Third in line within LG's growing family of ultra high-definition (UHD) TVs, the LA9650 series is also the most affordable so far. Available in 55- and 65-inch screen sizes, they're retailing in the US for between US$1,000 and US$1,500 less than their higher-end LA9700 counterparts, making UHD technology more accessible to the masses. But what features do you lose compared with the LA9700?
The LA9650 is still pretty sleek, sporting an ultra-slim bezel and a matching thin side profile. However, the LA9700's motorized sound bar has been replaced by fixed speakers below the screen. But with LG using a similar front-facing design, you can expect better sound imaging compared with most TVs featuring bottom-firing speakers.
Other major features trickled down from the LA9700 include an In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel, 1,000Hz Motion Clear Index (MCI) technology and local dimming. IPS displays boast a very wide viewing angle, while 1,000Hz MCI enhances motion reproduction through a native 100Hz refresh rate. Local dimming, on the other hand, can deepen black levels.
Connectivity options are unchanged, too. To provide screen mirroring, the LA9650 supports Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL), Intel's Wireless Display (WiDi) and Miracast. Moreover, Mircast screen mirroring can be activated by simply positioning a NFC-ready mobile device over a bundled LG "Tag On" tag. A second screen function is accessible this way as well.
Besides the permanently fixed speakers, LG has incorporated other cost-cutting measures. For a start, the LA9650 uses an LED-edgelit panel instead of the backlit version found in the LA9700. Instead of a 4.1-channel and 50W speakers, the LA9650 comes with a less powerful 2.1-channel and 34W variant, though both models sport an integrated subwoofer.
More importantly, the LA9650 lacks an onboard camera. While the TV will ship with a USB camera in Singapore, this is not confirmed for all markets. If a camera is not included, you will not be able to use motion control to perform tasks like adjust the speaker volume and change TV channels. It is also unlikely that this model will be upgradable to the latest HDMI 2.0 standard to accept 4K signals at 60fps.
For those sitting on the fence for UHD TVs due to budget concerns, the latest LG LA9650 offers a good balance of affordability and features. With an underlying LED-edgelit panel, it probably won't perform as well as the pricier LA9700, but this is expected for the cost savings.
Speaking of which, pricing for the LA9650 will only be announced closer to launch by end-October for Singapore. It is going for US$3,500 (55 inches) and US$5,000 (65 inches) in the US, but we expect prices to be higher. Availability for other Asian markets is still pending confirmation.