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A Review of The LG SM9000 LCD 2019 4K HDR NanoCell TV (55SM9000) (65SM9000) (75SM9000) (86SM9000)

by on November 7, 2019
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Stephan Jukic – November 7, 2019

Overview

LG’s 4L LCD TVs (as opposed to the brand’s exquisite OLED models) are all IPS editions. The IPS stands for their type of LCD display technology, which delivers excellent viewing angles but low black levels and contrast. This is what the SM9000 offers and while its low contrast and black uniformity are problems of this TV, it is nonetheless an excellent LCD TV model in almost all other regards, with great color performance, strong motion handling and powerful HDR delivery. The SM9000 is also very bright, which helps offset the weak blacks. The inclusion of HDMI 2.1 is a great bonus too.

Positives

• Excellent gaming connectivity
• Strong motion handling
• Solid color performance
• Excellent viewing angles
• Incredible display brightness

Negatives

• IPS contrast and black levels
• Poor dark room performance
• Native Audio is mediocre

Bottom Line

IPS TVs are great for users who want wide viewing angles without having to spend extra money on OLED technology. The SM9000 is an exceptional 4K TV by IPS standards and if those viewing angles are what you prefer to deep, rich black levels, we seriously recommend this model because it’s really good in almost all of its other specs for color, brightness and motion. It’s also decently priced.

A Review of The LG SM9000 LCD 2019 4K HDR NanoCell TV (55SM9000) (65SM9000) (75SM9000) (86SM9000)

Check out LG’s Excellent Nano Cell 4K HDR LCD TV, the 2019 SM9000 for sale at Amazon

4.7 – 4 Reviews

Also Read:
Our Comprehensive review of Samsung’s most affordable 2019 QLED TV, the Q60R
Our detailed hands-on review of Samsung’s incredible new 8K HDR TV, the Q900
Our comprehensive review of Samsung’s excellent premium Q80R QLED 4K HDR TV
Also Read:
Our In-depth review of Samsung’s ultra-bright flagship 2018 Q8FN 4K HDR TV

 

What We Liked about the 2019 SM9000 4K TV

Despite its black level and contrast performance, the SM9000 4K HDR TV has a ton to like about it. This 4K HDR TV does indeed deliver great HDR support via its strong color performance, excellent brightness and other specs. It’s also a wonderful HDR, 4K and regular gaming TV for consoles or PC. In other words, there’s lots to recommend about it. Here is our breakdown of the most important things.

Gaming connectivity & motion handling

One thing we noticed very quickly about the SM9000 is that it sticks to LG’s 2019 pattern of giving its 4K TVs excellent gaming connectivity. At maintaining extremely high responsiveness and superbly low input lag for console gaming at assorted frame rates, color settings and HDR or resolution modes, this TV absolutely excels. The overall result is very impressive and easy to enjoy. The SM9000’s gaming smoothness is further augmented by excellent motion handling, which while not being as strong as what LG’s OLED TVs deliver with their razor-sharp pixel response time, is still fantastic by LCD TV standards.

A Review of The LG SM9000 LCD 2019 4K HDR NanoCell TV (55SM9000) (65SM9000) (75SM9000) (86SM9000)

Smart TV Platform

Moving on, the smart TV platform of all LG TVs today is definitely worth mentioning here. We love WebOS and the latest, version 4.5 is particularly superb for its ease of use, elegance and the sheer quantity of smart TV functionality it comes with, including support for voice control, Google Assistant and access to a huge selection of 4K and other media apps. WebOS is also really fluid, with few pauses or freeze-ups.

Solid color performance

The LG SM9000 delivers strong color performance on most fronts and this dramatically helps this TV at offsetting its weak black levels and contrast. Colors look nicely saturated, accurate and support for wide color gamut and 10-bit color in HDR mode is generally great. Deep shadowy color scene playback in this TV is also remarkably decent despite the SM9000’s weak black levels and light-bleed due to the IPS display technology.

