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LG Cinema 3D TV: For Once, Being Passive is Good

by Paul Strauss

The folks at LG were kind enough to loan me one of their Cinema 3D HDTVs for the last couple of weeks, and I wanted to share with you my experiences with the set, and the 3D technology it uses. The set I test-drove was the LG Infinia 47LW5600, a full 1080p, LED-edge-lit LCD screen.


I’ll start out by saying that this is the first time I’ve had a 3D TV in my home, as I had just purchased a brand new 58″ plasma months before all the 3D sets came out, and never really saw a need to upgrade. Other than the fact that my set was just fine without 3D, I really didn’t like the expensive, headache-inducing shutter glasses that came with most sets. So when I found out the LG set I was going to get to test drive would use passive lens glasses, I was happy.

I count myself among the masses of you out there who can’t stand the idea of a) paying $100 or more for a set of 3D glasses you’ll use only every once in a while; b) having yet one more gadget to recharge; and c) sitting there and getting a headache after watching 30 minutes of content. I’m happy to tell you that the LG Cinema 3D set I tested has none of these problems. LG’s Cinema 3D displays use a special set of polarizing layers which allow you to use the same sort of cheap polarized glasses you get at the movie theater. In my experience with the display, I found these to be far more pleasant than any of the other 3D glasses I’ve tried on at various trade shows and at the store when checking out 3D sets.

me_3dSee, don’t I look stylish in my 3D specs? Ok, not really. But the real question is, how good is the 3D? Well, I’m happy to say that the LG Cinema 3D display produced tremendous depth with original 3D content, and I was able to sit for long sessions without a headache the sort of general discomfort the flickering active lens 3D glasses cause for me. Now, there is a trade-off with this technology – horizontal line resolution is cut in half for each frame, sending only half the display’s 1920×1080 resolution to each eye (540 lines). What I noticed was that when watching content in 3D, it was slightly softer than in 2D and on active lens systems, but for the most part I’d say it was worth the trade-off. I’d rather be able to sit through a movie without my eyes killing me than to be able to see every pimple on the actors’ faces.

I tested the LG display with a variety of 3D content, including Blu-ray discs, Satellite 3D content, and 3D video games. Images in movies like Alice in Wonderland and Despicable Me jumped far off the screen, and made me feel like I was in the theater (without all the screaming kids and sticky popcorn goo on the floor). But I’ll be honest, 3D sets are only as good as the content, and at this point, the selection and variety of quality 3D movies and programs is still pretty limited. Never mind the fact that you’ll be paying a premium for 3D discs. Most 3D Blu-rays (when you can find them) will set you back around $40 instead of the regular $20-$25. On the other hand 3D gaming seems to be the most promising use for these displays at the moment. I hooked up my PS3, and had a blast playing Killzone 3, Super Stardust HD and the beta of Uncharted 3 on this set and they all looked great. Here’s a shot of Drake’s Deception running in 3D mode. Of course, it’s always hard to glean anything from a 2D photo of a stereoscopic image, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that it looks good.


There’s no way I could have survived my 5-hour FPS 3D gaming session with active shutter 3D glasses. I think I would have hurled. Sure, I took a couple of 2 minute breaks, but was able to get right back to it with the lightweight and comfortable passive lenses.

The display also offers a 2D-to-3D mode, which manages to extract simulated depth from any source material (although it doesn’t appear to work with content in the Smart TV application.) Depth was definitively less pronounced and realistic than with true 3D source material, but I’m still always amazed that they can even provide the illusion of 3D depth from random content. It’s more of a novelty than anything else, but if you want to wear your 3D glasses all the time, there’s a way you can do it.

So with all that said about the 3D aspects of the 47LW5600, here’s a rundown of some of the other features of the set. Since it’s an edge-lit display, it’s super thin (just over 1″ thick when hung on the wall,) and looks great from the side. In general, I didn’t see too much in the way of cloudiness or variance in brightness that edge-lit displays often exhibit, except on a pitch black screen. And if that bugs you, LG does offer a version of local-dimming to increase contrast and black levels, but I found the feature to be annoying at times, causing occasional jumps in intensity and too much blooming in really high contrast scenes. With an edge-lighting setup, it’s tough to pull off true local-dimming anyhow. Colors on the set were vibrant, and contrast was as good as any of today’s better LED/LCD sets. That said, I still prefer the more natural contrast you get out of a plasma screen – but that’s just me. Refresh rate for the display is 120Hz, which is plenty for eliminating blur on fast motion. Gor those of you who balk at anything less than a 240Hz refresh rate, get over it. Human eyes can’t tell the difference. You only really need higher refresh rates for active lens 3D in order to decrease flicker and blurring in fast-moving 3D scenes. Since this set doesn’t work that way, you won’t miss it.

