LG SK9500 Review (65SK9500PUA) – Top Model of LG’s 2018 4K HDR LED TV
LG SK9500 is the flagship of LG’s 2018 Super UHD LED TV and also the successor of SJ9500, the flagship of LG’s 2017 Super UHD 4K HDR LED TV. At a glance, its appearance is almost similar to the predecessor. And just like the predecessor, in North America, it is also available in one screen size only, which is 65 Inch (65SK9500PUA). As the top model of LG’s 2018 TV lineup, it offers the best picture quality and performance than the lower models, but of course, it is also sold more expensive than the lower model. When it was first launched this TV is priced above $2500, but now when I was writing this review, its price has dropped to below $2500. But of course, its price certainly is not fixed and still could change at any time. So, what features and technologies offered by it and how is its performance?
LG SK9500 Key Specs
|Resolution||4K (2160 x 3840)|
|Size Available||65 Inch (65SK9500PUA)|
|Backlight Technology||Direct Led|
|Local Dimming technology||Yes (Full Array Local Dimming)|
|Processor||Alpha 7 Intelligent Processor|
|Color Technology||Nano Cell Color Pro with Tru Color Accuracy|
|Black Enhancement||Nano Cell Black|
|Brightness Enhancement||Ultra Luminance Pro|
|HDR Format||HDR 10, HLG, Dolby Vision, Advanced HDR|
|4K Up-scaling||Tru 4K Up-Scaler|
|Motion rate||TruMotion 240Hz|
|Native Refresh Rate Panel||120 Hz|
|Platform||WebOS 4.0 with LG’s AI ThinQ|
|Features||Full Browser, LG Content Store, Magic Mobile Connection, Google Home Compatible, Amazon Alexa Compatible, etc|
|Remote||LG Magic Remote Control|
|RF (Terrestrial Cable)||1|
|Composite In (AV)||1|
|Wi-Fi Built In||802.11 ac|
|Total Audio Output||40 Watts (Woofer : 20 watts)|
|Support Dolby Atmos||Yes|
|Price||See the price on Amazon|
Short Review of LG SK9500
As the top model of LG’s 2018 Super UHD TV lineup, LG SK9500 brings the numerous of LG’s advanced technologies. On its panel, LG SK9500 uses IPS panel with direct LED backlight and Full Array Local Dimming that will maximizes black level and contrast produced. There is also Nano Cell Color Pro technology and Tru Color Accuracy that will maximize its color reproduction. Additionally, for maximizing peak brightness produced, LG SK9500 is powered Ultra Luminance Pro Technology. Meanwhile, for maximizing its performance in handling HDR images, SK9500 is already supported by Alpha 7 Intelligence Processor, the same processor we found on LG OLED B8. Combination of these technologies makes the picture produced by SK9500 looks excellent with deeper black, more vivid color, and bright peak brightness. Additionally, also maximized for HDR experience, it also already supports most of HDR format which available in the market including HDR10, HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma), Dolby Vision, and Advanced HDR. But for this case, SK9500 doesn’t support HDR10+, a new HDR format bright by Samsung’s 2018 TV lineup.
For maximizing its performance in handling motion blur when it is playing fast moving images like video games or sports, LG SK9500 is powered by TruMotion 240 Hz based on native 120 Hz refresh rate panel. Still about blur reduction, it also has an optional BFI(Black Frame Insertion) mode at 60 Hz that very effective to make the motion looks clearer, particularly that caused by persistence. This feature is very useful particularly when it is playing 60 fps content like sports or video games. For connecting with other devices, SK9500 is also equipped with complete inputs/outputs. There are 4 HDMI ports, 3 USB ports and other inputs/outputs that certainly allow it can cover most of your other electronic devices. Meanwhile, for producing sound, LG SK9500 is equipped with 2.2 channel speaker system with built in woofer and 40 watts of total sound output. The advantage, it also already supports Dolby Atmos, allow you to enjoy Dolby Atmos Sound Experience without additional external sound system.
The highlight brought by LG’s 2018 Smart TV including SK9500 is about its smart TV platform. It may be still featuring WebOS as its smart TV platform where in this year, it comes in 4.0 version. But the interesting, this platform has been integrated with LG ThinQ AI, a home assistant app by LG. With ThinQ AI, you can control your ThinQ AI compatible device like Dish Washing, Air Conditioner, and others through your LG TV with your voice commands. Additionally, LG ThinQ AI also already supports Amazon Alexa and Google Home. This means, not only ThinQ AI compatible devices that can be controlled via this TV, but also Amazon Alexa and Google Home compatible devices.
