LG SJ8500 4K Super UHD HDR LCD TV Review (55SJ8500, 65SJ8500)
Stephan Jukic – January 4, 2018
LG’s SJ8500 “Super UHD” 4K HDR TV is one of the company’s 2017 – early 2018 LCD 4K HDR TVs, as opposed to LG’s flagship OLED TV lineup. It’s also the second priciest and “best” of the Super UHD LCD models with some very decent performance specs for a non-OLED LG 4K TV. What really gives the SJ8500 a nice touch is the inclusion of Dolby Vision HDR support, which all of Samsung and Sony’s comparable mid-range LCD TVs completely lack. On the other hand, the SJ8500’s full HDR effect is offset by the fact that this model comes with an IPS display panel which gives it only mediocre contrast ratios, fairly weak black levels and a peak brightness that never really shines, literally.
- Great design
- Excellent HDR and general color rendering
- wide viewing angles
- fantastic performance as console gaming 4K TV
- Great native smart TV platform
- Poor contrast & black levels
- Not very bright with normal content or even HDR video
- Crappy local dimming
- Price too high for what SJ8500 offers
The Bottom Line
All that said, the SJ8500 is not at all a bad television and for some types of users, such as gamers in particular, it could make an excellent choice due to its wide viewing angles, fantastic gaming performance and generally very good picture quality in certain respects. We certainly love its rather beautiful design as well.
There are numerous positives about the SJ8500 and they do generally outweigh the negatives about this model in most ways. In other words, the SJ8500 has more good things going for it than bad characteristics. It’s just that the things it does worst at are some very important factors for high picture quality performance. That said, this model is really good at what it does well and most importantly, it’s by far the best LG LCD 4K HDR TV we’ve seen to date even if we prefer the LCD displays of Sony and Samsung overall.
Here are the SJ8500’s best technologies and features:
LG was one of the TV makers to most fully embrace the HDR content and display revolution right from the get-go in the widest range of its 4K TVs, and we can see this in the SJ8500 due to its integrated support for both HDR10 and Dolby Vision high dynamic range (as well as the still nascent HLG broadcast HDR standard). While only Sony’s premium 4K TVs from the X930E upwards support Dolby Vision and none of Samsung’s 4K TVs in any price range support it, all of LG’s models, including this one do.
This is a great thing to have as more content comes out with multi-format HDR mastering built into it. While the SJ8500 isn’t particularly good at rendering the extreme ranges of brightness and shadow that HDR contrast calls for (more on this further below), it does do a fantastic job of showing off other key manifestations of all its supported HDR formats through its color rendering
The above of course brings us to the color capabilities of the SJ8500. They are fantastic and in how well it displays both wide color gamut with high DCI-P3 color palette coverage and 10-bit RGB color tone variation, the SJ8500 is a fantastic television. Colors on this model are vibrant, realistic, smoothly graded and their qualities shine especially well when you use the SJ8500 to view either Dolby Vision or HDR10 movie, streaming and Blu-ray disc sources. In these aspects of its picture quality, the SJ8500 makes up enormously for its weak native contrast ratio and black uniformity.
The motion handling performance of the SJ8500 is very good in most ways. In terms of both how well it handles motion blur and motion interpolation, the native 120Hz display panel of the SJ8500 does a decent job of making sure that almost any type of entertainment media you view on this LG LCD TV flows smoothly and sharply. The SJ8500 is nowhere near as good as LG’s OLED TVs in handling motion blur (no LCD 4K TV is because not even the best of them can match the instant pixel color changes OLED manages to get pixel response times of near zero) but by LCD TV standards, its response time of just 6 milliseconds is stunningly low. In a general sense, the TV quite simply plays back movies, sportscasts and so forth nicely as well, with full support for low frame-rate content like 24p Blu-ray or streamed movies.