The set also features LG’s Smart TV suite, which offers access to Netflix, YouTube, FaceBook and other web apps. I found that these apps generally loaded much faster than on my 1-1/2 year old Samsung, but I still prefer the versions of these apps on my PS3 and Apple TV over the ones built into displays at this point. You can also stream media from your DLNA-capable home computer (LG includes a copy of Nero MediaHome Essentials for streaming from Windows PCs).

Each set includes a Wi-Fi dongle for connecting to your network (I wish this was built-in), but it doesn’t protrude from the back of the set, so it’s really not a big deal.Inputs are plentiful with 4 HDMI, 2 component, 1 component, and one RF port on back. There are two USB ports as well – one for content, and the other that’s occupied by the Wi-Fi dongle. They also include 4 sets of 3D glasses (along with protective microfiber pouches.) Additional glasses retail for $12.50 a pair, but you can find them for a few dollars less online.

The LG Infinia 47LW5600 set has a list price of $1699 (USD), but you can find it online for as little as $1000 to $1200. It’s definitely not the cheapest 47-inch display on the market, but if you want a 3D TV and think there’s enough content out there to justify a purchase, it’s definitely worth considering the LG Cinema 3D display or one of its larger 55″ or 65″ brethren. Until such time that someone makes a glasses-free display that actually works without major artifacts and distortion, I’m putting my vote in the passive lens camp.

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Comments (29):

  1. sam says:

    great technological innovation. i am sure this is internet ready and i will be using it with another also great innovation, online tv tvhook.com. this is truly a great era to live in.

  2. 3DTVfanactic says:

    I really support LG Cinema 3D because the glasses are cheap and they are so much better than active glasses I mean come on people black flashing in front of your eyes!

    The 2d parts of the TVs are great to and awesome for many of the new 3D games coming out. Good job LG on this one.

  3. JR says:

    I love the LG Cinema 3D TV. All of the TVs are great because the are flicker free and have much less cross talk. I am a proud owner of a 55″ LW6500 and the remote is awesome!

    The TVs have a much wider viewing angle and are much healthier for kids if your worried about your daughters eyes like me she spends 8+ hours a day on the computer at school in front of the TV on her phone ETC. Cinema 3D TV is some much better.

    I put my vote in for passive too.

  4. Sean says:

    Thank you for including video games in this review! I’ve been looking everywhere for someone to review a passive TV taking PS3 games into account and this is the first one I’ve found, and youre even using the very TV I was considering buying! Thanks again.

  5. Jessica says:

    Great review. I’m with you that LG 3D TV is better than active 3D sets in that you don’t have to spend ridiculous amount of money on glasses that give you headaches and eyestrains and that it gives comfortable and pleasant 3D experience.

  6. Jon G says:

    I have one of these TVs and it’s great. I switch off the trumotion (120hz) setting for most things as it makes normal tv looks like home video, but it’s apparently good for sports. I’m a bit picky about picture quality and was worried about the drop in resolution with 3D, but to be honest, it looks great and I couldn’t tell the difference – you’re still getting 1080p, just 540 to each eye. The 3D is also much brighter than active shutter. When I was checking out the TVs in the stores, I watched clips of Avatar in 3D on a Panasonic on active shutter. The darker scenes were so dark, I could barely make out what was being shown, kind of like watching TV while wearing sunglasses.

  7. christian says:

    do u think the vizio 3d polarized hd tv does work well with uncharted 3 aswell?

  8. Jon Gray says:

    Just to update, I’ve been playing Crysis 2 and Batman Arkham City on Xbox 360 in 3d. Both look great with no noticeable lag. Crysis uses a side-by-side 3d which cuts vertical resolution, but Batman uses alternate frame type 3d and looks amazing. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this tv for gaming.

  9. Ron Nelson Jr. says:

    The review you posted is one of the best I have read.
    You brought up good point / counterpoints on the passive and active technology.
    I hope many surfers pass by this site and read your excellent article.
    I for one checked out both formats; and I am definitely on board with the Passive camp. Let us just point out that this economy will also dictate the winner here, and passive is definitely the cheapest and effective alternative to 3d. I checked out the Lg Unfinished at Best Buy, and was very impressed with the 3dPassive demonstration. The picture at many points just jumped at you.
    Hope to read more from you.

