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First Impressions: LG 55LE8500 HDTV

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I didn’t forget to post yesterday, I was simply preoccupied with moving HDTVs around the house, reprogramming Harmony remotes and updating firmware for my new HDTV, the LG 55LE8500.

It’s easily the largest, prettiest and most advanced HDTV I own.

The Journey

But, let’s bring it back a bit and give some context as to why I bought yet another HDTV. For those who don’t know, there are actually a total of five HDTVs in this house right now. It’s been five for awhile, but one of them was the old KDS-50A2000 which I received a replacement KDL-52V5100 for. But even after the replacement, the old SXRD HDTV was still hanging around the house and served as tertiary HDTV and an ugly reminder of Sony’s shoddy quality.

I’ve always wanted to get rid of the darn screen, but people still wanted to use it and I didn’t know of a free or profitable disposal option. Fortunately this week, BestBuy’s weekly flyer reminded me of their trade-in promotion where they offered give $250 off selected 50″+ HDTVs when you trade in an HDTV. They accepted TVs from any brand, size and condition except broken screens — physically broken screens. My screen was physically fine, so I decided to pull the trigger on the trade.

I initially planned on picking up an LG 55-LE5400 since I was fed up with Sony’s HDTV quirks (remember, even my KDL52V5100 was suffering from noticeable issues). My brother also owned an LG screen and since I love the calibration options and the quality of the screen, I was leaning heavily on LG. Out of the list of eligible HDTVs on BestBuy’s website, the LG seemed to be the most affordable LED LCD HDTV (acronyms!) at $1149.99 before taxes.

When I got to the store and asked the salesperson what the eligible HDTVs were for the trade-in, I noticed another LG screen on the list. It was the LG 55-LE8500. The mythical HDTV that seemingly fell off the face of Canadian retailers.I knew BestBuy didn’t have it on their site anymore, so I was curious if there was stock. And after a brief search around the TV section, one was found sitting at the highest shelf in the store. I was hoping they wouldn’t find one so I could have gotten an additional $50 off and free shipping (BestBuy has this in-stock guarantee as well).

Oh well.

I found the HDTV I had my eye on and it wasn’t $2400; it was $1999.99 before the discount. After discounts, fees and taxes, I paid $2007 for it. Not bad considering it was $3300 in mid-2010.

The Fight

First thing we (salesperson, my dad, the neighbor who owned the truck and myself) all noticed was the immense weight of the screen. This thing is heavy. 96.6 lbs including the stand compared to the KDL-52V5100’s 76.3 lbs. The weight comes from the front glass panel which gives the entire screen a sleek look. I think the only thing that could top it is an even smaller bezel (Samsung D8000).

The obvious side effect for having a glass face is the glare which is quite noticeable even under daylight. It’s something I can live with because I can always shut the blinds.

It’s been a long time coming, but I finally have an internet capable HDTV which also means firmware updates. I was able to update my KDL-52V5100’s firmware as well, but that was via USB. This new LG had an Ethernet port which enabled YouTube and some other minor widgets along with the ability to update the firmware without USB. You’d think that’s a great feature, but it wasn’t.

I wasn’t able to tell how the download or installation process was going without staying on the firmware download screen. Once I closed that screen, I wasn’t able to bring it back up. Later, I discovered there was a “hidden” page where I could download the firmware update and throw it on a USB stick. By then, I was almost done anyway.

The Improvements Thus Far

Aside from being a larger screen, the LE8500 has some very nice black levels and color reproduction — and this is with the presets — I haven’t gone in and perform any calibration yet. Another thing I appreciate is the improved viewing angle compared to the KDL-52V5100.

But so far, I’ve only been watching Rogers HD television and haven’t games or watched and Blu-ray movies yet. So who knows? Perhaps there are more finer improvements to be seen.

Meeting Expectations Thus Far

When I was asked for an HDTV recommendation last year, I recommended this one. I was impressed with the reviews it received and the price at the time. Now that I own one? I’m still very impressed. It may not be a new fangled 3D TV, but I can live without that. All just want awesome 2D performance and so far I’m getting that.

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