The primary differences between the LG UH8500 model over the UH7700 are a more powerful speaker/audio system at 40W over 20W for the UH7700. Passive 3D is included in the UH8500 along with 2 pairs of glasses. Other than that, pretty much the same TV.
There is no more important component of a 4K UHD TV than the video engine – particularly the ability to upscale/upconvert resolution to the native resolution of the panel. LG’s UH8500 does a very nice job in this regard, and with much improvement over last year’s models. Processing artifacts are cleaned up nicely. The lack of 4K content is going to continue well into the future, so stellar upconverting all manner of HD resolutions 720p, 1080p, 480p is essential. The higher up the HD chain you go, the better the clarity and detail to show off the native 4K resolution. This Video engine and upscaler quality is also one of the differentiating factors moving up the price scale between models within LG. The UH8500 uses a 4 step process to examine and enhance broadcasts, recorded video, and home video game consoles.
LG’s UH8500 uses an IPS (in-plane-switching) panel, albeit a new one for 2016/2017. The IPS panel allows for much better picture quality from side angles without degrading color saturation and contrast much. This is one of the standout features of this TVs picture quality. There are still weaknesses in both with side angle viewing as contrast degrades, but generally the IPS panel is 20%-30% better from angles than non-IPS panel LED TVs. Reflections are also subdued by the IPS panel and front substrate.
Colors do to render more depth and slightly better saturation in these new 4K HDR models. The UH8500 has an expanded color gamut meeting HDR standards. LG contends this is due to their new Color Prime technology-which uses phosphor (colored) based LED lighting. Out of the box colors are oversaturated but after calibrating the picture settings or using the cinema (user) setting with contrast at around 80% you get natural, crisp colors.
The big focus TV feature for 2016/2017 is HDR (High Dynamic Range). HDR extends the range that a pixel in an LCD TV can show. This applies to the brightness and luminosity of images. Contrast is enhanced by increased brightness rather than deeper blacks. Rather than just increase the brightness of the picture overall though, the real purpose of HDR is to increase contrast in various image areas of the picture. It improves the presentation in the brighter parts of the picture and this creates more contrast with surrounding darker parts of the picture. Since picture contrast is one of the primary features in improving perceived depth, HDR is considered a major picture quality improvement even though it may not increase the overall contrast of the panel a lot. Bright colors receive enhanced purity. A good HDR image will show better shadow detail, and the scenes that you will notice the most are those with light illuminating images, such as a room that has sunlight coming in through a window and illuminating parts of the room. HDR content is and will be in short supply for a while.
The studios, distributors (Netflix, Amazon) and TV manufacturer must all be on the same page for you to see HDR content. Some Amazon Original series are currently offered. Vudu currently offers 30+ Dolby Vision titles. Dolby Vision is HDR plus wide color gamut.
The same IPS panel that causes the UH8500 to excel from side angles performs in mediocrity in black level depth and contrast. IPS panels are especially good at side angle viewing capability, but take away from black levels. So if you are a night time, center view, movie watcher this may not be the best TV for you.
The local dimming feature may be turned on or off and affects contrast a good deal. It’s adjustable in High, Medium or Low setting and you will notice the picture darkening progressively from low to high when using the feature. It does not really enhance picture quality much and we recommend the low or medium setting if you are going to use the feature at all.
We thought the passive 3D quality in the UH8500 was superb and noted little to no crosstalk.
The TruMotion feature setting is used for judder reduction. Our recommendation is to turn the TruMotion settings feature off with all but sports programming. It adds that kitschy fake look to the picture by removing too much of the intended background blur. One of our readers called it the “Telenovela” effect to give you some perspective. It’s especially distracting during BluRay movies. It may sharpen older DVDs and give you a new perspective on them.
The UH8500 does a nice job of eliminating judder in most content even with the Trumotion setting turned off. Streaming movies and older DVDs may show some, especially in scenes that pan slowly side to side.
The UH8500 has no problem with fast motion video scenes due in part to it’s 120Hz panel.
After taking flack from us and others two years ago, LG has put some effort into speeding Smart TV function with the first WebOS, WebOS 2.0, and now improved even more with the WebOS 3.0 system. Boot up times are faster, and usability is at a high point with 3.0. The interface layout is cleaner and more intuitive and makes sorting your favorite programs very easy with the point and click operation of the new LG Magic Remote (we love the Magic Remote).
Smart TV options are Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, HSN, Showtime, Drama Fever, iHeart Radio, and newly DirecTV.
The one I like for you cable-cutters out there is Sling TV, which for a monthly fee ($20) gets the all important ESPN and ESPN 2 taken care of. It also gives you the addictive and entertaining Food Network.
IheartRadio is an digital audio service which allows streaming of live radio stations.
Simple is the name of the game here. Instead of a home screen with tons of buttons, you get a nice colored strip across the bottom of the screen populated with your favorite apps and the LG store. What you are currently viewing stays on the screen. Click the left arrow on the screen to see your open apps and the right arrow to show all the app downloaded to your TV. We are impressed with the speed of switching between apps. It is instantaneous. Two years ago a big complaint of ours was the poor streaming ability of LG’s Smart TV platform. That’s not the case this year thanks to the complete overhaul of the entire platform. This means the buffering times of streaming content are greatly reduced. Overall, the move to a WebOS based system was a good move on LG’s part.
Sound quality is better than average on the UH8500 probably due to the Harman Kardon design influence. Volume capability is much better than competing models. 35% volume level is plenty to fill a large room. Clear voice 2 was our favorite audio alternative. The UH8500 packs 40watts of audio output as compared to 20watts for the UH7700.
The UH8500 has very nice clean lines and a small half inch bezel frame. The TVs depth is less than 2” and though the TV is not curved the attractive and well-made metallic silver stand is curved, which lends a nice artistic modern touch. There is an indention for the bezel frame which is absent in the seemless design of the higher priced cinema screen design TVs. But for the price difference I like this one better.
55UH8500 – $1800 – 87/100
60UH8500 – $2000 – 88/100
65UH8500 – $2200 – 89/100
75UH8500 – $3900 – 79/100
Price points on the UH8500 are a bit better in the smaller sizes. The UH8500 compares with similar LED 4K HDR models from Samsung and Sony. The UH8500 has all the bells and whistles needed to future proof for HDR, Dolby Vision, and 4K UHD content. The WebOS 3.0 system works great and the Magic Remote is always fun and easy. Passive 3D is a plus for those that want it. All this is enveloped in a sleek modern very attractive package. Medium quality black levels and contrast are drawbacks.