Gaming chops for consoles and PC use
Slightly related to the SJ8500’s generally great motion handling is its connectivity for use as a console gaming TV and as a PC monitor. Here we see the SJ8500 shine amazingly. In fact, this is one of the best LCD TVs we’ve ever reviewed so far in terms of just how low its input lag is for games from any console at a multitude of different color, resolution, HDR and frame rate formats. Input lag for all major resolution, color and frame rate combinations is almost uniformly extremely low and this means that console gamers who own platforms like the Xbox One X or Xbox One S, especially those doing their gaming online and competitively could really love the SJ8500.
Smart TV platform
WebOS 3.5 is one of the best native 4K TV smart platforms out there today in terms of usability and content access. We love its intuitive design and the selection of apps that come with it. Of course, now that 4K streaming media devices have become really diverse, native smart TV platforms aren’t even that important anymore since you can overlay them with the streamer app platform of your choice but among those smart OS systems built into the TVs of the major brands, our favorite is definitely this one.
Finally, we simply like the design of the SJ8500. It’s not as sturdy as we’d like it to be but this 4K HDR LCD TV definitely looks really good. LG has a knack for aesthetically pleasing builds in their premium 4K TVs (the budget models are a different and much less pretty story) and the 8500 delivers with a pearly white display back and silver stand that supports the TV without adding too much weight to it or footprint beneath it. Furthermore, the SJ8500’s edges are neatly and minimally bezeled, making the most of of its display real estate.
On the other side of the spectrum, there are all of the things we don’t like about LG’s SJ8500 and unfortunately there is a larger than average number of them in this supposedly premium LCD 4K TV. The main problem with LG seems to be that the company simply can’t put together a solid 4K LCD HDR TV without it coming with just a bit too many flaws. For this reason, while we pretty much adore the quality of the brand’s fantastic OLED televisions in nearly every way, we’ve always found their LCD models to be below the average on overall quality when compared to other LCD models. The SJ8500 is the best LG LCD 4K HDR TV we’ve reviewed so far but it’s still weak compared to any comparably priced and equally sized Sony, Vizio, Samsung or even TCL model. More on this further down though.
Contrast ratio and black level
The contrast ratio of the SJ8500 is better than any we’ve yet seen in one of LG’s IPS LCD models but by the normal standards of 4K HDR LCD TVs today, it’s still pretty abysmal. This is of course just par for the course for IPS (most Samsung, Sony, Vizio etc LCD televisions come with much more contrast-capable VA panel screens) but it still doesn’t excuse the simple fact that black levels and contrast in this television look washed out much of the time. The result is a lower overall picture quality and a lower perception of what is otherwise robust color vibrancy. The low contrast and black level also make the SJ8500 pretty abysmal as an HDR TV at least as far as the contrast part of high dynamic range is concerned.
Yes, this model comes with local dimming technology, and this helps contrast improve slightly, but since the 8500’s local dimming feature is very imprecise and generally pretty crappy, there’s still plenty of light bleed into any dark areas surrounding brighter scenes. Not good.
Directly related to the above criticism of the SJ8500’s black level and contrast is our opinion of its black uniformity. As you can guess, it’s pretty bad, with lots of light bleeding through the pixels on the screen and plenty of clouding as a result. If the SJ8500 gets used for mostly dark content scenes, you might not like what you see, especially if you’ve previously seen just how much better pretty much any Samsung or Sony HDR TV can reproduce the same visuals.
Display brightness directly relates to black level and is a crucial part of a TV’s overall contrast ratio. Unfortunately, in the SJ8500, this aspect of picture performance is also underwhelming. Some 4K HDR TVs with weak black levels can be saved by an exceptionally high level of display luminosity or alternatively TVs with moderate luminosity can be saved by strong black levels. The SJ8500 basically doesn’t offer either of these.
As a result of the above defects, the general HDR performance of this 4K TV suffers a fair bit in everything except how well it delivers rich WCG and 10-bit color for high dynamic range content. However, even on this front, because color looks more vibrant when paired with rich contrast and deep blacks, we get a bit of rundown in how good the color vibrancy seems to be to the naked eye. This is a shame for the SJ8500 because its technical support for different HDR formats is excellent.
