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A Review of the LG NanoCell SM8600 4K HDR LCD TV (49SM8600, 55SM8600, 65SM8600, 75SM8600)

by on December 25, 2019
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Stephan Jukic – December 25, 2019

Overview

LG’s SM8600 4K HDR LCD TV is one of the brand’s 2019 NanoCell editions and like all of this brand’s LCD TVs (as opposed to their best-selling and extremely famous OLED 4K HDR TVs), it comes with IPS display technology. This means wide viewing angles but it also comes with a negative tradeoff in terms of weak dark levels and contrast. That said, the SM8600 is a very decent 4K HDR TV by that standards of televisions with IPS display and it also offers especially good visual performance on several key measurements of quality.

Positives

• Very strong gaming performance
• Really good motion handling
• Great color delivery
• Excellent viewing angles
• Great smart TV platform

Negatives

• Lackluster Black levels and contrast (because of IPS display)
• Weak HDR brightness
• Weak local dimming technology
• Native Audio is really bad

Bottom Line

LG’s SM8600 is a good 4K UHD TV choice if you’re specifically looking for an HDR TV that offers wide viewing angles while also not being anywhere near as expensive as an OLED TV (which also offer wide viewing angles). By IPS 4K TV standards, it’s not a bad edition, but these are its two main selling points. If you just want a great 4K LCD TV at a good price and don’t care about wide viewing angles, there are better options available from several brands.

A Review of the LG NanoCell SM8600 4K HDR LCD TV (49SM8600, 55SM8600, 65SM8600, 75SM8600)

Check out LG’s ultra affordable SM8600 NanoCell 2019 4K HDR LCD TV on 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 SM8600

There are several major aspects of 4K TV performance that the LG SM8600 either excels at or does quite well. These go a long way towards compensating for its few but notable flaws and make this edition into a great TV by the standards of editions with IPS display.

Gaming connectivity & performance

The LG SM8600 is a surprisingly awesome 4K TV for gamers. While its HDR quality isn’t stellar and the black level/contrast issues we discussed affect gaming just as much as content, what this LG model really delivers superbly is strong support with very low input lag almost across the board for all color, resolution, HDR and frame rate settings. It also works wonderfully as a PC monitor, with great support for different frame rates, resolutions and color settings while hooked up to a PC too. LG’s SM9000 surprised us with the same specs and the cheaper SM8600 delivers them nearly as well.

A Review of the LG NanoCell SM8600 4K HDR LCD TV (49SM8600, 55SM8600, 65SM8600, 75SM8600)

Those awesome viewing angles

The one big thing working in favor of IPS display technology is the viewing angles it provides. This is why 4K TV makers still put out IPS TV editions, and for users who need to fit their home theater system into a wide space with narrow viewing distance, this is great. As far as IPS 4K TVs go, the SM8600 is a very good example, with decent enough contrast and great color. These combined with its wide viewing angles make it an ideal choice if viewing angles are what you need without spending money on an OLED TV or one of Sony and Samsung’s ultra-premium, insanely expensive flagship TVs with special viewing angle technology in their VA panels.

A Review of the LG NanoCell SM8600 4K HDR LCD TV (49SM8600, 55SM8600, 65SM8600, 75SM8600)

Motion handling

The motion handling of the LG SM8600 is very almost excellent. This TV definitely delivers the results on high pixel response time for low motion blur and its motion interpolation works great at handling content with a lower frame rate than that of the SM8600’s native 120Hz display. Furthermore, it offers great judder control for content from most sources and comes with a number of extra technologies for smooth, blur and artifact-free picture performance during gaming or any kind of content viewing.

Vibrant color performance

In terms of color delivery for both HDR and SDR (ordinary) content, the SM8600 NanoCell 4K TV is a fine performer. Color accuracy is excellent in this TV after a bit of calibration and the combination of wide color gamut and 10-bit color that it offers combine to deliver excellent, vibrant color delivery during playback of HDR video sources, especially with content mastered in Dolby Vision HDR, which the SM8600 also supports.

A Review of the LG NanoCell SM8600 4K HDR LCD TV (49SM8600, 55SM8600, 65SM8600, 75SM8600)

LG’s superb smart TV platform

To finish off our section of major things we liked about the LG SM8600, we come down to its smart TV platform. This 2019 4K HDR TV comes with WebOS 4.5 and it’s better than it’s ever been before. The TV’s selection of apps is extremely extensive, picture settings are easy to use and the overall WebOS interface is extremely user-friendly while also being exceptionally smooth. The SM8600’s smart remote comes with voice control and supports Google Assistant along with other voice control technologies.

