LG likes to put its OLED expertise in the spotlight, but that doesn’t mean you can lose sight of the LCD models. The LG 65SM9010PLA LCD TV (SM90 series) appears at the start with a very interesting set of specifications: IPS screen, full array local dimming background lighting and NanoCell color.
LG 65SM9010PLA LCD TV – specifications
- What: Ultra HD LCD TV, Full Array Local Dimming (4 x 12 segments)
- Screen format: 65 inch (165 cm), flat
- Connections: 4x HDMI (v2.1, eARC, ALLM, VRR, 4K / 2K HFR), 1x optical digital off , 3x USB, 1x headset, 2x antenna, Bluetooth, WiSA, AirPlay 2 (via firmware update)
- Extras: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, Technicolor, HFR, WiFi (802.11ac) built-in, WebOS 4.5, USB / DLNA media player, DVB-T2 / C / S2, CI + slot
- Dimensions: 1,455 x 906 x 324 mm (incl. base)
- Weight: 28.1 kg (incl. base)
- Consumption: 123 / 0.5 watt (Energy rating A +)
- Recommended retail price: 2,499 euros
LG 65SM9010PLA LCD TV – design
Despite its large 65-inch screen format, this LG has a fairly slim appearance. The design is fairly simple, with a narrow plastic frame in black. A silver accent line runs over the side of the frame around the device.
The screen appears to lie on the frame, a design aspect that we already encountered this year at Panasonic.
The sickle-shaped foot, finished in brushed metallic color, looks very beautiful. The narrow neck and attachment to the large device may be a bit tight. Even with a light hand you can make the entire structure wobble.
The LG 65SM9010PLA LCD TV has four HDMI 2.1 connections. They offer support for ALLM, VRR, eARC and HFR 4K. ( read here which functions you need). They are all on the side, together with two USB connections. A third USB connection, antenna connections, network, digital optical output, and the headphone output are at the back and point to the wall.
The headphone connection is very deep behind the device and is difficult to reach. An adapter cable that you connect and then keep within reach will solve that. Or you opt for Bluetooth headphones.
The 65SM9010PLA (SM90 series) is also equipped with WiSA (Wireless Speaker and Audio Association). That means that you can connect WiSA compatible speakers completely wireless, and configure them from the menus of the LG. Very useful if you want real surround and no hassle with cables, but the WiSA offer is still very limited (Klipsch, Harman Kardon and B&O).
LG 65SM9010PLA LCD TV – ease of use
WebOS got this year a new version: 4.5. The installation is largely unchanged, with one exception. You can now configure the remote during installation to also control your set-top box for digital TV (Belgium and the Netherlands). The ease of use remains excellent, the most important changes are simplifications to the interface.
The Quick menu where you, among other things, quickly adjust the image and sound mode now appears on the left instead of the right on the screen. From there you go to the general settings, or you go directly to them by pressing and holding the settings key.
With the Magic Remote you point to the screen and control the cursor with small movements appears on the screen. It is a handy way to control the TV although it may take some time to get used to it. However, the remote also has a full complement of keys so that you can use it in the traditional way if you wish.
The most important change compared to last year are the three keys below. One became a shortcut for Rakuten TV (the caption says “Movies”), and the other two keys are for “play” and “pause.”
The remote can now also be configured to use other connected devices. To set this up, go to the “Home Dashboard” and click on “Settings, Device Connection”. Or alternatively, via the general menu, “Connection, Device Connection”. We got that to work easily for our Sony Blu-ray player. The most functions can be reached via the ‘more actions’ button, recognizable by the three dots, it is at the bottom right of the numeric block.
LG 65SM9010PLA – features
Smart TV platform
The colorful and handy interface of WebOS remains one of our favorites. In the new version, things have been simplified. On the Home screen, the ribbon with icons takes up a little less space on the screen, and the number of icons is greatly reduced.
The external inputs are now grouped on a new screen, the ‘Home Dashboard’. . You reach that via the first tile on the Home screen, between the search function and TV. In the Home Dashboard you can also add smart devices that support OCF (Open Connectivity Foundation), making it an IoT dashboard.
