Beyond the feature circus is a decent television, too. Yet most of what you pay for here is a rad feature set—not prize-winning picture quality. The G3 is a perfect centerpiece to the fully-connected, tech-heavy home.
Sharp and well-connected, with just the right amount of flash
The GA6400 is a looker. The gunmetal grey bezels are less than two centimeters wide, and a shiny silver trim flits along the outermost borders of the entire display. A uniquely formed metal stand with gentle curves and a quiet brushed finish poses modestly below.
The design is more than just attractive, though—it's intelligent too. The TV swivels easily from side to side, and go-to ports sit conveniently on the left edge, facing out for effortless access; included here are four HDMI ports, three USB hookups, and an inlet for the much-loved IR Blaster (more on this below). The remaining ports are on the back of the same left side, and facing the floor; these include a 3.5mm headphone jack, a coaxial antenna in, an optical digital audio out, a shared component/composite in, and a LAN hookup.
But our favorite design feature is undeniably the TV's remote. LG's Magic Remote lives up to its name, sporting a dedicated button for the very effective voice controls, a "gesture" button that activates motion-sensing properties, a wheel for scrolling webpages, and a full keypad for typing out words and phrases. We love this remote.
A real feature beast
In the way of features, this TV is a bit of a beast. One of its most formidable feature fangs? The IR Blaster that interacts with your cable box. For years, television-watchers have griped about the pile of remotes under the coffee table, but kiss the Comcast controller goodbye; this TV talks to the cable box so you don't have to. With a click of a button, users can say, "ESPN channel," and voilà! Men in stretchy pants appear, throwing footballs. The IR Blaster cables need to be quite close to the cable box in order to get a signal, though. Additionally—and this is a tip the manual doesn't bother to share—if you just say "ESPN," the TV sends you to the web. You must say "ESPN channel" if you want the television station. Lastly, if something goes wrong, the TV won't tell you. You may say "Cartoon Network channel," and the TV remains disobediently on ESPN; it doesn't tell you why, but we figured out that it was because the IR Blaster was too far from the cable box.
As for the smart platform itself, it functions quickly and it looks great, too. With the exception of HuluPlus, most of the apps you want are there: Amazon Video, Netflix, HBO Go, YouTube, and several others. Best of all, with a press of the voice button on the remote, users can say a movie or show title and the TV tells you: if that movie is currently on live TV, whether it will be soon, whether it's available on Netflix, and where to buy or rent and for how much. Shopping for a movie across different platforms is easy as pie.
The Google Play store constitutes a silly, abbreviated selection with made-for-TV apps like Solitaire and PapiTrampoline. We found a couple of fun ones, such as Dragon, Fly!, but for the most part, users will only want this store for access to movies and shows. But the TV comes with several useful apps, too; Google's Chrome browser works surprisingly well, thanks to the remote's magic wand gesture controls, its scroll wheel (which only works on web pages), and its voice command button. The biggest perk, though, is the full Qwerty keyboard, for fast, comfortable typing. For the first time, I found myself strolling around the web on a TV—just for fun.
Sometimes we worry that feature parades double as diversions, but that isn't the case here.
As for performance, the GA6400 series does a standup job. Its picture can't compete with the flagship big-boys, but this TV can shine when it wants to. True, the contrast ratio—or width of difference between how light and dark the TV gets—is admittedly disappointing. When a TV can deliver dramatically deep blacks and blinding peak whites, it lends more reality and depth to a picture, so it's a very important part of a television's performance. The 47-inch GA6400's pitiable black level borders on deep grey, but its peak brightness is quite dazzling, so the overall spectrum of darks and lights delivers pleasing everyday content—but it's nothing special. The viewing angle, as with many LEDs, is lamentable as well, so if you sit on the far end of the sofa, your view will look worse than if you were sitting front and center.
Color proved to be a strong-point for this display, however, and that is a very important part of a TV's capabilities. This LG produces a full and accurate array of hues, and the transitions from one color to the next are very smooth, so viewers should enjoy a vibrant, polished picture. To top it all off, the energy efficiency is top-notch, and the 12-watt speakers are above average.