A Review of The LG SM9000 LCD 2019 4K HDR NanoCell TV (55SM9000) (65SM9000) (75SM9000) (86SM9000)

Powerful brightness and overall HDR capability

The most impressively useful spec of the SM9000 HDR TV is its high level of display brightness. This is one robustly bright 4K TV when set to HDR mode and it also delivers fairly decent SDR brightness. The HDR brightness of the SM9000 is particularly effective at mitigating the effects of this editions low contrast ratio and black level, and at its brightest, the SM9000 can exceed 900 nits of light output for strong HDR highlights. Color conserves well during bright scenes too, which is nice to see.

Excellent viewing angles and movie watching usability

One of the great benefits of IPS display technology in 4K TVs is the very wide, clear viewing angles it provides. Typical 4K LCD TVs with VA panels may deliver much more beautiful deep black levels but if you have a room layout in which some of the seating is spread wide before where the TV sits, then IPS is an excellent choice. For this reason, the SM9000 is a great TV for living rooms or dens in which lots of people will be watching at the same time. By IPS TV standards, it’s a fantastic choice.

A Review of The LG SM9000 LCD 2019 4K HDR NanoCell TV (55SM9000) (65SM9000) (75SM9000) (86SM9000)

Check out LG’s Excellent Nano Cell 4K HDR LCD TV, the 2019 SM9000 for sale at Amazon

4.7 – 4 Reviews
Also Read:
Our In-depth review of TCL’s new 6-Series 4K HDR TV, The Most Affordable Awesome Premium TV of 2019
Our In-depth review of Samsung’s ultra-bright flagship 2018 Q8FN 4K HDR TV

What We Didn’t Like

There are also a few weaknesses in the LG SM9000 editoon 4K TV, but most of them are surprisingly minor. The most obvious and possibly problematic of this editions weaknesses is its poor black/contrast performance but if you take these aside, we’re talking about a surprisingly problem-free 4K HDR TV.

Weak black levels and contrast

The most obvious and important weakness of the SM9000 IPS 4K UHD TV is the black performance it renders. With IPS technology this is a given, so it sort of comes with the territory, but it’s worth mentioning if you want a 4K TV that does indeed render deep, rich blacks and strong contrast. If that’s the case, you’re definitely better off spending your cash on an OLED edition from LG itself or on a 4K HDR TV with VA display technology (there are many to choose from since most TVs come with VA display). The contrast in the SM9000 is almost abysmally low by modern 4K TV standards.

A Review of The LG SM9000 LCD 2019 4K HDR NanoCell TV (55SM9000) (65SM9000) (75SM9000) (86SM9000)

Crappy local dimming technology

Local dimming is the ability to selectively deactivate LED backlights by zone behind a TV’s outer display for the sake of deeper, stronger black levels. In an IPS 4K TV it would be an especially useful feature to have but because strong local dimming depends on many specific, precise dimming zones across a full array of many LEDs, the SM9000 falls flat on this technology. Its backlight can’t provide nearly enough dimming precision to decently increase contrast despite this TV having local dimming as a “feature”.

Weak Audio

Like most 4K LCD TVs in all price ranges that we’ve reviewed to-date, the LG SM9000 editions offer mediocre native audio. The sound quality is better than we’ve seen it in many similarly priced 4K HDR TVs and it works great for casual TV viewing, but for audio more serious than that, like rich movie sound and deep bass, it’s a good idea to buy an external speaker system or soundbar.

Also Read:
Our in-depth review of Sony’s X950G 4K UHD HDR LCD TV
The absolute best 4K UHD HDR Gaming TVs of 2019

Value for Price & Bottom Line

For its fairly reasonable price tag, the LG SM9000 is a great TV with a ton of value inside it. For anyone who wants wide viewing angles as a priority and doesn’t mind some weakness on contrast, this 4K TV is a superb deal, better than any IPS 4K TV we’ve reviewed in a long while, and worth its price. We usually recommend VA TVs over IPS editions, but again, if you want wide viewing angles without spending on OLED prices, this is your best choice.

