Review of the 3D LED LG 55LW6500 - The Best Passive 3D TV?
Choosing the Best 3D TV
When we decided to upgrade our old 42" projection TV to a new model it quickly became apparent that finding the best 3D TV was not going to be easy. The passive 3d LG 55LW6500 TV was one choice, as were TV's from Samsung, Panasonic, Sony and others but the variables were many and prices were very different. Size is always important, and we decided a 60" was what we wanted, but that isn't always available, either.
Other considerations included passive or active 3D systems, plasma or LED, WI-FI availability and several other possible options. Predictions are that nearly half of the TV's sold in 2012 will be 3D and although there isn't much available in programming yet, that is changing quickly - the choice to go with 3D was fairly easy (especially after seeing demonstrations in stores), but which one was best for us?
The following sections of this article will cover some thoughts on passive vs active 3D and plasma vs LED; if you have already made a decision there simply scroll down to the actual review of the LG 55LW6500 TV that is the primary focus of this article.
Passive or Active 3D TV?
When 3D first hit the theaters years ago it was via the two color glasses that everyone hated. It was an amusing experience but the picture was poor and the glasses impractical.
Enter the world of 3D TV. Technology improved to the point that 3D could be accomplished by superimposing two separate images on the TV screen, one for each eye. Special glasses were required that contain a polarized shutter in each lens, blinking faster than the eye can follow. The TV sends out a signal to the glasses, closing first one lens, then the other and synchronized with the picture on the screen. Unfortunately, the glasses are heavy and bulky, require batteries that last only a few hours and generally operate properly only when sitting up. They only work within 20' or so from the TV and only when pretty much directly in front of the screen. They are expensive; better glasses cost over $100 and to outfit 10 people can cost as much for glasses as the TV did. Some people suffer headache and disorientation from either the weight or the rapid flashing. They are not recommended for small children as they can affect the eyesight as the child develops.
Now, however. a passive 3D system is available. Each lens of the glasses is polarized circularly but differently. The scan lines on the TV produce a signal that will pass through only one of the two lenses, giving a different view to each eye and producing the 3D effect. These glasses are much lighter and cost only around $5. There are trade-offs, however. While the glasses will work from nearly any distance and at a wider angle to the screen, they also cut the actual definition of the screen (1080) in half. The brain combines the two to nearly a full 1080 and many people can't detect the difference but some report a small degradation in the picture. Passive glasses work at any angle, and this is a major plus to some; I often watch TV while lying down and active glasses won't permit that. I have not seen any warnings about small children, nausea or headache.
As we often entertain large groups we decided that, for us, a passive system was the way to go. Although Samsung is offering cheaper active glasses (at about $30) they are not rechargeable and would still add $300 to our cost. We also saw one active pair in a store that we were told a child had squeezed the lens on; they were destroyed as a result. We often have children around and could just see that happening. Or the dog finds a pair. Or the electronics in them simply wear out; I have seen quite a few pair on eBay for parts only as they have died or been broken in some way.
Plasma or LED for a 3D TV?
The next major decision was to go with plasma or 3D. Plasma screens have a richer color (to me at least) and a much quicker response time. A slower time can result in double imaging (ghosting) when objects are moving at high speed - high speed sporting events, action movies and many games result in seeing this problem.
LED TV's on the other hand, are much more efficient and typically cost less than half as much to operate. They usually have a longer life expectancy and for a $1500 purchase this can be important. The LED TV does not usually perform quite as well in a bright room and often costs a little more to buy. Many viewers report a sharper picture on the LED, but I could not detect it in any that I looked at, although I did note the difference in depth of color.
With the pros and cons adding up about the same to me we finally decided we would prefer a plasma, but not by much. The biggest concern was the ghosting but some LED 3D TV's have a faster refresh rate and programming that virtually eliminates this problem; when we finally chose the LG 55LW6500 the fact that it was an LED didn't play much part in the decision.
I have always loved the movie Avatar, but had never seen it in 3D. It was originally filmed in both 2D and 3D and the results are reported to be spectacular - this made it imperative that we have that movie in 3D to see on our new 3D TV. I have not been sorry that we bought it, to say the least.
Features of the LG 55LW6500
Although I won't go too much into individual features of this TV (full specifications are available at the LG web site) there are a few that brought a smile of anticipation to my face.
- WIFI. I expect to stream movies to my system; the WIFI makes it very simple to connect to our internet system to do so. The WIFI also makes it very simple to connect directly to various other equipment, such as our computers, and makes the files there available to the TV. It comes with a variety of apps as well.
- Remote Control. The TV comes with two remotes; a typical multi button remote and one with only 5 buttons that operates much like a Wii controller, simply point at the screen to move a pointer around. This sounded pretty handy.
- Simplink. This feature means that the TV can control other accessories (such as a 3d DVD player) from the TV and with the TV remote.
- Passive glasses. The set comes with 4 pair of passive glasses; typically this would cost more than $200 for other, active, systems,
- 2D to 3D conversion. While this feature will never equal the effects in a movie designed specifically for 3D (think Avatar) it will add considerably to many movies, sports programs and documentaries produced in 2D.
