Boasting a good line-up of smart apps, 3D support, LED edge dimming and a stunning design, the 55LM660T ticks all the boxes of what you should be looking for in a high-end LED set.
So just how well does this 55-inch model, which can be bought online for around £1,600, stack up against its rivals?
User interface and EPG
The user interface on the 55LM660T is one of the slickest you'll find on any TV. It looks fantastic and LG has gone to great lengths to make the various icons and menus look as colourful and inviting as possible.
The interface is built around the Home Dashboard, which can be called up by hitting the dedicated Home button on the remote. This is split into two sections. Across the bottom of the screen is a banner of icons to give you quick access to various features, such as the settings screen, electronic programme guide (EPG) and media streaming, as well as shortcuts for commonly used smart apps.
The top of the screen shows four panels. The first is used for accessing the 'Premium' smart apps, such as BBC iPlayer. The second has links to videos on LG's own 3D video on-demand service. The third gives you access to LG's SmartWorld app store. And finally, the fourth screen shows videos that are being shared to the TV from network devices such as PC DLNA servers.
For all its graphical finesse, I do feel the interface would have been easier to use if LG had made it more consistent. There are just too many instances where you can access features in multiple ways -- something that makes the interface confusing for first-time users. For example, you can stream videos to the TV using the panel at the top of the Home Dashboard; or by selecting your DLNA server from the input list; or by choosing the videos or SmartShare from the banners on the Home Dashboard; or via the MediaLink app.
This is not an isolated example. But once you've spent some time using it, the menu system becomes clearer.
Another slight issue is that while the EPG is neatly laid out and fast to use, it doesn't overlay on top of the TV feed and there's no thumbnail window. When you call it up, you lose all video and audio from the programme you're watching.
Digital media and Internet features
On many of its higher-end models in 2011, LG forced you to use the Plex Media Streaming Server software on your PC if you wanted to stream your own content to the TV. While the 55LM660T has a Plex client called MediaLink, which will display poster art and summaries of movies, it also works with standard DLNA servers.
LG also seems to have improved format support. I had no problems getting it to play a number of HD and standard-definition MKV, DivX and Xvid files from the Twonky DLNA server built into my Iomega NAS drive.
Of course, many people will be more interested in the range of smart apps on board. The 55LM660T has a lot to offer in this area. LG has split apps into two groups. 'Premium' apps are now found in their own menu on the Home Dashboard, while other apps are located in the LG SmartWorld app store.
The range of premium apps is quite good, with iPlayer, Netflix, Acetracks, Facebook and Twitter all supported. LG says that Lovefilm should be available soon, although there's no date for this yet, so it's best to check whether the TV supports it before you buy if you're a Lovefilm subscriber. There's a lot of rubbish in LG SmartWorld but there are a few neat apps that are worth a download. Overall, the line-up of available apps is among the best on any TV at present.
Design and connections
If you haven't seen one of LG's TVs with its new Cinema Screen design, then you're likely to find the 55LM660T quite a sight to behold. It really is amazing what LG has achieved with the bezel, which has almost been eliminated entirely. When the TV is off, it looks as if it doesn't actually have a bezel -- only a thin metallic strip running around the outer edge of the display.
When you fire up the TV you'll see that there's actually a 1cm gap between the edge of the screen and the metal trim. It's a stunning design. Add in a gorgeous stand that makes the TV look like it's floating and you've got a set that's one of the most beautiful on the market.
On the smaller 42-inch model, I found that the HDMI ports were mounted a little too close to the edge, but on this larger unit, they're inset a good deal deeper.
As with most of the 55-inch models I see these days, this one has four HDMI sockets and there are three USB ports for connecting up memory keys and hard drives. On the downward-facing panel on the rear, you'll find an Ethernet socket. As the TV has Wi-Fi built in, you probably won't need to use it unless you suffer from poor wireless reception in your home.
The rear panel also houses a VGA input and an optical digital audio output, as well as mini jack plugs for the component and composite break-out cables.