Passive 3D that really jumps out at you
LG has a reputation for excellent 3D technology, so the whole TV team gathered together in the lab to see Monsters vs Aliens—in manner of tweenagers. We weren't disappointed. The movie looked great, the passive glasses felt comfortable, and not a trace of crosstalk—visible haziness that occurs when the left eye sees something meant for the right eye—fettered the experience.
And don't worry about how much the glasses cost; four battery-free pairs ship with the TV (even though last year's G2 came with six). Best of all, they aren't tragically nerdy and they barely weigh a thing!
Go go gadget!
The GA6400 series delivers an attractive picture, convincing passive 3D, enjoyable web-browsing, and streamlined access to content. Searching for movies through several providers is easier than ever, and LG's Magic Remote takes the headache out of web browsing on a TV. Effective voice vontrol, efficient gesture functions, a handy scroll wheel, and a full remote keypad combine for a tasty shmorgishborg of easy interfacing. Many users tire of tinkering with an app on a smartphone when they sit down to watch TV, and the provision of a consolidated keypad on the remote is a feature we're very glad to have.
LG lowered the initial asking price for the Google TV this year, by about $350, but because its picture quality didn't absolutely blow us away, we would recommend trying to find it on sale. The 47GA6400 we tested carries an MSRP of $1349.99, but we found this display online for under $1000. Prices aside, if you have feature-lust that just can't be stopped, smart TV like this is hard to top.
Our reviews are all about the science, so we like to share our data to back up our front-page stance. We mentioned this GA6400's middling contrast ratio, its stingy viewing angle, and its commendable color performance, but we saved the details for last. Read on to find out how we test, and why.
This TV eats color for breakfast.
This LG stumbled several times throughout its test run in the lab, but it proved sure-footed when it came to color. As a TV jumps through our color-test hoops, we pay close attention to several areas of performance, starting with its color gamut. For every TV we test, we measure it with comparison to a standard, ideal color gamut—Rec. 709. Based on that comparison, we can tell if a TV over or undersaturates certain colors, and in this case, things were spot-on; the 47-inch GA6400 we tested is nearly perfect in this regard, with only slightly overly-vibrant blues and reds, and a practically perfect white point.
Hoop number two tests the television's color curves, which describe how well the display transitions from one color to the next. Though its reds ramp up in luminance on a more intense level than the rest of the colors, and therefore peaks too early, the lines progress very smoothly. Blue peaks a bit early as well, and that means that at the brightest end of the spectrum, there won't be definition in red and blue hues.
Finally, hoop number three tests the display's color temperature across the greyscale, to see if its picture is too warm or too cool. Again, the GA6400 did a fine job maintaining the right temperatures. The only errors that occurred were at the darkest end of the greyscale, so even though dark greys on the TV have a bit of an orange tone, it is not a particularly visible error.
When Batman looks more like grey-man.
Contrast ratio is a prized number for a TV. How dark and how bright a display can get really speaks to how lifelike a picture can be, because that greyscale is what every TV uses to build the contours of an onscreen subject. To find a TV's contrast ratio, we simply divide its 20% average picture level (APL) brightness by its 20% APL black level, and in this case, that equalled 1075:1—an entirely average result.
But a contrast ratio doesn't give you the complete picture. Think of it this way: When Indiana Jones emerges from a dark tunnel, torch in hand, how convincing are those blacks? In this case, not very: This LG produced a black level of 0.27 cm2 during testing. It really ramped up in brightness, with 290.17 cm2 for its peak luminance, but that doesn't diminish the fact that this TV's blacks aren't very black.
All things considered, this TV is a solid machine that will please most viewers, but its weak black levels won't be able to capture the lifelike drama that a real picture purist will want.
Think twice before fighting your sibling over that armrest seat.
A total viewing angle of just 39° really devalues that end-of-sofa territory. Sure, you made your brother say "uncle" and you got the armrest seat, but now you're stuck with greatly diminished contrast ratio.
How do we know this? We measured the TV's contrast ratio in increments, starting from head-on (0°) and moving in an arc toward a perpendicular view (90°). When the contrast ratio drops below 50% of its original reading, we flag it. If you sit at more than a 19.5° angle from this LG TV, your viewing experience will suffer significantly.
Meet the tester
Checking our work.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.Shoot us an email