Performance of LG SK9500
Black Level and Contrast
Since it uses IPS panel this certainly makes LG SK9500 cannot produce deep blacks. Its native contrast ratio is less than 1500:1, not strong enough to makes blacks produced looks really black. In a dark environment, blacks produced will looks more grey than really black. When its local dimming is activated, actually this can improves its contrast ratio to more than 2000:1, makes blacks produced looks deeper, but it is not still strong enough to makes blacks looks really black in a dark room. Meanwhile, when playing HDR content, its black level is also still less dark to reveals details in a dark scene, makes shadow details doesn’t look fairly well. But fortunately, once it is set in a brightly lit room, dark scene will looks far better due the impact of high contrast ratio is not as sensitive as in a dark room. Overall, as long as you don’t use it in dark room, dark scene of images displayed on its screen will look excellent, even including the best for IPS TV. Nevertheless, its performance in showing dark scene is not as excellent as what offered VA panel that usually has far higher contrast ratio.
While its performance in a dark room is not so excellent, in a bright room, its performance is far better. LG SK9500 has excellent peak brightness, no matter it is displaying SDR or HDR content. When playing SDR content, it can provide about 600 nits of peak brightness that means it is bright enough to fight the glare in most bright room. Combined to its excellent reflection handling, this certainly makes it can maintain good picture produced in most bright room. Meanwhile, when playing HDR content, LG SK9500 even can reach brighter peak brightness, close to 7000 nits. This means it is very good for HDR content. Its local dimming is very effective to brighten the small windows so looks brighter, makes highlights of HDR images can be shown excellently. For a short time, some certain small windows sizes even can be shown brighter than 1000 nits that mean it is good though after stabilized, it will dim to below 1000 nits. Additionally, its local dimming is also very helpful to make blooming less noticeable. Overall, peak brightness of SK9500 is bright enough to make HDR images looks excellent. But even so, since its peak brightness is still less than 1000 nits, this certainly make it is not able to show highlight of HDR images like the creator’s intended, that is at 1000 – 4000 nits of brightness range where HDR images are usually mastered.
LG SK9500 may not be able to produce color gamut as wide as what produced by Samsung QLED TV, but it color gamut is still very good. With Nano Cell Pro Display technology behind it, it can produce wide color gamut. Its color gamut even can cover more than 90% of DCI P3 color space that means it is great for HDR content. There are only some certain colors like greens that cannot be shown fairly saturated, but still looks accurate on its screen. Meanwhile, its color volume is decent. Since it cannot produce deep blacks, its color gamut also narrows significantly at darker colors, makes darker color cannot be shown fairly accurate. But even so, the excepting of dark colors, overall, SK9500 can show its wide color gamut at its entire brightness range. The result, most colors of HDR images can be shown fairly accurate, makes HDR images displayed on its screen looks natural with Vivid Color. Still about color performance, LG SK9500 also already supports 10 bit depth of color and can process 10 bit content fairly well. When playing HDR images, color bandings may still be visible at certain colors like red and blue, but overall, its color gradient is very smooth.
Side Viewing Angle
The use of IPS panel may make it cannot produce deep black level, but on the other hand, this makes LG SK9500 has good side viewing angle coverage. And its side viewing angle coverage may not as good as OLED TV, but this is still far better than LED TV with VA panel. As we know, on VA panel, color and black level usually will degrade started at less than 20 degrees off center and front. Meanwhile, on the panel of LG SK9500, color may still shift started at about 25 degrees off center and front, but black level can be maintained at far wider angle. The result, when viewed from the angle, the picture degradation is not as significantly as on VA panel, makes the picture still looks fairly good. With its good performance in maintain its picture quality when viewed from the side, this TV is very suitable for you who frequently watch TV with a group of your family where they usually watch TV from multiple angles.
Motion handling and 24p Playback
LG SK9500 has very fast pixel response time that is great for playing fast moving images like sports, fast games, or fast movies. The result, picture displayed on its screen looks very smooth clear with almost no motion blur visible. Following fast moving object, there is only a very short ghosting trail where most people may not notice this much. Most blurs which may visible is more due by persistence than pixel response time. Additionally, to dim its backlight, by default, SK9500 uses PWM Dimming system at 120 Hz of dimming frequency. The use of 120 Hz dimming frequency will make motion looks a bit clearer, but on the other hand, this also makes some duplication following fast moving object. Additionally, since its dimming frequency is not too high, this also makes flicker is a bit noticeable, particularly for people who sensitive to flicker. Meanwhile, to reduce blur that caused by 60 fps persistence, LG SK9500 also has an optional BFI (Black Frame Insertion) that will make backlight flicker at 60 Hz. By enabling this feature, this will makes motion looks clearer, particularly when it is playing 60 fps content like sports or video games. But at the same time, since it blinks the backlight at lower frequency, this will also makes flicker is more noticeable.