A Review of the LG NanoCell SM8600 4K HDR LCD TV (49SM8600, 55SM8600, 65SM8600, 75SM8600)

Check out LG’s ultra affordable SM8600 NanoCell 2019 4K HDR LCD TV on sale at Amazon

4.7 – 4 Reviews
Also Read:
Our comprehensive review of the best IPS TV we’ve ever reviewed, LG’s powerful new SM9000 4K HDR edition

What We Didn’t Like

The funny thing about the SM8600 is that, IPS panel aside, it’s actually a pretty good 4K TV overall. Thus, the things we dislike about it are fairly mild. In basic terms, if an IPS TV is something you specifically feel you need, this television is one of the best choices available on the market right now. That said, here are some of its major negatives:

Black/contrast levels and local dimming

The greatest weaknesses of the LG SM8600 consist of a combination of weak black levels, low contrast and a local dimming technology that’s too crappy to really improve either of the first two. Both weak black levels and poor contrast are very typical of IPS 4K TVs, and quite frankly the SM8600 delivers much better on both than we’d normally expect from a TV with this display technology but the bottom line is that it’s still not very good at these specs. This is of course a tradeoff that normally comes with the wide viewing angles of IPS TVs but to make things worse, the local dimming that this TV has, which should normally improve these specs considerably, fails dismally at doing so. It’s just not good enough. Unless you really need wide viewing angles on a budget, we’d suggest going for a TV with VA display. Samsung’s mid-range models and TCL or Vizio’s editions are great alternatives.

A Review of the LG NanoCell SM8600 4K HDR LCD TV (49SM8600, 55SM8600, 65SM8600, 75SM8600)

Overall display brightness

The overall display brightness of the LG SM8600 is also a major defect of this edition. When set to output SDR brightness levels for normal TV and movie or gaming content, the SM8600 is only barely decent at luminosity and even when switched over to HDR brightness for the content that needs the feature, this LG NanoCell TV performs only modestly well. We’ve seen much brighter peak and sustained luminosity from cheaper 4K UHD TVs and it really helps with picture quality, especially if a 4K TV’s black levels and contrast are bad, which of course they are with the SM8600.

A Review of the LG NanoCell SM8600 4K HDR LCD TV (49SM8600, 55SM8600, 65SM8600, 75SM8600)

Weak native audio

The native audio technology of most 4K UHD TVs isn’t usually exceptional, but in the SM8600 it’s downright crappy. This TV’s speakers are fine for casual news watching and running sitcoms during a lazy evening but if you want to do anything that requires immersive sound and kick on the SM8600, we really, really recommend a pair of external speakers or a decent soundbar.

Comparison to other TVs

Compared to other IPS 4K UHD HDR TVs, the LG SM8600 performs well. It’s in fact one of the better IPS display choices available among 2018 and 2019 4K UHD TVs. However, if wide viewing angles aren’t that important to you, there are several 4K HDR LCD TV alternatives we’d recommend more than this edition, which all come with VA display technology and much better black levels, contrast and superior peak brightness.

Also Read:
Our in-depth review of Sony’s X950G 4K UHD HDR LCD TV
Our in-depth review of Samsung’s Q7F QLED 4K HDR TV

Value for Price & Bottom Line

We recommend the LG SM8600 NanoCell 4K TV if you want a better than average IPS TV and need its wide viewing angles without having to splurge on an OLED TV, but otherwise, if these things aren’t important, many 4K TV alternatives offer better performance at similar prices.

A Review of the LG NanoCell SM8600 4K HDR LCD TV (49SM8600, 55SM8600, 65SM8600, 75SM8600)

Check out LG’s ultra affordable SM8600 NanoCell 2019 4K HDR LCD TV on 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 SM8600 Specs

• Screen sizes: 49 inch 49SM8600, 55 inch SM8600, 65 inch SM8600, 75 inch SM8600 (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, Dolby Vision, Hybrid Log Gamma
• Refresh Rate: 120Hz native refresh rate (Except 49 inch edition)
• Screen Lighting: LCD Display with edge-lit backlighting, no local dimming
• Resolution: 3840 × 2160 pixels 4K UHD
• Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes both built-in WiFi and Ethernet port
• Remotes: LG smart OneRemote with voice control
• Connectivity: 4 HDMI ports (all of them 2.0a and with HDCP 2.2, 3 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Digital Audio Out
• Contrast Ratio: 1,176:1 (native, real maximum contrast)
• Absolute Maximum Peak Brightness: 429 nits (cd/m2)
• 3D Technology: N/A

Display Performance Metrics

In the following sections and subsections, we cover all of the most important metrics of real 4K HDR TV performance in the LG SM8600 NanoCell TV. These are the specs that matter most for judging how well this TV delivers on quality home theater handling. They cover the essentials of brightness, color, motion handling, and other specs for using this particular UHD TV for movies, TV shows, broadcast content, gaming and even as a PC monitor if you prefer. We cut out all the fluff and marketing jargon that doesn’t really explain genuine quality anyhow.

