A Review of the LG Electronics 49UB8500 49-Inch 4K Ultra HD 120Hz 3D Smart LED TV
LG’s 4K TVs are some of the best and at times some of the priciest on the market for ultra HD home entertainment. This is where the LG 49UB8500 comes in as an excellent value alternative to its more expensive cousins such as the OLED 4K line of LG TVs.
When it comes to this TV, you get all of the essential features that will make your ownership experience fully functional with the latest in home entertainment and you get these features without paying out several thousand dollars for added trimmings. The LG 49UB8500 comes with core 4K entertainment technologies like HEVC video decoding, a 120Hz refresh rate, IPS panels and a WebOs smart TV interface.
However, it also includes bonuses like a powerful built-in sound system, a futuristic, minimalist design and an excellent passive 3D performance package.
The great features that come with the LG 49UB8500 are numerous and start off with its exceptionally reasonable price (particularly for an LG TV). At $1,199 USD, this model is competitive against other value oriented TVs from Samsung, Sony and the famously low-priced Vizio P-Series 4K TVs. However, it offers pure LG quality at this affordable price tag.
In terms of features, the UB8500 comes with the latest, updated version of the WebOS smart TV platform that LG uses on its newest TVs and includes the vital HEVC support that makes it crucially capable of accessing almost any streaming video platform like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Wauki.tv and others that are emerging in 2015.
Furthermore, the TV gives you some truly excellent overall sound quality: The Clear Voice II and Virtual Surround Plus features on the LG 49UB8500 add some very interesting choices and can be combined in assorted ways that maximize the audio experience of viewing your favorite shows and movies. For example, one particularly crisp setting might be the Cinema sound setting with Clear Voice II enabled and set to a level of 3, but this is just one possible option.
Overall, thanks to these audio features, one of the most notable “Good” features of the B8500 is its sound system, which is all the more impressive and practical for being built into such a minimalist TV design of extreme thinness and small depth. In this, LG beats many competitors and particularly beats the sometimes clunky (though powerful) sound systems that are found on Sony’s Bravia 4K TVs.
As an entry piece for easing your way into 4K TV entertainment through a brand with excellent products, the LG 49UB8500 is one of the best choices from LG on the market. It sheds a lot of bulk and massive screen size while still focusing on providing intensely clear picture quality and it does this in a way that allows its very, very competitive retail price.
Finally, we should also mention the smart TV platform of the UB8500. It really has been turned into a minor masterpiece of simplicity and ease-of-use. LG made “simple” the running idea through the new WebOS design and it shows in the interface: instead of a complicated spray of different app buttons, you're faced with an elegantly minimalist colored strip that runs along the bottom of the screen and is populated by different favorite apps and other often-used essentials
There aren’t many bad features about the LG 49UB8500 but among those that can be found, we do note a few deficiencies in the overall quality of the picture quality. For starters, there is some occasional blooming and light shading that happens along the corners of the screen whenever either very dark or very bright images get displayed but this isn’t entirely unexpected for a TV with an edge-lit LED backlighting system.
This edge-lit backlighting is also a minor flaw in the overall quality of this TV. While the technology is to be expected from an LG model at this low price range, it’s also something that needs to go as soon as possible in future low-cost 4K TV models. If Vizio’s P-Series 4K TVs could manage to offer the visual quality of far superior full-array LED backlighting at even lower prices than that of the UB8500, then LG has no excuses for continuing with this limited LED array.
Finally, there is the matter of the TruMotion engine inside the LG 49UB8500. This feature, designed to reduce blur by clarifying background haziness, only works well in situations where you want blur gone (like during sportscasts) but in many other settings, such as during movies and shows, the opposite is achieved, the result looks bizarre and off-putting. Unfortunately, turning off TruMotion means disabling it for each new content selection manually since the feature is set as a default for content.
The LG 49UB8500 offers its users an excellent entry model 4K TV with a full load of essential features from a top-shelf brand at a very affordable price. This is what it’s designed for and this is what it excels at delivering. If you’re looking for a more sophisticated, top-of-the-line 4K TV, then the UB8500 isn’t your best bet.
• Screen size: 49 diagonal inches
• Smart TV: Yes
• HEVC (H.265) Included: Yes
• HD to UHD upscaling: Yes
• HDCP 2.2 Compliance: Yes
• Refresh Rate: 120Hz native refresh rate
• Screen Lighting: Edge-lit LED backlighting with Local dimming
• Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels UHD
• Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes both built-in WiFi and Ethernet port
• Remotes: LG Magic Wand remote designed for fast point and click browsing of content
• Connectivity: 4 HDMI 2.0 ports, 1 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0 ports
• Sound: 10W+10W 2ch full range speakers with ClearAudio + digital sound processing
• Dynamic Contrast Ratio: over 1 million
• Other Display Features: Triluminos Display with frame dimming
• TV weight with stand: 40.1 lbs
• Dimensions: 43 x 25.4 x 2.1 inches; With stand: 45.6 x 27.1 x 9.5 inches
• Processor: Dual Core processing
Despite its compact design and lower feature load, the UB8500 offers a number of excellent highlights that are worth noting.
