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LG SM9000 vs SM9500 Review (65SM9000 vs 65SM9500)

LG SM9000 vs SM9500 Review (65SM9000 vs 65SM9500)


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LG SM9000 and LG SM9500 are part of LG’s Nano 9 Series 4K HDR TV. The LG SM9500 is the replacement of 2018’s SK9000 while the SM9000 is the replacement of SK9000. Just like most models of LGs 4K LED TV lineup, they both come with an IPS panel that offers a good viewing angle. Both have a low native contrast ratio that makes their performance in a dark room not as good. As long as they are not used in a dark room, performance is excellent.

The SM9000 comes in several screen size options, which are 55 inch (55SM9000), 65 Inch (65SM9000), 75 Inch (75SM9070), and 86 inch (86SM9070). Special for the 75 inch and 86 inch, they have a different market name due to a different level of Full Array Local Dimming compared to the 55 inch and 65 inch. This indicates the 75 inch and 86 inch have more dimming zones than the 55 inch and 65 inch. On the other hand, the SM9500 comes in one screen size only, which is a 65 inch with market name as 65SM9500. Within the same screen size (65SM9000 vs 65SM9500), the SM9000 is priced lower than the SM9500. So what are their differences and which one is better choice for you?

LG SM9000 vs SM9500 Key Specs

Technologies and Features LG SM9000 LG SM9500
Screen Sizes Available 55 inches (55SM9000), 65 inches (65SM9500), 75 inches (75SM9070), 86 inches (86SM9070) 65 inches (65SM9500)
Screen Resolution 4K (3840 x 2160) 4K (3840 x 2160)
Panel Technology IPS with NanoCell IPS with Nano Cell
Backlight Technology Slim Direct LED Slim Direct LED
Local Dimming Full Array Local Dimming, 75 inches and 86 inches: Full Array Local Dimming Pro Full Array Local Dimming Pro
Support 10 bit panel 10 bit dithering True 10 bit
Image Processor Alpha 7 Gen 2 Alpha 7 Gen 2
HDR format Support HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
HDR Technology HDR Dynamic Tone Mapping Pro HDR Dynamic Tone Mapping Pro
Contrast Enhancement Object Depth Enhancer, Ultra Luminance Pro Object Depth Enhancer, Ultra Luminance Pro
Color Enhancement Nano Color, Nano Accuracy, Billion Rich Colors, Advanced Color Enhancer Nano Color, Nano Accuracy, Billion Rich Colors, Advanced Color Enhancer
Clarity Enhancement Quad Step Noise Reduction, Frequency Based Sharpness Enhancer Quad Step Noise Reduction, Frequency Based Sharpness Enhancer
Up-Scaler Technology 4K Up-Scaler 4K Up-Scaler
Motion Enhancement TruMotion 240 TruMotion 240
Native Refresh Rate 120 Hz 120 Hz
Variable Refresh Rate Support Yes (HDMI Forum VRR) Yes (HDMI Forum VRR)
Smart TV Platform WebOS 4.5 with LG ThinQ AI WebOS 4.5 with LG ThinQ AI
Google Home Compatible Yes Yes
Amazon Alexa Compatible Yes Yes
Alexa Built-In Yes Yes
Remote LG Magic Remote LG Magic Remote
Speaker Channel 2.2 2.2
Sound Output 40 watts (20 watts Woofer) 40 watts (20 watts Woofer)
Dolby Atmos Support Yes Yes
HDMI Ports 4 4
HDMI Supports HDCP 2.2, HDMI 2.0 Full Bandwidth, HDMI 2.1 Full Bandwidth, CEC HDCP 2.2, HDMI 2.0 Full Bandwidth, HDMI 2.1 Full Bandwidth, CEC
ARC Yes (HDMI 2) Yes (HDMI 2)
eARC Support Yes Yes
USB Ports 3 (USB 2.0) Yes (HDMI 2)
Composite Input 1 1
Component Input No No
RF Input 1 1
Digital Audio Out (optical) 1 1
Price See today’s price See today’s price

Technologies and Features of LG SM9500 and the SM8600

Panel Technology

As mentioned, both the LG SM9000 and the SM9000 use an IPS panel. The main advantage of the IPS panel is it can deliver a better side viewing angle than a VA panel. On the other hand, a TV with an IPS panel usually has a poor native contrast ratio, mostly that it can not produce a deep black. If they are set up in a bright room, this might not be an issue — but once set in a dark room, the performance is not so good.  Additionally both of them use the same backlight technology, which is Direct LED backlight with Full Array Local Dimming. They do have a difference in the number of dimming zones. Nevertheless the IPS panel that is used for the SM9000 and the SM9500 is not just a standard IPS panel. LG has embedded a Nanomaterial technology called “NanoCell” on their IPS panel to deliver a Wide Color Gamut

Image Processor

For the image processor, both the LG SM9500 and the SM9000 are powered by a new image processor called the “Alpha 7 Gen 2”. It is the second generation of Alpha 7 processor first introduced in 2018 as the image processor of several models of LG’s 2018 TV lineup. Its performance may be less powerful and has fewer features than the Alpha 9 Gen 2 Processor, but it brings some improvement over the first generation of Alpha 7 Processor particularly in handling motion and the up-scaling of non-4K content to 4K resolution.  Additionally the algorithm of the Alpha 7 Gen 2 processor has been generated by AI. This allows the processor to have some AI-based features like AI Picture, AI Brightness, AI Sound, and AI sound Tuning.