In addition, you now get a preview of content, just like with Samsung. in a second ribbon, as soon as you select the YouTube or Netflix tile, for example. You can still switch tiles, but it is even easier to use ‘Intelligent Edit’, where the apps are simply arranged in order from most used to least used.
A firmware update (normally in June 2019) will also add support for Airplay 2 . But whether there will also be an Apple iTunes app (such as with Samsung), LG did not yet tell us.
For an extensive tour through all functions, you should read our overview article about WebOS4.5 .
The 65SM9010PLA (SM90 series) is equipped with a full set of TV tuners, and the ability to record to USB hard disk. The media player plays all known music formats, including ALAC and FLAC. It is also extremely versatile for video, it plays all of our test formats, both in SDR and HDR and with all subtitles. With that he supplies one of the best media players on the market.
LG’s ThinQ AI has to provide an extensive list of voice commands, but for the time being the support of Dutch remains limited. You can already record searches, and then you get results for YouTube, Netflix, or you can search the internet. But you have to be patient to adjust the TV settings. LG announced that this is (for the time being) planned for September. The availability of Google Assistant is not yet planned.
LG 65SM9010PLA – Image quality
For its LCD TVs, LG continues to work mainly with IPS screens. Presumably they opt for the wider viewing angle that the IPS panel delivers, since the OLED lineup is the choice par excellence if you want a deep black value. The TV is also equipped with a Full Array backlight that uses local dimming to improve contrast.
Here you will find an explanation of the most important picture settings and tips for setting up your TV. With the basic settings we have come to the following settings for this TV:
|General||Advanced operation||Image Options|
|Image Mode: Cinema
Aspect Ratio Setting: Original / Scan: On
Energy Saving: Off
AI Image: On
|Dynamic Contrast: Off / low
Dynamic tone mapping: Off / On
Super resolution: Low
Color range: Auto
Gamma: 2.2 / BT.1886
White balance: Warm2
|Noise reduction: Low *
MPEG Noise reduction: Low *
Smooth Gradation: Low
Black level: Automatic
Real Cinema: On
Motion Eye Care: Off
Dimming local LED: Medium
TruMotion: Bright (or adjusted)
Explanation of main settings;
- The Cinema setting provides the be first start. The ISF presets are an alternative for those who want day and night versions.
- Dynamic Tonemapping shows considerably better white detail, at the cost of a bit of clarity, you can leave it activated.
- The effect of Superresolution and AI Image is very limited. You can keep it safely activated.
- Noise reduction and MPEG noise reduction are best activated when you start from a poor source (old DVDs or low quality YouTube).
- TruMotion: Clear gave the best results. Do not turn it off, you will lose too much detail. If you choose a personal setting, you can set deblur between 8 and 10, and dejudder between 7 and 9.
General image properties and image processing
The 65SM9010PLA is equipped with the second generation Alpha7 processor. It delivers excellent results for deinterlacing, and quickly and reliably recognizes various video and film frame rates. Knurled edges or combing effects are therefore very rare. The noise reduction provides excellent results for random noise. With MPEG noise (blocking), the processor has a harder time. Just like on the C9, the “Smooth gradations” settings can now be set separately. You remove subtle color bands with it. Worse cases as often visible in low-quality material are lagging behind.
The upscaling is excellent, but the improvements of “AI Image” seem to us to be very limited, just like on the C9. The sharpness of motion is solid, although you lose a little bit of detail in fast-moving images. The best setting is ‘Clear’, with which you get a part back without annoying image artifacts. “Fluent” makes too many problems visible with complex images. A personal attitude can be a good alternative. The Black Frame Insertion technique (Motion Pro) is best off, it creates visible flicker, and provides little extra detail.
The IPS panel of the SM90 series delivers like expect a moderate contrast, the result is around 1,000: 1, and with local dimming that can improve slightly. The background lighting is subdivided into 4 × 12 segments, but the effect thereof is unfortunately visible. In dark scenes with points of light such as our Gravity test, the background segments lightly dance.
In the HDR image above (moreover overexposed) you can clearly see the segmentation. In practice, it is less visible, but remains visible.
