Depending on whom you ask, 2010 was either a banner launch year for 3D flat panel HDTVs or it was a dud. Initial estimates from various industry sources contended that by year’s end millions of 3D TVs would find their way into consumers’ homes. While the 2010 3D TV sales numbers are somewhat nebulous, multiple consumer surveys pointed to the high cost of active shutter LCD 3D glasses as a barrier to adoption.
Perhaps prescient, LG Electronics debuted a number of 3D TV models at this year’s CES in January that dispense with the active shutter 3D glasses in favor of much less expensive passive polarized glasses, the kind you’ll find at your local 3D movie theater.
Active shutter 3D glasses provide better stereoscopic separation, but are much too costly for movie theaters, as they can’t be easily nor cheaply sanitized for re-use, so the vast majority of commercial 3D movie theaters go the passive polarized route, most of them relying on RealD’s passive glasses technology.
It’s also important to note that LG’s adoption of passive polarized 3D glasses only applies to their new 2011 LED LCD 3D models, as their plasma 3D models still require the more expensive active shutter 3D glasses.
Consider this 3D HDTV if: you have a large brood at home that makes purchasing multiple additional pairs of active shutter 3D glasses a financial burden
Look elsewhere if: you’re looking for the best 3D in-home experience, which for now will require active shutter 3D glasses
Ratings (relative to comparably-priced 3D HDTVs):
• Overall picture quality (HD): 8
• Features: 9
• Connectivity: 9
• User interface: 9
• Value: 7
Pretty much packed to the gills, the main differentiator between this LG and most other 3D flat panel HDTVs is the adoption of polarized 3D technology, which pairs the LED backlit 1080p LCD imaging panel with an optical coating that provides the 3D polarizing effect on a line-by-line basis. Called frame patterned retarder (FPR) technology, each horizontal scan line is polarized in a different orientation relative to the next, and when paired with inexpensive polarized 3D glasses (just like the kind used in commercial 3D movie theaters), the technology provides some benefits compared to active shutter 3D glasses technology.
The first obvious benefit is the lower cost of passive glasses. And, with passive polarized glasses, the amount of light attenuation is significantly less compared to active types, resulting in a brighter picture. Plus, since there’s no left eye/right eye, on/off shuttering, there’s no chance of flicker artifacts. And since they’re not battery-powered, passive 3D glasses require no battery replacement or constant battery re-charging. They’re also lighter, too. LG claims a 3-to-1 preference of passive versus active 3D glasses, according to a consumer survey they commissioned.
The downside to passive FPR 3D technology is that viewable resolution is halved, compared to a 2D or active shutter 3D viewing experience, and that polarized scan line artifacts such as jaggies are inevitable.
The 47LW5600 is pretty much loaded from a feature standpoint, and comes with 120 Hz screen refresh and LED edgelighting with local dimming. It’s very Internet friendly and comes with an RJ-45 LAN port for wired connectivity, and ships with a wireless Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n USB adapter. While the range of available Internet apps isn’t as broad as some others (Sony and Samsung seem to be out in front in that department at the moment), the set is nonetheless equipped with subscription streaming capabilities from major content providers such as NetFlix and CinemaNow.
It also features a built-in web browser, making it easier to get to specific content on the ‘net, such as popular video sites like YouTube. There’s a virtual QWERTY keyboard and the 5600 model ships with a second “Magic Motion” wand-type remote that works in a fashion not dissimilar to game console motion remotes such as the Wii. But when I tried to watch an episode of Modern Family on ABC’s website, the browser returned an error message stating that Adobe’s Flash viewer was required, and efforts to install it as you would on a PC failed outright.
As with some other LG models, the 5600 also features ISF calibration capability, which when completed by a suitably competent calibration technician, provides calibrated Day and Night picture modes, each optimized for the correct brightness in daylight and evening viewing conditions.