  10. Teknik says:

    Did you use your PS3 for viewing the movies also?

    Thank you for providing this review. I have been contemplating getting an FPR TV but was hesitant because I didn’t know if it would work with my PS3 as the player. I guess nothing special needs to be done with the video signal since it just splits the vertical resolution?

    • Technabob says:

      Yeah, I used the PS3 and my DirecTV box for viewing 3D content. Both worked fine, and the PS3 Blu-ray HD movies looked great. Nothing special is required to make this work – the set automatically handles either side-by-side (DirecTV-style) or sequential 3D signals (Blu-ray style).

  11. Christina says:

    Purchased LG 5600 3D, also purchased 3D blue-ray movies, none of them jump off the screen and 3d blue-ray movies packages state 3D but not passive whereby the images will jump off screen. How do I know what 3D movies to purchase for a Passive TV that will jump off screen. Do you know of any or perhaps I have to do somethigng to my TV to make them jump off screen? Many thanks please help me at my e-mail above.

    • Technabob says:

      Are you sure you have the Blu-ray player and TV both set to 3D mode? I did notice that the LG set had to be set to 3D mode manually sometimes (it’s somewhere on the remote control from what I recall).

      You don’t need to buy any special movies as long as they are designated as 3D and your Blu-ray player has 3D support.

    • jonathan says:

      i’ve got the passive 3d lg 42inch set with ps3. I’ve noticed that the “synthetic” 3d (3d setting on tv 2d>3d) gives depth 3d appearance INSIDE the screen (apparently) whereas “real” 3d will come OUT of the screen. BUT still not sure about the different settings of 3d when ps3 attached as for 3d on the tv left right and position can be set. I’m still confused. Also once standard picture gave much better 3d on the tv video setting than movie setting????

    • Kneel says:

      You are referring to pop out. Most movies do NOT have this effect in it. 3D is both depth and pop out. I have bought several 3D movies and the Animated ones like Kung Fu panda 2 and Despicable me have pop out. Movies like Smurfs 3D and Conan did not have that much pop out.

      • Technabob says:

        That said, I find that pop-out is much more effective on a Passive 3D tv than on an active one for some reason. I ultimately bought a Samsung active display for myself because I preferred the sharpness of the 3D images over the passive, but I do miss the depth of the LG.

  12. John says:

    I think passive is definitely the way to go, but if you’re going to buy a 3DTV there are other issues to consider as well.

  13. Teknik says:

    Thanks for following up. I guess the next question for me is: “Do I wait to see if next year’s model improves the local dimming/black level issues noted with this TV, or do I buy now?”


    Thanks, John for posting the blogspot link. Technabob, did you have issues with settings on the LG?

  14. Sam says:

    I just bought a LG 3D tv. Today I decided to try a 3D movie with a pair of the plain passive cinema glasses. Only to learn that my tv is only comparable with one set of glasses the AG -S250 which are 100 a pair… Very disappointed!

  15. Beggi says:

    Hi, I just bought myself a LG monitor that has cinema 3D and the 2d to 3d conversion on it. I connected it to my xbox 360 with a high speed HDMI and when I turn on the 2d to 3d conversion I don´t get any 3D at all. The conversion doesn´t do anything when I connect it to my PC either. Any suggestions to help me with this dilemma?

  16. Don says:

    We purchased a LG 3d tv, model 47lw5600, and it will not display the 3d channels correctly. We can watch 3d movies okay, but the channels come in with a split screen. The first couple of weeks we had the tv it seemed to work fine, then it went to the split screen. We had recorded some 3d shows and the first time we watched them they were fine, then they went to the split screen also. We are very disappointed and dissatisfied with the tv. We contacted lg and directv and were told this tv was not compatible. I dont think they should sell a tv that is not compatible unless they tell you ahead of time.

  17. database1 says:

    Did you upgrade your plasma TV yet? Anyways, thank you for your review. It helped me make my final decision to purchase the LG 47″ LM6200 a couple days ago. I haven’t used all the features yet, but I will get to it soon. Thanks again.

  18. Katherine Martin says:

    This Cinema 3D TV is truly one-of-a-kind! It’s true that it is quite expensive but given its specifications and features, it’s definitely worth buying. I have been checking out other LG 3D TV’s from their website:

    Their products are really very nice!

  19. Rob Pattinson says:

    Hey guys!
    Thanks for your nice review, has anyone tried LG LM8600? I have heard couple of good reviews for this model. How is the experience of using its magic motion remote?

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