The LG 55LW6500 LED Passive 3D TV
Our final choice was the model 55LW6500 from LG that this article is all about. Although we wanted a 60", there are no 60" TVs available at this time that are also passive, and it seemed likely that when they do come available in a year or so they will be beyond my price range.
We spent many hours looking for the best price; in-store models were very expensive, generally around $2,000. Although we found many on-line throughout the country, the best final price (including shipping) was a deal from Amazon that allowed us to also purchase additional glasses (2 adult, 2 children and 2 clip on style) for free. eBay showed several examples, but were considerably higher in price.
Our desired location required a wall mount that would extend out a few inches; we chose the Cheetah APDAM2B articulating mount as far, far cheaper than what we could find in stores and mounting was a breeze. If you will need a wall mount the link is to a review of that item as well.
LG LW6500 series Televisions From Amazon
Observations on the LG LW6500 series TV
The picture is very, very good. Sharp and bright, with the automatic dimming working well. As night falls and the room darkens, so does the screen thus always providing a good level of brightness. Color is excellent as received from the factory, although it can of course be set manually. I have not noticed any of the ghosting common with LCD screens; the 240 refresh rate works well.
3D is excellent. At this point I have exactly one 3D DVD - Avatar, and it was astounding. One of the apps LG has provided was mostly a demo of various 3D clips, and once more was simply amazing. Some of the clips rival the demo discs in the store and were enjoyed by the children very much as they tried to catch balloons and soap bubbles coming at them. Realistic isn't the word. It was nice not having to worry should the smaller children damage the glasses - when they only cost around $5 it isn't a huge worry.
Our response to some of the other features:
- WIFI. The system hooked up easily to our system, although it kept saying it hadn't. I finally gave up after 3 tries putting the PIN number in, and suddenly it did connect several minutes later and there have been no problems since. Give it a little time to actually connect. The WIFI has been somewhat of a disappointment, though - it did not stream 3D videos well at all, with long pauses for buffering. Hard wiring with an ethernet cable has helped, but not solved the problem - I strongly suspect that our internet (DSL at 1.2 Mbps connection speed) simply isn't fast enough for this. We have an account with netflix, and the TV connected with no problem. An account was set up with Amazon, again with no problems. I haven't tried connecting to my computer, and probably won't, so can't comment on that feature. *Edit* - we finally broke down and went from a 1.2 Mbs DSL connection to a 7 Mbs connection. It has completely solved any streaming issues, and we have streamed several movies with no problems.
- Magic Remote. Operating similar to a Wii remote it is simple with only a very few buttons and I like it. I haven't even tried the regular remote that also comes with the unit - the magic remote is just too nice.
- Simplink. I installed an LG LHB 336 home theater system along with the new TV and have only partial success with controlling it from the TV. When the home theater was turned on the TV automatically came on with it, and I have found that the TV will sometimes control the theater sound volume, but not always. I need to study the manual and figure out what is happening; I will edit this review later when this has been done. *Edit* Again, all problems have been solved - I simply hadn't read instructions and didn't know what I was doing. In this case, I was linking to the DVD player in the home theater (it is only one unit) instead of the sound system. I could thus start and stop the player but not control the sound. Correctly linking the two solves the problem.
- 2D to 3D conversion. There is an option to convert 2D programs to 3D views and it can be nice. Some movies do not lend themselves to this while others do so very well. Some of the ocean scenes I have watched are impressive, although not in the class that a movie filmed in 3D is. Even the conversion tends to immerse the viewer better in a movie and I expect to use the feature often.
- Apps. At this point I have only looked at a handful, but LG has done a good job with providing some apps for nearly everyone, and more are always coming out. In addition there are already applications for Netflix, Vudu, Amazon and several other locations to rent movies and this is very nice for those that might want to do it (and have the connection speed to make it viable!).
- 3D glasses. We have several different styles of glasses on hand (a special deal at Amazon provided 6 more pair for free) ranging from childrens glasses to normal adult glasses to clip on for prescription glasses. We now have 10 pair of 3D glasses at no extra charge. They are lightweight, comfortable and pose no problems seeing around the room; there is no need to take them off to see what the kids are doing in the next room.
- Shipping. I should probably mention that the shipping from Amazon was excellent. A little slow (of course it was; all truck shipments are) but the delivery was on time and the delivery crew delivered it into the room requested, opened the packaging and plugged it in to verify it still worked after being shipped across country.
- Screen reflection. Our TV sits in a corner of the room, with a large south facing window only a couple of feet away and reflection from the window has always been a problem. Not an ideal location, but there isn't a lot of choice for us. We have not only venetian blinds on the window but draperies as well and it was still objectionable. This LG unit has far less reflection with the draperies open that our previous TV did with them closed. It is very impressive in this regard and I am extremely pleased with whatever has been done to reduce glare and reflection.
The bottom line is that we are very pleased and impressed with the passive 3D LG 55LW6500 TV. We got an excellent price from Amazon and are pleased and excited with the TV. It was a transaction with no glitches or problems and the product is superb - at least as good as anything we've seen in store demos. I can highly recommend it for anyone looking for a 3D TV and it is available in a variety of sizes to please anyone.