Meanwhile, when playing 24p movies, LG SK9500 also can do a great job. No matter the frame rate of the source, whether it is native 24p movies like Blu-Ray or DVD’s movies, 24p videos via 60i signal like movies from Satellite TV, 24p videos via 60p signal like movies from streaming device, or 24p videos from streaming apps like YouTube, Amazon Videos, or Netflix, the picture produced will looks very smooth and clear with judder-free. But even so, to watch movie with judder-free, you must set on the “Real Cinema” on its picture setting.
Like most middle to upper TV which available in the market, LG SK9500 is also equipped with 4 HDMI ports as its major connectivity. All of its HDMI ports already support HDCP 2.2, CEC, and HDMI 2.0 full bandwidth. But a bit unfortunate, none of them support HDMI 2.1. This means although SK9500 support HFR (High Frame Rate Content), but it cannot play HFR from HDMI ports. Additionally, it is also equipped with 3 USB ports. But unlike SJ9500 the predecessor that has USB 3.0, SK9500 doesn’t have USB 3.0 and all of their USB ports are USB 2.0. IN addition to USB and HDMI ports, there are also 1 Composite In (AV IN), Antenna In (Terrestrial), 1 Digital Audio Out (Optical), and 1 Ethernet port. It has not Component In. As their wireless connectivity, SK9500 is equipped with built-in WI-Fi and Bluetooth.
Meanwhile, LG SK9500 also has outstanding input lags in “PC” and “Game Mode”. No matter the resolution of the video source, it input lags is less than 15 ms that means it is great for any games. This means, no matter you are playing 1080p or 4K games, casual or fast paced games, it allows you to play them responsively and comfortably. Combined to its good picture quality in a bright room, excellent motion handling, and risk free from permanent burn, this certainly makes SK9500 as a great TV for games.
Smart TV Platform
Like other models of LG’s 2018 TV lineup, LG SK9500 is also featuring WebOS 4.0 as its Smart TV platform. The use Alpha 7 processor as its main processor also has a role in increasing speed and performance. Now, its performance is very fast and responsive. Once you launch the menu or app, it will open quickly without lag. Meanwhile, in term of appearance, there are not many changes offered over last year version. Group of tiles as the shortcuts of apps are still neatly arranged in a “strip bar at the bottom across the screen. A bit improvement, there is search functionally at the top right of home menu, allow you to search something easily. Additionally, there are also a lot of preinstalled apps provided. There are VoD apps like YouTube, Amazon Videos, Netflix, and others, Live TVs, Web browser, Games, and many more. It also has an app store called “LG apps store” provide tons of downloadable apps, games, contents, and more. But even so, what provided by LG apps store are not as many as what provided by Google Play Store or even Samsung’s apps Store.
The major highlight for WebOS in this year is the addition of LG’s ThinQ AI (Artificial Intelligence) platform, a smart assistant system by LG that is similar to Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home. It allows you to control your other smart devices that compatible to ThinQ AI like Air Conditioner, Refrigerator, Washing Machine, and others via your TV with your voice command. Additionally, it also already supports Amazon Alexa and Google home. This means, not only ThinQ compatible devices, but also Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home compatible devices that can be controlled with your voice command. Additionally, ThinQ AI also makes its voice navigation is more excellent. It can do not only some basic command, but also it can do some parse complex commands like “Turn the TV off after this program is over” or others.
As its controller, LG SK9500 also comes with LG’s magic remote like we found on other middle to upper models of LG TVs like OLED B8 or C8. The remote is a bit large. In addition to standard buttons like Volume Buttons, Number Buttons, and others, it has some quick access buttons to most common buttons and also two dedicated buttons to Amazon Videos and Netflix. At the center, there is combination of direction pads buttons and scroll wheel that is very powerful to be used for selecting menu or navigate deep menus. Additionally, this remote also can be act as the pointer. When you point the remote onto TV, you can move the pointer on the screen by moving the remote. Like other smart remote, it is also equipped with built-in microphone where it has excellent voice navigation. In addition to its voice navigation can be used to control TV functions, its voice command also can be used for controlling your other devices connected via ThinQ AI.
