A John Lewis TV? ‘What madness is this?’ we thought when we first heard that the department store had started to make 4K TVs.
But despite a couple of John Lewis logos, this TV is ‘powered by LG’, making it an LG product in all but name.
It’s the same remote control. It’s the same operating system. Even the physical design is very LG, with a sort of bow-shaped stand that widens towards the back. And in case you missed all that, the LG logo at the back is a reminder of this TV’s lineage. There are three sizes: 40in, 49in and 55in. Prices begin at £700.
We’re not entirely sure the reasons for this department store collaboration, but if you can get a 55in Ultra HD TV for a very reasonable £1200, then it’s no bad thing. Especially when it’s this good.
When it comes to smart TV, LG is into its second year with the intuitive WebOS interface. We raved about it when we first saw it, and it is now better than ever.
LG has done away with the smart hubs, where you’d stare at a static grid of icons until your app loaded. WebOS now multitasks, letting you carry on watching a Blu-ray while flicking through apps in a handy pop-up bar.
The latest additions give slicker access to settings – the cherry on top of the icing on the best smart operating system available.
We stream an episode of Daredevil on Netflix and the JL9100 makes a strong argument for 4K. The picture is detailed, cooking up all manner of texture and serving it up on a sharply drawn platter.
Bold colours make for a lively performance, one that’s striking enough to catch your attention across a crowded showroom floor. It’s not especially subtle, though. While the colours pop with ease, they’re not always entirely natural. The priority here is brightness and impact over subtlety and realism.
Compare the John Lewis with the best in class TVs and you'll see shading handled with greater nuance than it is here, and the JL has a weaker sense of picture depth.
Motion is handled well, although the default setting makes the picture appear overly processed. Set de-judder to minimal for a smoother more natural look.
We move down to Full HD with Blu-ray, and it’s a similar experience. The presentation hits you in the eyeballs, but the JL9100 proves to be a fine upscaler, with Guardians of the Galaxy looking crisp and clear.
It does, though, struggle with contrast, as we discover early on when we try to calibrate the set using our trusty THX Optimizer disc. The blacks are not as jet black as we’d like, nor the whites as brilliant.
It’s fine when taken in isolation, but a comparison with our favourite TVs shows us the sort of dynamism this money can get you. The JL9100 picture is still good – it’s just that others deliver pictures that are truly exceptional.
The audio performance is good for a flat screen TV. It manages to deliver a strong, weighty sound with no bright edges.
Voices could be more expressive, but they are clear and don’t sound hollow. Watching TV or Blu-ray, we never feel the need for a soundbar.
The John Lewis/LG partnership is a success. It loses out to the Samsung in terms of outright picture quality, but you get a lot for your money.
If you’re after a big 4K TV that performs well and is lovely to use, we’d recommend a trip to John Lewis.
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