A Review of The LG SM9000 LCD 2019 4K HDR NanoCell TV (55SM9000) (65SM9000) (75SM9000) (86SM9000)

Check out LG’s Excellent Nano Cell 4K HDR LCD TV, the 2019 SM9000 for sale at Amazon

4.7 – 4 Reviews
ALSO READ:
Sony’s Stunningly good but reasonably priced A8G OLED 4K HDR TV
Our in-depth review of LG’s C9 4K UHD HDR OLED TV
Our in-depth review of LG’s stunningly good & surprisingly affordable B9 4K OLED HDR TV
Our in-depth review of LG’s Fantastic premium E9 OLED 4K HDR TV

Key LG SM9000 Specs

• Screen sizes: 55 inch 55SM9000, 65 inch 65SM9000, 75 inch 75SM9000, 86 inch 86SM9000 (TV being reviewed is 55 inches)
• Smart TV: WebOS 4.5 2019 Edition
• HEVC (H.265) Included: Yes
• VP9 Included. Yes
• HD to UHD to 4K upscaling: Yes
• HDCP 2.2 Compliance: Yes
• HDR Support: Yes, HDR10, Hybrid Log Gamma, Dolby Vision
• Refresh Rate: 120Hz native refresh rate
• Screen Lighting: LCD Display with direct backlighting & local dimming
• Resolution: 3840 × 2160 pixels 4K UHD
• Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes both built-in WiFi and Ethernet port
• Remotes: LG smart TV remote with voice control
• Connectivity: 4 HDMI ports (all of them 2.1 and with HDCP 2.2), 3 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Digital Audio Out
• Contrast Ratio: 970:1 (native, real maximum contrast with local dimming)
• Absolute Maximum Peak Brightness: 920 nits (cd/m2)
• 3D Technology: N/A

Display Performance Metrics

In the following sections and subsections, we get down to the more technically detailed meat of our review of the SM9000 LG 4K TV. This is where we describe all of the most important performance measurements of this TV and explain how they make it a great performer or a not so good edition. This means that in the details below, you’ll get a no-nonsense breakdown of how well the SM9000 delivers the technologies that are the most important for making sure that this 4K HDR TV offers up a high level of picture quality, good motion handling, powerful connectivity and other key specs.

A Review of The LG SM9000 LCD 2019 4K HDR NanoCell TV (55SM9000) (65SM9000) (75SM9000) (86SM9000)

 

We’ve based the following on our measurements from our reviewed unit but the numbers and stats below accurately reflect what they should be like for any normally functioning editions of the LG SM9000. Only slight variations might be the case with editions of different sizes, and if an edition you buy seriously deviates from these metrics, it might be mis-calibrated or possibly even defective.

Black Level, uniformity, Local Dimming and Contrast:

Black level, black uniformity, contrast and local dimming (, in which backlight LEDs behind the screen are selectively turned off in specific sections for deeper onscreen black levels) are extremely important because these specs are crucial for high perceived color vibrancy, strong HDR, and good realism in how content looks on the screen. Their importance is especially high for HDR content looking vibrant and rich. That said, these specs are also what the SM9000 is weakest on, partly without fault and partly because LG screwed up a bit.

As an IPS TV, the SM9000 simply can’t match the sheer rich black levels, strong contrast ratios and black uniformity of LCD TVs with VA panels. That’s not a defect so much a tradeoff of a display technology that’s designed for much better viewing angles instead of strong black levels. On this we don’t blame LG but if you do indeed want those strong black levels and high contrast ratios, then the SM9000 is not a good choice. This TV manages a native contrast ratio of no more than 950:1 and even with local dimming activated, it never gets above 970:1.

A Review of The LG SM9000 LCD 2019 4K HDR NanoCell TV (55SM9000) (65SM9000) (75SM9000) (86SM9000)

Where we can blame LG is on how they built the SM9000’s local dimming technology. This is one feature that, if done well, could allow for an IPS TV –with its excellent viewing angles- to also still offer excellent, deep black levels and contrast. Unfortunately, because the SM9000 doesn’t have full-array LED backlighting with precise multi-zone local dimming, even activating its available local dimming doesn’t really improve anything on contrast or black depth all that much.

Also Read:
Our In-depth guide to todays absolute best streaming media devices and platforms
 Our In-depth review of Samsung’s ultra-bright flagship 2019 Q90R 4K HDR TV
Also Read:
Our Comprehensive review of Samsung’s most affordable 2019 QLED TV, the Q60R

Brightness:

Where the SM9000 does really compensate for its IPS black levels is in the level of brightness it can output. This TV delivers only modestly good peak and sustained brightness for ordinary content, but when set to HDR mode, it can get very luminous indeed, with a peak brightness of over 900 nits at one point. High brightness is especially crucial for high quality HDR content rendering and for display of vibrant colors in all content, so on this front the SM9000 does a very good job. Also, its high brightness offsets the perception of weak contrast and black levels when you’re watching a movie or playing games on this particular 4K HDR TV.