The following are based on metrics from one or two reviewed units but their accuracy is exact enough to reflect what they should be like for any normally functioning editions of the LG SM8600. Slight variations for some of the specs in the sections below might be the case with editions of different sizes.

A Review of the LG NanoCell SM8600 4K HDR LCD TV (49SM8600, 55SM8600, 65SM8600, 75SM8600)

Also Read:
Our In-depth review of TCL’s new 6-Series 4K HDR TV, The Most Affordable Aaesome Premium TV of 2019
Our deep review of TCL’s insanely affordable 2019 4-Series 4K HDR TVs
Our comprehensive review of the stunningly good but affordable Vizio 2019 P-Series Quantum 4K HDR TV

Black Level, uniformity, Local Dimming and Contrast:

As we already clarified earlier, the LG SM8600 is an IPS 4K HDR TV. This essentially means that this TV has a display design in which pixels have much greater horizontal width, IPS (In-plane Switching) TVs bleed a lot of light through their darkened pixels. This of course means really weak contrast and crappy black levels that both become especially noticeable in a dark room. The benefit of IPS is that it also happens to let a TV offer very wide viewing angles, but only some users will care about this more than they do about their 4K TV having great contrast deep black tone capability

A Review of the LG NanoCell SM8600 4K HDR LCD TV (49SM8600, 55SM8600, 65SM8600, 75SM8600)

Because of its IPS display panel, the SM8600 thus only manages a very modest maximum contrast ratio of 990:1 and its overall black uniformity across a fully dark screen and darkest possible black level are both extremely weak. Both of these are unfortunate effects of this TVs IPS screen because both contrast and black level are crucial aspects of good HDR video. But if you want wide viewing angles on a budget, IPS is the way to go. What really does annoy us in all of this however is that the SM8600 also lacks local dimming. This technology -which selectively dims LEDs behind the screen for better dark levels- would have gone a long way towards making an IPS TV like the SM8600 deliver much better picture performance. TCL and Vizio have made local dimming a standard feature of their very affordable 4K HDR TVs, LG apparently won’t for some reason.

A Review of the LG NanoCell SM8600 4K HDR LCD TV (49SM8600, 55SM8600, 65SM8600, 75SM8600)

 

Also Read:
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Also Read:
Our Comprehensive review of Samsung’s most affordable 2019 QLED TV, the Q60R

Brightness:

Brightness-wise, the LG SM8600 does reasonably well for its price when set to view HDR content but in terms of delivery of SDR video sources (which make up the vast majority of content that you’ll view), it’s a really crappy performer. In HDR mode this 4K TV supports all major HDR formats and its combination of strong color performance and decent brightness makes the quality of said high dynamic range rendering fairly decent. However, the maximum peak and sustained HDR brightness of the SM8600 isn’t excellent either and we’ve seen much better from a number of similarly priced HDR LCD TV models. LG’s own SM9000 IPS NanoCell TV gets much, much brighter, for example, even though it costs more. The SM8600 is further hampered by its weak black levels and contrast, which make its bright highlights stand out less than they could.

 

 

LG SM8600 SDR Brightness

  • Overall SDR peak brightness for normal content: 256 nits
  • Peak 2% display area display SDR brightness: 107 nits
  • Peak 10% display area SDR brightness: 190 nits
  • Peak 100% display area SDR brightness: 234 nits
  • Sustained 10% SDR brightness: 194 nits
  • Sustained 100% SDR brightness: 274 nits

A Review of the LG NanoCell SM8600 4K HDR LCD TV (49SM8600, 55SM8600, 65SM8600, 75SM8600)

LG SM8600 TV HDR Brightness

  • Overall HDR peak brightness for normal content: 310 nits
  • Peak 2% display area display HDR brightness: 440 nits
  • Peak 10% display area HDR brightness: 415 nits
  • Peak 100% display area HDR brightness: 342 nits
  • Sustained 10% HDR brightness: 283 nits
  • Sustained 100% HDR brightness: 351 nits

Color Delivery:

Fortunately, the LG SM8600 delivers great color almost across the board. It fully supports HDR color specs and delivers strong 10-bit color gradation while also being very good at delivery of wide color gamut to a reasonably high range. This TVs rendering of vibrant colors during playback of bright scenes is a bit weak but since the SM8600 doesn’t output extreme luminosity anyhow, this isn’t a huge problem. On the other hand, color accuracy is also great in the SM8600 as long as its picture settings receive a bit of calibration. Right out of the box, the TV is pretty inaccurate at delivering realistic, vibrant colors though.