First up to bat is the IPS panel design of the TV. This is one of the essential ingredients to LGs particularly outstanding picture quality in its 4K TVs and the high quality of the panel is what determines much of the high quality of the overall picture. This IPS (In-Plane Switching panel gives this TV’s screen a much broader, more flexible visual scope that makes viewing even from off angles perfectly doable. In other words, the image itself is much more consistent at the broadest possible angle than would be the case with a TV without IPS.
Next, we move on to the UB8500’s HEVC decoder. By now this is becoming more of a standard feature in any new 4K TVs that go on sale in 2015 but it’s still worth mentioning because of its crucial importance. HEVC is essential to any complete 4K home entertainment experience and with this as an established feature in the TV, you’re guaranteed access to a robust plethora of options for streaming content that include the latest from Netflix, Amazon Prime and other online sources of 4K movies, shows and user generated videos.
We’ve already covered the UB8500’s Smart TV overhaul through the new, streamlined version of the LG webOS but we should also mention the Magic Remote that comes with this TV. This little device makes using that refined webOS interface even easier and smoother than ever before through its selection of buttons and other controls that are designed to make switching between apps and opening up content as easy as waving your hand. Furthermore, the Magic Remote is accompanied by LG’s Voice Mate speech recognition system, which makes controlling the TV even easier.
Best of all, the Magic Remote offers an extremely high degree of compatibility with other devices and can be used with compatible Blu-ray players, home theater devices and set-top boxes.
Part of the reason particularly great display excellence of LG’s 4K screens is the host of technologies that the company adds to its basic ultra HD TVs. We’ve already covered the IPS panel design that makes the TV create a much broader clear viewing angle but we should also mention other features like the UB8500’s Tru-4K engine technology. This is a powerful resolution enhancing development that LG particularly excels at.
What Tru-4K delivers is an internal resolution enhancement engine that not only makes native 4K perform at the top of its game but also takes 1080p HD and even 720p HD content and then upscales them so sharply in quality that they look almost indistinguishable from fully native 4K graphics. For watching all of your old HD Blu-ray discs, DVDs and the majority of HD TV programming that still prevails on broadcast channels, Tru-4K is an essential feature to have.
The UB8500 also offers a native refresh rate of 120Hz and an Ultra Clarity Index (UCI) rating of 1200. Though this Index is something that LG itself created, the company does claim that the 1200 rating offers a far superior picture clarity to what is found in normal HD.
Finally, there is also a very unique feature that a lot of video gamers might love. This is called Dual Play and what it allows is for two people to watch the same screen at the same time while each sees a different visual display. This means being able to play split screen games without having to actually split the screen or use a second TV. Dual Play does however require specialized glasses that are sold separately.
The connectivity specs of the LG 49UB8500 include the usual essentials of any modern 4K TV. They include WiFi connectivity, an Ethernet port, 4 HDMI 2.0 ports (for full 4K media smoothness at 60 frames per second and USB ports in both the 2.0 and more advanced 3.0 configuration.
There is also the TV’s Smart Share feature, which gives you the ability to share photos, videos and other media from an assortment of additional compatible devices like cameras, smartphones, tablets and laptops to your TV screen through WiFi, WiDi or through one of the TV’s HDMI or USB connections.
And of course, through the internet connectivity of the UB8500, you can enjoy the web-friendly features of the smart TV interface. These include access to the LG App Store, LivePlus, web browsing, Skype and assorted online gaming options.
As we’ve already mentioned, the LG 49UB8500 is currently retailing for $1,199 from online sources like Amazon.com. This is a major discount from its list price of $1,699 and an extremely competitive price for a starter 4K TV from one of the most sophisticated manufacturers in the industry.
The 49UB8500 is definitely not the best possible 4K TV on the market right now. While it is very nicely priced, there are other 4K UHD sets from Samsung and Vizio in particular which offer features that are as good or even better in some ways for even less money at this size of screen.
Furthermore, specs like the edge-lit LED backlighting not only create minor problems like the blooming/shading issue we’ve already covered above, they also represent an older generation of screen lighting technology that’s already being replaced.
• A very competitive price for an LG 4K TV
• Top-shelf LG 4K technology and picture clarity
• Great connectivity
• Plenty of HDMI 2.0 ports
• Refined, streamlined Smart TV interface
• HEVC compatibility
• There are cheaper options from Samsung and others
• Edge-lit LED backlighting causes blooming/shading problems
• Tru-Motion engine causes problems in some content