A Review of The LG SM9000 LCD 2019 4K HDR NanoCell TV (55SM9000) (65SM9000) (75SM9000) (86SM9000)

The settings below bear out exactly what we mean about both HDR and SDR brightness.

LG SM9000 2019 Edition SDR Brightness

  • Overall SDR peak brightness for normal content: 345 nits
  • Peak 2% display area display SDR brightness: 160 nits
  • Peak 10% display area SDR brightness: 255 nits
  • Peak 100% display area SDR brightness: 334 nits
  • Sustained 10% SDR brightness: 263 nits
  • Sustained 100% SDR brightness: 345 nits

LG SM9000 4K TV HDR Brightness

  • Overall HDR peak brightness for normal content: 474 nits
  • Peak 2% display area display HDR brightness: 459 nits
  • Peak 10% display area HDR brightness: 923 nits
  • Peak 100% display area HDR brightness: 420 nits
  • Sustained 10% HDR brightness: 324 nits
  • Sustained 100% HDR brightness: 432 nits

Color Delivery:

The SM9000 4K UHD TV from LG is capable of very vibrant, good color delivery for both SDR colors and HDR settings. For HDR content, this particular LG LCD TV offers strong performance without being exceptionally good and its 10-bit color rendering is great. Color vibrancy for ordinary SDR content of the kind found in a majority of TV programming, streaming media or broadcast TV sources is also rendered very well, with rich colors showing when they should and quite accurately. In terms of color accuracy across the board, the SM9000 is strong performer after a bit of calibration, though its rendering of color during dark, shadowy scenes is a bit weak, along with its rendering of the color blue in particular during very bright onscreen content.

A Review of The LG SM9000 LCD 2019 4K HDR NanoCell TV (55SM9000) (65SM9000) (75SM9000) (86SM9000)

Here are the LG SM9000’s key color accuracy specs too. As you can see, they’re quite good after just a bit of picture settings calibration (the lower the delta e and gamma numbers below, the better):

  • Pre-calibration White Balance delta-E: 4.43
  • Pre-calibration Color delta-E: 3.20
  • Pre-calibration Gamma: 2.04
  • Post-calibration White Balance delta-E: 0.19
  • Post-calibration Color delta-E: 1.4
  • Post-calibration Gamma: 2.09
  • Wide Color Gamut: 93.4%

Motion Handling & Upscaling:

The LG SM9000 obviously can’t come close to reproducing the razor sharp motion blur control of an LG OLED TV, which offers 10 times the pixel response speed of any LCD TV, but it still delivers excellent response time for shifting colors in pixels by LCD TV standards. As a result, this TV handles fast-paced content crisply and with very little motion blur. The SM9000’s native 120Hz display panel also smoothly handles all sources of content at lower frame rates, and its capacity for judder-free playback of 24p movie content is great whether the movie came from a disc, streaming app or cable/broadcast source. We also love the SM9000’s black frame insertion feature, which works exceptionally well in this TV at further smoothing out motion interpolation for content of all kinds. On the other hand, where the SM9000 falls flat by LCD TV standards is on how well its flicker-free technology works. It fails at times, with visible flicker in certain types of content, partly because of the specific flicker free technique that LG uses.

A Review of The LG SM9000 LCD 2019 4K HDR NanoCell TV (55SM9000) (65SM9000) (75SM9000) (86SM9000)

Moving onto content upscaling, it’s excellent in the LG SM9000 LCD editions. Almost all 4K TV today’s upscale content from lower-resolution sources wonderfully, and this TV will do it just fine for anything that isn’t badly mastered to begin with.