As with the other high-end models in LG's current TV line-up, the 55LM660T comes with two remote controls -- the standard zapper, which has a sensible button layout and is comfortable to hold, and the Nintendo Wii-style motion-sensing controller.
The motion remote acts like a computer mouse, controlling an on-screen cursor when waved around in the air. I found it quite odd to use at first as it's distracting having a cursor pop up on screen when you grab the remote. But it's quite easy to control and it makes entering text or selecting menu options faster than using the standard remote.
LG has gone out of its way to improve the sound quality of its 2012 models and the 55LM660T is no different. The bottom of the chassis has been extended out towards the rear to accommodate bigger speaker drivers.
The results speak for themselves as this set actually has pretty good bass response, which helps to give more weight and punch to its audio. The soundstage is nice and wide too and the mid-range doesn't sound as crowded as some slimline LED models, which in turn makes dialogue clean and clear.
2D picture quality
The first thing you notice when you turn on the 55LM660T is just how much LG has managed to improve the black levels of this set over the majority of its 2011 range. Once you've flicked to one of the better picture modes -- such as Cinema or ISF -- you'll find the TV really delivers convincingly deep blacks.
It also suffers less from backlight pooling than last year's TVs -- especially once you've adjusted the backlight down. There is still some pooling and misting evident in very dark scenes and this was slightly worse than on the 42-inch model I reviewed recently. But on the whole, it's less intrusive than on older models.
Its colours look richer and more subtle too, managing to wholly avoid the plasticky look on skin tones that affected some of LG's previous sets. In fact, the range and tonality of the colours is a real strong point and it helps to make high-definition movies on Blu-ray discs exceptionally engaging.
Viewing angles are pretty wide. If you're forced to sit on a chair at an extreme angle to the TV, you'll find that colours and contrasts don't shift much. The panel also handles motion well.
As with all LED screens, if you leave the motion processing options turned off, it does suffer from blur. But switched on, even at their minimal settings, its handling of motion is decent by LED standards. Strangely, it didn't seem to be quite as clean as the smaller 42-inch model I reviewed recently though.
There are a couple of other caveats. Upscaling of standard-definition shows and movies could be better. There are times when they look slightly noisier than I've seen on competitors' models. Another slight issue is that when it's working with very dimly lit scenes, it can struggle to reproduce finer shadow detail, leaving these kinds of scenes looking slightly flat and one-dimensional.
3D picture quality
While most other manufacturers are using active 3D technology, LG is still championing the passive 3D system. With the passive system, the polarising filter in front of the screen sends every second line to your eye. It means that each eye only receives half the horizontal resolution of the Full HD image. In reality, it looks more like two-thirds resolution because of the way our brains interpret the two images.
In larger screen sizes, the missing lines can be more obvious but LG has done a good job of masking this here. If you sit too close to the TV, you can still see the line structure. But from a normal viewing distance, it's hardly noticeable and 3D images remain quite sharp.
Because passive 3D glasses don't have to do any shuttering (as active specs do), they're cheap and light and more comfortable to wear. In fact, you can buy extra glasses for around £2 per pair. That makes the passive system much more attractive for larger families or people who want to watch the footy in 3D with loads of mates.
I also found that the lack of flicker made them less fatiguing than active 3D specs to wear. They don't have as great a dimming effect as active specs either, so colours and shadow detail remain very strong. There's almost no crosstalk (or image ghosting), although the 3D effect does break up if you view the TV from a vertical angle of more than around 15 degrees. So it's best not to mount it on an excessively low TV cabinet. Overall though, this TV is a very impressive 3D performer.
The LG 55LM660T is a seriously attractive TV, not just because of its sumptuous design, but also for its strong picture quality and massive range of features. There are a few flaws -- standard-definition upscaling could be better and very dark scenes can look a little hollow. But on the whole, I think the strengths far outweigh any weaknesses.
That said, Sony's 55HX853 offers slightly better picture quality for not much extra outlay. It's an active 3D set though, which may not be as appealing for families watching together, and LG's design is prettier.