A Review of the LG NanoCell SM8600 4K HDR LCD TV (49SM8600, 55SM8600, 65SM8600, 75SM8600)

Most importantly in a general sense, the SM8600 will output strong and rich colors that look realistic when it’s used to play both ordinary TV content and vibrant HDR video sources. The color vibrancy of the SM8600 is spoiled a bit by the weak blacks produced by its IPS display but if you bought it knowing you wanted wide IPS viewing angles, this is a fair tradeoff. Furthermore, because of its IPS display, the SM8600 delivers excellent color saturation even when viewed from way off dead center. Typical LCD TVs with VA display can’t deliver that.

Here are the SM8600’s key color delivery specs:

A Review of the LG NanoCell SM8600 4K HDR LCD TV (49SM8600, 55SM8600, 65SM8600, 75SM8600)

  • Pre-calibration White Balance delta-E: 5.41
  • Pre-calibration Color delta-E: 3.48
  • Pre-calibration Gamma: 2.22
  • Post-calibration White Balance delta-E: 0.45
  • Post-calibration Color delta-E: 0.92
  • Post-calibration Gamma: 2.12
  • Wide Color Gamut: 92.8%

Motion Handling & Upscaling:

The LG SM8600’s motion handling is more than adequate for most buyers. We’ve seen much better from a number of other mid-range LCD 4K HDR TVs but this model does a very decent job at most motion metrics. For starters, its pixel response time is great at 4.1 milliseconds, which measures how quickly pixels change color as content shifts across the screen. This of course means low motion blur.

Secondly, the SM8600 comes with a native 120Hz display panel and can interpolate motion with slower frame rates very smoothly on this screen. This is great for both movie/TV show playback and gaming. When it comes to judder control for 24p content, the SM8600 performs extremely well too, and can handle judder-free content delivery from disc media, broadcast, streaming and HDMI sources without a problem.

A Review of the LG NanoCell SM8600 4K HDR LCD TV (49SM8600, 55SM8600, 65SM8600, 75SM8600)

On the other hand, the SM8600 doesn’t have any variable refresh rate technology like FreeSync or G-Sync for smoother gaming. In general though, this particular 4K TV delivers very good motion handling.

In terms of content upscaling, like virtually all modern 4K UHD TVs, the SM8600 offers excellent sharpening of any well-mastered content from just about any source. 1080p video sources look wonderfully sharp on this TV and even 720p and 480p video is rendered sharply.

Input Performance for Gaming and PC:

The gaming and PC connectivity chops of the LG SM8600 are really good for the most part. The native 120Hz panel of this TV lets it handle high frame-rate gaming adequately and the TVs input response time under most resolution, HDR, color and frame rate settings is great during console gaming. Input lag in game mode is superbly low almost across the board. One flaw is the lack of frame rate smoothing technology like FreeSync or G-Sync but unless you’re very serious about gaming, this isn’t a huge problem. Because the SM8600 lacks HDMI 2.1, it can’t deliver 4K at 120Hz. LG’s OLED TVs can do this however.

A Review of the LG NanoCell SM8600 4K HDR LCD TV (49SM8600, 55SM8600, 65SM8600, 75SM8600)

Here are the SM8600’s important input and PC connectivity specs:

  • 4k @ 60Hz: 13.9 ms
  • 1080p @ 60Hz: 13 ms
  • 1080p @ 120Hz: 6.8
  • 1080p @ 60Hz outside Game Mode: 33 ms
  • 4k @ 60Hz + HDR: 14.5 ms
  • 1440p @ 60Hz: 13.4 ms
  • 4k @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode : 37.2 ms
  • 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4: 33.5 ms
  • 4K @ 120Hz: N/A
  • 1440p @ 120Hz: 6.9 ms
  • 1080p with FreeSync: N/A
  • 4K with interpolation activated: 88.7 ms

PC Gaming Input Connectivity

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

Connectivity

In terms of connectivity ports, the SM8600 is fully hooked up with the usual essentials. It comes with four HDMI ports with 4K capability at 60Hz and offers three USB ports. There’s also full high speed WiFi connectivity and an Ethernet port. It’s only real defect is a lack of HDMI 2.1 but since this isn’t yet important for any commercial 4K content anyhow, it won’t be a problem for most users.

8 4

The following are the LG SM8600’s ports and their specifications:

  • HDMI : 4 (HDCP 2.2 & full HDMI 2.0a capacity)
  • HDMI 2.1 : N/A
  • 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

The LG SM8600 TV models also offer audio connectivity in the following types.

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

Pricing

LG is selling the SM8600 4K ultra HD HDR LCD Smart TV models in four different sizes. Thus, you have the choice of a really economical 49 inch edition, a sizeable 55 or 65 inch version and a huge 75 inch model that would be particularly excellent for home theater fans who want a deeply immersive experience.

These 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 NanoCell SM8600 4K HDR LCD TV (49SM8600, 55SM8600, 65SM8600, 75SM8600)

Check out LG’s ultra affordable SM8600 2019 4K HDR LCD TV on sale at Amazon

4.7 – 4 Reviews
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