Value vs. Price & Bottom Line
Due to the above mentioned negatives about the LG SJ8500, we consider it’s value for price to be a bit on the low side. For an LCD LG TV, this model is probably the best we’ve ever reviewed from the brand but there are better deals out there with considerably better overall value for your dollars spent on several models such as Sony’s X900E, Vizio’s 2017 P-Series television or Samsung’s mid-range MU8000 and MU9000 4K HDR TVs. The TCL P-Series is also a superb choice for a far cheaper price. All of these TVs outdo the SJ8500 on brightness, black levels, contrast and local dimming as well, which they all offer to a higher level of quality. One thing the SJ8500 does offer is Dolby Vision support and this is great but without the rich black levels, fine contrast and high brightness to support this spec, it only benefits the TV on color and in any case both the Vizio P-Series and TCL P-series offer the same HDR standard more robustly at lower prices.
That said, the SJ8500 is a fantastic TV for console gamers or for use as a really big PC display. In this we recommend it highly for its IPS panel, superbly low input lag and other benefits described above in our “Good” section.
Key LG SJ8500 Super UHD TV Specs
- Screen sizes: 55 in 55SJ8500 65 in 65SJ8500 (TV being reviewed is 55 inches)
- Smart TV: webOS 3.5 Smart TV platform with
- HEVC (H.265) Included: Yes
- VP9 Included. Yes
- HD to UHD upscaling: Yes
- HDCP 2.2 Compliance: Yes
- HDR Support: Yes, HDR10, Dolby Vision Hybrid Log Gamma
- Refresh Rate: 120Hz native refresh rate
- Screen Lighting: edge-lit LED backlighting (bottom) with local dimming
- Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels UHD
- Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes both built-in WiFi and Ethernet port
- Remotes: LG Smart Remote
- Connectivity: 4 HDMI (all of them 2.0a and HDCP 2.2) ports, 3 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Digital Audio Out, all located in eternal One Connect box
- Sound: 40W (WF: 20W) with ULTRA surround
- Contrast Ratio: 1,431 : 1 (native, real contrast with local dimming activated), 1,382 without local dimming
- Average black level: HDR mode: 0.027 nits, SDR mode: 0.083 nits
- 3D Technology: N/A
- TV dimensions (55 inch model): 48.4” x 2.3” x 27.9” inches w/o stand, 48.4” x 9.7” x 30.1” w stand
- TV weight (55 inch model): 43 lbs with Stand
- Processor: Quad-Core Processor
Display Performance Metrics
The following are the several categories of key display metrics for picture performance in the LG SJ8500. They may vary slightly from unit to unit so they should not be taken as absolutes. However, they should maintain a generally high level of similarity in all units that makes them good enough to be reliable indicators of quality.
The following metrics of display performance for contrast, black level, color performance, brightness and motion handling (all of which are the most important aspects of display performance) essentially bear out what we said above: that this TV handles color superbly while suffering rather badly on contrast ratio and black level, which is normal for an IPS 4K HDR TV but also, normal or not, something that we thing really weakens the quality of picture performance in some crucial ways. The SJ8500 is a good IPS 4K LCD TV, possibly the best we’ve ever reviewed with this kind of display, but it’s a weaker choice almost across the board than many similarly priced rival models from almost every other major brand.
Black Level, Local Dimming and Contrast:
The SJ8500’s contrast is weak by 4K TV standards and abysmal by HDR TV standards. With a contrast ratio of just under 1400:1 and just over 1400:1 even with local dimming activated, this TV delivers pretty low levels of black that look washed out. Its average black levels are as follows: 0.027 nits in HDR mode and for SDR mode: 0.083 nits. That’s fatal for the contrast aspects of any sort of HDR performance. Local dimming helps its contrast a bit as you can see but the result is still weak and the quality of the local dimming is poor, with little precision. Thus, bright objects against a dark background do present a lot of light bleed along their edges, this is simply distracting if you’re used to the much deeper, more precise black levels of VA panel 4K HDR LCD TVs with local dimming.
Black uniformity could also definitely use some work. The middle section of the TV’s display shows some notable clouding and again, IPS screwing up this important spec, creating a faded, spotty level of black uniformity.
