it had a very good average gamma that was almost 2.2.

The LG offers two ways to adjust the grayscale, with either 2 points or 10 points to adjust. Despite the temptation for extra control, I found that after adjusting the 10 points to be correct that the gamma was totally destroyed, averaging 1.5 even when the menu system was set to a gamma of 2.4. Using the 2-point method, it took almost no time to calibrate the 80% IRE pattern, and the 20% pattern already had a dE of 1.6 and needed no work. After this was done the grayscale had a dE of 1.2 and a gamma of almost exactly 2.2.

Adjusting colors was not quite as easy as LG only provides color and tint controls for each color, and not the full set of Hue/Saturation/Lumination or Red/Green/Blue controls for each color that other vendors do. This made it harder to really dial in the colors, but we were able to reduce the average dE for the primaries and secondary’s from 4.8 to 2.0. Blue had the highest dE of 3.9 but as this is the color that the eye is least sensitive to errors in, this is a very good overall result.

We did notice some strange behavior in how the sharpness controls worked with the luma and chroma patterns on Spears and Munsil. If the sharpness controls dropped below a certain level, a 1 pixel line would become hazy with edges around it and the luma zone plate pattern would be a smooth gray at the edges, instead of sharp all the way out. Keeping both controls at 50 seemed to be ideal, which is the default. However, if they were this high than the chroma plate showed a lack of fine chroma detail in 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 modes, but showed all the detail in RGB mode. Dropping the sharpness controls allowed the chroma detail to pass in the YCbCr modes, but then caused a loss of luma resolution. This was very odd behavior, but we would suggest keeping those controls at 50, since luma resolution is more important than chroma, but set all your devices to be RGB output instead of YCbCr for the LG set.

Once calibrated, the LG had a very nice, natural image and we didn’t notice haloing or other issues from the LED localized dimming either. It did provide us with pitch-black letterbox borders on scope films and a very nice overall image.

Conclusions About the LG 55LW5600 55″ 3D Edge Lit LED LCD HDTV

The 3D display market is a tough one to be a part of. People have yet to be convinced that 3D is the future of home entertainment and are very skeptical when buying a new TV. Do they really need 3D? That is certainly up to the consumer, but LG has released a very capable display that puts of a very nice 2D and 3D image on screen. Those consumers that want to host events like the Super Bowl, or just have friends over to watch a movie no longer need to be put off by the ridiculous cost of active shutter glasses.

The LW5600 can be picked up for a competitive price along with plenty of passive glasses for you and your friends. The LG looks good out of the box under the ISF Expert setting, but it looks even better after professionally calibrated. I would certainly suggest checking it out in person before purchasing one, to make sure the issues we had with the 3D resolution and the Retarder texture aren’t going to be a problem for you. Those issues aside, the LG is a very nice display.