Input Performance for Gaming and PC:

The LG SM9000 is a fantastic 4K HDR TV for console and PC gaming. In terms of its responsiveness and exceptionally low input lag, this 4K HDR TV delivers quality that’s on par with what LG’s OLED TVs can manage and also comparable to the performance of Samsung’s QLED 4K HDR TVs. In more specific terms, the SM9000 is very good at maintaining low input lag when used for gaming at multiple frame rate, resolution and color profile combinations if set to its Game Mode. It’s also a superb TV for connecting to a PC as a monitor or PC gaming display.

Unfortunately, LG gave the SM9000 no variable refresh rate technology such as the AMD FreeSync found in Samsung’s high-end 4K TVs, but this isn’t a major loss for most gamers. On the other hand, the SM9000 does come with HDMI 2.1, meaning that it can handle 4K graphics at above 60Hz, if your gaming rig is capable of sustaining the same thing.

Also Read:
Our detailed review of Samsung’s best 2019 mid-range TV, the RU8000

A Review of The LG SM9000 LCD 2019 4K HDR NanoCell TV (55SM9000) (65SM9000) (75SM9000) (86SM9000)

Here are some of the key specific specs for the gaming performance in different console setups:

    • 4k @ 60Hz: 13.9 ms
    • 1080p @ 60Hz: 15.1 ms
    • 1080p @ 120Hz: 14.5 ms
    • 1080p @ 60Hz outside Game Mode: 86 ms
    • 4k @ 60Hz + HDR: 13.5 ms
    • 1440p @ 60Hz: 13.4 ms
    • 4k @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode : 87.2 ms
    • 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4: 12.5 ms
    • 4K @ 120Hz: 15.2 ms
    • 1440p @ 120Hz: 17.1 ms
    • 1080p with FreeSync: N/A
    • 4K with interpolation activated: 88.7 ms

Again, the LG SM9000 4K HDR TV is also a superb 4K TV for use as a PC monitor for gaming or other needs. These specs show its key connectivity metrics for PC.

  • 1080p @ 120Hz: No
  • 1080p @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4: Yes
  • 4k @ 60Hz + 4:4:4: Yes
  • 1440p @ 60Hz: Yes
  • 4k @ 120Hz : Yes
  • 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4: Yes
  • 1440p @ 120Hz: Yes

Connectivity

The connectivity specs of the LG SM9000 are fantastically good. We say this not only because LG decided to give all of its 2019 4K HDR TVs the usual run of necessary and up-to-date connectivity specs but also because the brand also gave them all HDMI 2.1 technology, which allows for gaming and 4K content at more than 60Hz (though we know of no consumer media that currently stream 4K video at faster than 60Hz for now).

A Review of The LG SM9000 LCD 2019 4K HDR NanoCell TV (55SM9000) (65SM9000) (75SM9000) (86SM9000)

  • HDMI : 4 (HDCP 2.2 & full HDMI 2.1 capacity)
  • HDMI 2.1 : Yes
  • USB : 3 (USB 2.0 x 3)
  • Digital Optical Audio Out : 1
  • Analog Audio Out 3.5 mm : 1
  • Tuner (Cable/Ant) : 1
  • Ethernet : 1
  • HDR10 support: Yes
  • HDR10+ support: No
  • Dolby Vision HDR support: Yes
  • Hybrid Log Gamma HDR support: Yes
  • Dolby Vision HDR: Yes

The TV models also offer audio connectivity in the following types.

  • 1 Passthrough ARC 5.1 Dolby Digital
  • 1 Passthrough Optical 5.1 Dolby Digital
  • 1 Passthrough ARC support
  • 1 Passthrough DTS via ARC support

Pricing

LG released the SM9000 4K HDR LCD TV in four editions. These consist of a 55 inch model, a 65 inch edition, a 75 inch giant and a monstrous 86 inch version of the TV. All offer the same specs as those we described in our review above. Their performance should also be pretty much equal regardless of size.
These four editions all sell for the following prices, found in the link below at the time of this writing. Bear in mind that these are subject to sometimes frequent downward change and it’s a good idea to click the following Amazon links for real-time pricing and all available discounts on this model.

A Review of The LG SM9000 LCD 2019 4K HDR NanoCell TV (55SM9000) (65SM9000) (75SM9000) (86SM9000)

Check out LG’s Excellent Nano Cell 4K HDR LCD TV, the 2019 SM9000 for sale at Amazon

4.7 – 4 Reviews
Story by 4k.com
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