The SJ8500 simply never gets exceptionally bright and this is rather damning. Even in HDR mode, while being used to view high dynamic range video (a time when most HDR TVs increase the level of their backlight luminosity right across the board) the SJ8500 delivers only modestly good performance at times. In SDR mode it performs really poorly.
Also, to clarify, peak brightness is the maximum possible spot HDR or SDR luminosity of the display or a section of it measured in nits (or cd/m2, which is the same thing) under different conditions. Sustained brightness is the highest possible sustained HDR or SDR brightness that the TV screen can manage over different conditions or areas of illuminated display.
- Overall SDR peak brightness for normal content: 240 nits
- Peak 2% display area display SDR brightness: 80 nits
- Peak 10% display area SDR brightness: 155 nits
- Peak 100% display area SDR brightness: 276 nits
- Sustained 10% SDR brightness: 161 nits
- Sustained 100% SDR brightness: 264 nits
- Overall HDR peak brightness for normal content: 450 nits
- Peak 2% display area display HDR brightness: 630 nits
- Peak 10% display area HDR brightness: 641 nits
- Peak 100% display area HDR brightness: 422 nits
- Sustained 10% HDR brightness: 629 nits
- Sustained 100% HDR brightness: 423 nits
The SJ8500’s color delivery is very good. This model offers up a rich, vibrant and highly realistic color palette, and for HDR video sources it’s a solid performer due to the above-mentioned high DCI-P3 coverage and due to its full, smooth application of 10-bit color with virtually no notable banding. 10-bit color means transitions of color tones without lines that mark the shift from one value or tone to another. Additionally, the SJ8500
Specifically, the TV manages to render a solid 94% of the DCI-P3 wide color gamut spectrum and even at very high levels of peak brightness still renders very vibrant, rich color volume. As for its color, onscreen shadow quality and how clearly it defines details in shady scenes, the SJ8500is a good performer: Color delta E (inaccuracy of colors) sits at a very good 1.47 after calibration, gamma sits at no more than a slightly high 2.18 after calibration and white gamma for brightness in shadowy areas is really good at 0.29.
Motion Handling & Upscaling:
The motion handling performance of the SJ8500 is pretty good, with low motion blur on a screen that works at a very good response time of 8.5 seconds, which isn’t bad at all by LCD TV standards (LG’s own OLED TV’s a really good on their motion handling performance).
Furthermore, the SJ8500 natively interpolates lower frame-rate content sources decently well despite its native 120Hz display panel. We’d also like to note that this model does not offer full support for judder-free viewing of content. This TV’s judder reduction only applies to streamed video sources.
The SJ8500 is however an incredibly powerful performer on its handling of gaming from consoles. In a variety of resolutions, color sampling formats, with or without HDR and at different frame rates, the SJ8500 works at extremely low levels of input lag that any Xbox One X, PS4 Pro or other type of competitive console gamer will appreciate. The following are the specific specs for its gaming chops in different console setups:
- 4k @ 60Hz: 15 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz: 15 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz + HDR: 15.2 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz + HDR: 14.8 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode : 41 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4: 15.2 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4 + HDR: 14.8 ms
- 4K with interpolation activated: 81.3 ms (leave the interpolation off)
As you can see below, the SJ8500 delivers the most advanced and newest in key 4K TV connectivity specs, with multiple HDMI, USB ports and other crucial connectivity slots. The television however doesn’t have a fancy and simplified cable management system like we’ve seen in Sony or Samsung 4K HDR TVs for 2017. The following are its ports and their specifications:
- HDMI : 4 (All come with HDCP 2.2 and full HDMI 2.0a capacity)
- USB : 3 (USB 3.0)
- Digital Optical Audio Out : 1
- Analog Audio Out RCA : 0
- Tuner (Cable/Ant) : 1
- Ethernet : 1
The LG SJ8500 TV models also offer audio connectivity in the following types.
- 1 Passthrough ARC Dolby Digital
- 1 Passthrough ARC DTS
- 1 Passthrough Optical Dolby Digital
- 1 Passthrough Optical DTS
The SJ8500’s two size ranges are selling for the following prices found in the links 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.