The SM90, however, had a more disturbing problem. He creates clear color bands in dark scenes at the transition from dark to light. They are very visible and unfortunately also disturbing.
The above image illustrates the effect. Ignore the moire effects on the reference image on the right (Philips 55OLED803), and the fine pixelation on the image on the left (LG 65SM9010), both of which are the result of the photo. On the left you see clear color bands running over Sam’s nose and forehead. You also see clear problems next to his face. Another striking example below, where out of focus Sam’s face suddenly gets a distinct red border. On the right you see that the reference image is indeed very blurry and compressed, but the coloring is clearly different.
The calibration of the device in Cinema mode is good. The gray scale is neutral, and shows no pronounced problems. The gamma value of 2.4 gives a slightly better contrast, which is allowed on this IPS screen.
Color reproduction and skin tones are good, at least with clear images. With dark content the above mentioned problem prevails.
Just like its other top and midrange models, the LG is equipped with HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision. The support for Technicolor HDR remains useless (no content) until further notice. We also wanted HDR10 + added, so that LG also offers all HDR standards .
LG does offer an adjustable “Dynamic Tonemapping” that imitates the effect of HDR10 +. The result generally produces more powerful images, with no obvious adverse effects, so we recommend that you keep this activated. Just like on the C9, we did see that even with dynamic tone mapping activated, the TV does not show any clearer white detail than what the metadata indicates. Strictly speaking, that is only a problem if the metadata of the video is erroneous and considerably lower than the actual video content. But it seemed logical to us that LG should not have done this.
The screen of the 65SM9010PLA delivers a good peak luminance of around 1,305 nits on a 10% window. On a completely white screen, the maximum is 520 nits. That is excellent, and ensures images with considerable impact. You only enjoy it to the maximum with clear content. The low contrast of the IPS screen can provide clear halos for dark content with very clear accents.
The color range is good: 90% DCI-P3 and 66% Rec.2020, which is in line with other LCD TVs. . The calibration is fine, although the gray scale tends slightly to cyan in the clearest shades. Moreover, the brightness is too high over a large part of the curve. But given that this TV is clearly aiming more at a well-lit living room, that is not so bad.
Reflections and viewing angles
The viewing angle of the IPS screen is fine. The image loses further contrast, but shifts relatively little in color. Because the gamma curve is well preserved, you also have a good view from a wide angle. The LG repels reflections well, but attention to the correct lighting remains required.
In cinema mode we measure a lag of 89.9 ms, as with all manufacturers this is quite high. In lag game mode the lag drops to 17.8 ms and that is a fantastic result. The SM90 supports ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode). When ALLM is activated, the TV automatically switches to game mode when it receives an ALLM signal. You can then safely switch to a different image mode, while maintaining the low input lag. ALLM therefore remembers that you prefer that mode.
LG 65SM9010PLA – Audio quality
The 65SM9010PLA supports Dolby Atmos and the 2.2 channel 40 Watt sound system seems to lean strongly in its performance with the OLED C9. That means that you can count on excellent audio quality. There is a lot of punch in the large chassis, and film soundtracks get enough volume and a decent bass line for effect. The SM90 can also play hard for music. We preferred the Dolby Atmos setting, the cinema and the music preset. With “One Touch Sound Tuning” and the Magic Remote you optimize the sound profile based on room acoustics.
LG 65SM9010PLA – Conclusion
The 65SM9010PLA (SM90 series) shows that local dimming can improve the black performance on an IPS screen. , but also that there are limitations. The screen is clearly aimed at looking in a well-lit living room. After all, with darkening you can quickly see the segment boundaries of the background lighting, certainly with HDR images. The most striking, however, are the color problems in the black detail, where visible color bands often arise.
With clear content and / or in a well-lit room, the SM9010 does achieve good results. The screen provides a lot of brightness and can provide powerful HDR images. The color reproduction is good and the viewing angle is great. This television is equipped with HDMI 2.1 connections with a very large featureset. WebOS 4.5 is a fun and useful smart TV environment with extensive options. And finally, the device delivers powerful audio that will suffice for a lot of viewers for both film and music.