In the race to create the best 4K TV, manufacturers know that a sharp picture alone won't cut it. LG's 65UF9500 ($2,999) uses the company's webOS software to coordinate picture settings and its smart-TV–connected services, which are more advanced and slicker than what you'll find on competing sets, augmented by a remote that acts like a wireless mouse. This 65-inch LCD TV uses an edge-lit design with local dimming, a technique that attempts to increase the amount of visible detail in shadowy scenes. The results are mixed.
The LG 65UF9500 also supports 3D programs, using a passive system so that viewers can use lighter glasses like those usually found in movie theaters, rather than heavier, battery-powered active glasses. (LG includes two pairs of glasses with the set.) To make the TV stand out in showrooms, and in your living room, LG has also given the set an unusual design. While pricey, overall, the 65UF9500 is worth the splurge for those who want a 4K set that's as easy to use as it is on the eyes.
Design: Space-Age flair
The LG 65UF9500 looks more like something designed by an aircraft company than the product of a consumer electronics firm. Its chrome-trimmed bezel is thin (about a third of an inch thick) and disappears in a darkened room. Turn the set slightly sideways, and you'll notice that rather than basic black, this TV is sheathed in a glossy white chassis.
Although it's just under 2 inches thick, the LG 65UF9500 is a big display and weighs just over 56 pounds. Fortunately, the accompanying chrome tabletop stand is extremely solid and stable. However, the swooping pedestal design means it won't pair easily with a soundbar or sound stand. On the other hand, most people who buy this model will want to connect it to a home-theater sound system.
The 65UF9500 includes four HDMI ports, component and composite video inputs, optical for audio, a RF (coaxial) input for antenna or cable, an Ethernet jack, and built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi. This is one HDMI port shy of what many other sets in this category offer, but it's certainly sufficient for most owners.
Image Quality: Good color, so-so contrast
Overall, the LG65UF9500 delivers a good 4K picture and upscales lesser HD material quite well. In testing, however, it did offer some mixed results that revealed some trade-offs due to some technical choices made by the designers.
The set uses a particular type of LCD panel called an IPS (for in-plane switching) display. This technology approach improves viewing angles but can have a deleterious effect on contrast (compared to VA or vertical alignment panels). I certainly noticed the better-than-average off-axis viewing on the LG 65UF9500. I was able to move farther out to the sides before colors began to wash out.
Unfortunately, I also noted less-than-ideal contrast. In dark scenes, such as shots of outer space in Gravity, the LG 65UF9500 yielded impressively dark-black areas for an edge-lit set (thanks, no doubt to the local dimming LG uses). Usually, such sets appear to have a grayish cast. However, the relatively low contrast meant that fewer stars were visible as Sandra Bullock flipped out in space. In our test measurements, contrast ratios for the LG 65UF9500 didn't match those of the top-performing models, such as the Sony XBR-65X950B.
LG also says it employs different phosphors in the 65UF9500 to widen the range of colors the TV can reproduce. In the set's best preset mode, Cinema, there was more variety to the colors in the 65UF9500, but it also had a particular bias. In a 4K video of Costa Rica's flora and fauna, the LG set yielded more yellowish greens in jungle shots, while lizards and spiders had brighter yellow patterns set against black backgrounds. Conversely, in close-ups in the Skyfall Blu-ray, facial skin tones looked ever so slightly yellow, whereas other sets tend to overcompensate with red, making faces look rosier.
As for video processing and upscaling HD material to ultra-HD resolution, the LG 65UF9500 did well. There were no digital gremlins in rapid chase scenes. The edges of furniture looked relatively sharp in Blu-ray scenes, without the excessive jagged lines that can sometimes be the result of poor upscaling.
Audio Quality: Power and highs
The 65UF9500 produces sufficient sound levels to keep action movie fans happy, thanks to 60 watts of total power. In cinema mode, the set also did well dispersing the sound for a wider, theaterlike experience.
In playing music videos, such as Robyn's Call Your Girlfriend, the LG 65UF9500 tended to overemphasize the highs and lacked deeper bass elements. On the other hand, on the soundtrack of Skyfall, the set did an excellent job (for a flat-screen TV), reproducing Adele's voice and the peaks of her vocal range.
Interface: Fast and fun
LG has done a great job leveraging webOS software for its smart TVs. The graphics are attractive, and the options are logically laid out, making it a pleasure to use. LG has tweaked the software slightly in this version and added a quad-core processor to speed things along.
webOS includes a full Web browser and voice recognition, which often seems like a gimmick, unless you watch TV alone and do a lot of searches. I still like the general arrangement of webOS with its angled tabs along the bottom of the screen for services such as Amazon, Netflix, and Skype. On the left side of the screen, a home button gives you quick access to picture and sound adjustments.
Remote: The flying mouse
The 65UF9500 comes with LG's Magic Remote Control, which is essentially a wireless mouse that you wave to direct the on-screen cursor. You'll either love it or hate it.
I found that after a little practice, I've become addicted to how quick and responsive this remote is compared to conventional IR wand-style clickers.
This version is larger than the previous incarnation and has a built-in microphone for the voice-recognition feature. My only complaint was that the home button is located where one would expect the OK or select button to be found. One has to depress the clickable wheel in the center of the four-way directional pad instead.
Once you've seen LG's OLED TVs, it's difficult to forget how brilliant and sharp they are compared to everything else, even LG's own LCD ultra-HD sets. However, LG's 55-inch 4K OLED starts at $5,000, or $2,000 more than this larger, 65-inch 4K LCD TV. For $3,000, the LG 65UF9500 is a perfectly capable ultra-HD TV that delivers a head-turning design and wide viewing angles, although the contrast could be better.
If you're on a tighter budget, there are several less expensive ultra-HD sets of this size available with comparable or better pictures, such as the $2,000 Samsung 65JU6500. However, none of the competition's sets match the LG in terms of cosmetics or smart-TV features.