Motion Technology

For maximizing its performance in handling motion, both the LG SM9000 and the SM9500 are powered by TruMotion 240 technology and they both have a native 120 Hz refresh rate panel. They both also support HDMI Forum VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) technology to maximize performance when used for gaming. Unfortunately at the moment there are not many sources that support this new format and only the Xbox one can currently support this format.

To dim their backlight, both use a PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) System with dimming frequency by 120 Hz. This dimming frequency is actually fairly high to make the backlight flicker barely noticeable for most people. But even so, this will make some duplication in motion particularly when playing 60 fps content like sports or video games.  Both the LG SM9500 and the SM900 have an optional BFI (Black Frame Insertion) mode that can be used for resolving this issue. By enabling this feature, the dimming frequency will automatically change to 60 Hz when playing 60 fps content. The result is motion that looks crisper and smoother. On the other hand, this will make the brightness decrease and the backlight’s flicker is more noticeable. When playing 120 fps content, the dimming frequency will automatically change to 120 Hz. To enable the BFI mode, you must set to “On” for the “Motion Pro” in the “Tru Motion” menu.

Since they both have a native 120 Hz refresh rate panel, both are able to interpolate lower frame rate content up to 120 Hz. This feature is helpful to reduce stutter, particularly whe playing low frame rate content like 24p movies. By enabling motion interpolation, this will have a side effect known as the “Soap Opera Effect” that may bother some people.

Inputs

For their connectivity, the LG SM9500 and the SM9000 have 4 HDMI ports. Their HDMI portsth support most of the latest HDMI formats such as HDMI 2.0, HDMI 2.1 Full Bandwidth, HDCP 2.2, CEC, and ARC (HDMI2). And they both also support eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel) that allow their HDMI ports to pass-through a Dolby Atmos via TrueHD and DTS:X via DTS-HD MA signal. Both the LG SM9500 and the SM9000 support most resolutions. With 60 fps content, they both support 1080p, 1080p @ 4:4:4, 1440p, 4K, and 4K @4:4:4, while with 120 fps, they support 1080p and 1440p. According to the LG ad, since they both already support HDMI 2.1, both the SM9000 and the SM9500 actually support 4K @ 120 Hz content or HFR (High Frame Rate), but at this moment this doesn’t work. This might need a firmware update or an HDMI 2.1 source.

In addition to HDMI ports, both have 3 USB ports. Unfortunately all are USB 2.0 and none of them have USB 3.0. They both also have 1 AV input. This means that if you have old devices with AV output as the major connectivity, you can still connect to these TVs without an additional adapter.  Both series have RF IN (Tuner), 1 Digital Audio Out (optical), and 1 Ethernet port. And for wireless connectivity, both are equipped with built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Smart TV Platform

Just like other models of LG’s TV lineup, for their smart TV platform the LG SM9500 and the SM9000 run WebOS 4.5 integrated with LG ThinQ AI. As we’ve seen, the WebOS is smart, intuitive, smooth, fast, and an easy to use interface. Compared to WebOS 4.0, there is a minor change offered by the WebOS 4.5  version. It now has a new feature called “Home Dashboard”. This feature is similar to Samsung’s Smart Thing system and allows the TV to interact with many loT devices, mobile devices, and inputs and collate them into a single menu. This allows you to conveniently monitor and control connected devices in your smart home.

Furthermore the WebOS 4.5 has a lot of preinstalled apps. Most of the popular apps are here such as YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Videos, Live TV, Games, Web Browser, and many more. It also has an app store called “LG’s apps store” which provides a huge selection of apps. WebOS 4.5 also works with Amazon Alexa and Google Home. With Alexa Built-in, you don’t need to buy additional Alexa devices like smart speakers or others if you want to use this app.  Both of these TVs have a built-in media player that supports most video. Not only that, the “Recommendation Feature” of WebOS 4.5 has been integrated with AI. This feature will monitor and analyze your viewing habits based on the time of day and content. Then it will make content recommendations to give you more viewing options.