As long as you don’t use it in a dark environment, overall, LG SK9500 has excellent picture quality. Although it only has decent contrast ratio, but for IPS TV, black level produced by SK9500 can be said the best and as long as it is not used in a dark room, this should not be problem. On the other hand, SK9500 has excellent wide color gamut makes color of HDR images can be shown fairly accurate. Additionally, it also has good peak brightness, make it is well suited for most bright room. Although it cannot show highlight of HDR images brighter than 1000 nits like the intended, but overall, its HDR performance is also very good. In addition to its picture quality is very good, it also has great performance in some other aspects like excellent motion handling, outstanding input lags, and also attractive smart TV platform. The advantage as an IPS TV that offered, it has good side viewing angle, make it is as a good TV when used in a wide room with viewers watch TV from multiple angles. Overall, performance of SK9500 is good for mixed usage, whether it is for watching movies, sports, TV Show, or play games. But once again, since it cannot produce deep black, it is not suitable for a dark room or watching movies with a lot of dark scene like thriller or horror.
Should I buy this TV? As long as you don’t use it in a dark room, this TV may be a good choice for you who searching TV with good performance for mixed usage. Its wide viewing angle coverage also makes it is suitable for you who frequently watch TV with a group of your family where usually they watch TV from multiple angles. Now, the decision certainly comes back to your own preferences.
Compare to the Competitors
LG SK9500 vs SK9000
LG SK9000 is also a part of LG’s 2018 Super UHD TV lineup, one level below SK9500. With the same screen size (65SK9000PUA vs 65SK9500PUA) it is sold far cheaper than SK9500. Equally coming with IPS panel and Full Array Local Dimming, its local dimming is not as effective as SK9500 in improving contrast and black level. Additionally, its peak brightness is also not as bright as SK9500. This certainly makes picture quality produced by SK9000 is also not as excellent as SK9500, particularly when playing HDR content. Meanwhile, the excepting of contrast and peak brightness, performance of LG SK9000 is almost similar to SK9500. Sold hundreds dollar cheaper, this certainly makes it is as a good cheaper for you who have limited budget. But of course, its picture quality and HDR performance is not as good as SK9500.
LG SK9500 vs Sony X900F
Sony X900F is the top model of Sony’s 2018 4K LED TV lineup. With the same screen (XBR65X900F vs 65SK9500), it is sold hundreds dollar cheaper than SK9500. The advantage offered, it has excellent contrast ratio that makes its dark room performance is also excellent. Additionally, it also has far brighter peak brightness, particularly when playing HDR content. Meanwhile, color gamut produced by them is similar. Superior in contrast and peak brightness, this certainly makes its HDR performance is also better than SK9500. But the inferiority, its side viewing angle is poor. Additionally, its input lags is also not as low as SK95000, even at 1080p resolution, its input lag is too high. Additionally, its performance in handling motion blur, particularly its BFI performance in reducing blur is not as good as SK9500. This certainly makes SK9500 is superior when used for playing games. Their smart TV may equally attractive, but its navigation is not as simple as in WebOS. To read complete review of Sony X900F, please click here.
LG SK9500 vs Samsung Q7FN
Samsung Q7FN is the mid-model of Samsung’s 2018 QLED TV lineup. Like X900F it comes with VA panel. With the same screen (QN65Q7FN vs 65SK9500), they have similar price. The similarity between them, basically, both Samsung Q7FN and LG SK9500 equally comes with Quantum dot panel technology. The superiority offered by Q7FN, almost all major aspect of picture quality like black level, contrast, color gamut, peak brightness and others offered by Q78FN is better than SK9500, makes the picture displayed on its screen also looks better, particularly when showing HDR images. Its motion handling is also excellent and not far different to SK9500 and also flicker backlight is less noticeable due it is higher dimmer frequency dimmer. Meanwhile, although not excellent as LG SK9500, the input lags of Q7FN are also low enough to play any games so feel responsively. Coming with Tizen OS, its Smart TV platform is also very attractive, but its performance is not as responsive and fast as WebOS. But keep in mind, since its side viewing angle coverage is poor, you can enjoy excellent picture displayed on its screen only if you watch TV in its narrow viewing angle coverage. To read complete review of Samsung Q6FN, please click here.
- Good Side Viewing Angle Coverage
- Good Motion Handling
- Outstanding Input Lags
- Native Contrast Ratio is weak
- Cannot produce deep black