Remote

For the main controller, both the LG SM9000 and the SM9500 come with a smart remote called “LG Magic Remote”. This remote is similar to the remote of the last years models like the SK9000, SK8500, OLED B8, and others. This remote is a bit large and has a lot of buttons. In addition to the standard buttons like “Number” buttons, “Power” button, “Volume” button, it also has some common buttons that provide quick access to most functions. It also has two dedicated buttons for Amazon Video and Netflix, allowing you to launch these apps without entering the menu. To support the voice navigation, this remote is equipped with a built-in microphone and has a “microphone button”. It has many features for the voice control. In the center of the remote, in addition to the “Directional” button, there is also a clickable “scroll wheel”. This allows the remote to act as a virtual pointer, making navigation far easier. Not only that, this remote also act as a universal remote, allowing it to be used to control other devices connected to the TV. Not only HDMI-CEC supported devices but also non HDMI-CEC devices can be controlled by this remote.

The Differences between LG SM9500 and SM9000

 The Number of Dimming Zones

The main difference between the LG SM9000 and the SM9500 is the number of dimming zones for their local dimming. As we saw on the comparison table above, for the 55 inch (55SM9500) and 65 inch model (65SM9000), the SM9000 comes with Full Array Local Dimming while the SM9500 comes with Full Array Local Dimming Pro. This indicates that the Pro version has more dimming zones than the basic version. With more dimming zones, the light precision will be more accurate. This will have an impact on performance for handling blooming. When showing small bright objects while the rest is dark, blooming visible around the bright object will look smaller on the screen of the SM9500 than the SM9000.

Bit Depth of Panel

The LG SM9500 supports a real 10 bit panel, while the SM9000 supports a 10 bit panel with dithering. This means the panel of the SM9500 can produce more than a billion shades of color without dithering. The SM9000 has a true 8 bit panel and can produce a billion shades of color required by HDR content with a dithering technique. As expected with a true 10 bit panel the SM9500 can produce a smoother color gradient than the SM9000.

>> Please click here to see today’s price for the LG SM9000 <<

>> Please click here to see today’s price for the LG SM9500 <<

LG SM9000 vs SM9500 Performance

Contrast and Black Level

As we have mentioned, with the IPS panel the native contrast ratio of the LG SM9000 and the S9500 is not as good. Their native contrast ratio is only around 1000:1, making the deepest black level produced to be only around 0.1 nits.  This certainly is not dark enough to make black look really black when these TVs are set in a dark room. Black produced even tends to look grey in a dark room. The superiority of the SM9500 to the SM9000 is with its local dimming performance. Even though the SM9000 has full array local dimming, its local dimming is not able to boost native contrast ratio. The result (regardless of the local dimming if the SM9000 is activated or not) is that the contrast ratio produced is not much different. But once it is set in a bright room, the impact of the native contrast ratio is not a major factor as its picture quality is far better.

On the other hand, the local dimming of the SM9500 is very effective to boost its native contrast ratio significantly, up to around 2400:1. Even though its still not as deep as what’s produced by a VA TV, the black produced by the SM9500 is far deeper than the SM9000 and becomes acceptable for HDR content.  The highest black level recommended for displaying HDR images fully is 0.05 nits. With its contrast ratio, the deepest black level produced by the SM9500 is around 0.04 nits. This is lower than the recommended 0.05 which means it is good. So although its performance in a dark room is not as good as VA TVs, its performance is not too bad and is better than the SM9000.

Winner: SM9500

SDR Peak Brightness

With SDR content, the LG SM9000 has good peak brightness. With real content, it can get around 350 nits of peak brightness, which is bright enough to fight the glare in most bright rooms. Unlike other TVs with local dimming where the small highlights can be shown brighter, on the screen of the SM9000, a small bright window (25 % of screen is bright) precisely is aggressively dimmed to around 150 nits. This means that a small highlight in a dark scene will look too dim. The SDR peak brightness of the LG SM9500 is far brighter than the SM9000. With real content, it can hit around 700 nits, making it easily overcome the glare in a bright room. Just like the SM9000, its peak brightness is also dimmed on a 2% window, but not as aggressively as the SM9000 and its still brighter than the 500 nits. This means a small highlight in a dark scene can still show as fairly bright on th screen. Combined with their good reflection handling, the picture looks well in most bright rooms. But since the SM9500 has a much brighter peak brightness, it’s able to overcome the glare in a bright room better than the SM9000.

The results above are achieved by setting the “Picture Mode” to “ISF Expert (Dark room)”, the “Backlight” to “100”, the “LED Local Dimming” to “Medium”, and the “Color Temperature” to “Warm 2”. These different settings will get a brighter peak brightness, but this will reduce the image accuracy.

Winner: SM9500

HDR Peak Brightness

With HDR Content, the LG SM9000 can get a brighter picture than with SDR content. With real content, it can get brighter than 400 nits. However, just like with SDR content, on a 2% window (2% of screen is bright while the rest is bright), its peak brightness is significantly dimmed to around 150 nits. When showing a small bright object (2% window), it actually can get brighter than 450 nits or even brighter than 900 nits on a 10% window, but its peak brightness is quickly dimmed after it has stabilized. Peak brightness reached by the SM9000 is actually bright enough to make HDR images look fairly bright in a bright room. But it is still far from the recommended 1000 nits for the minimum peak brightness required for showing HDR images excellently.

With SDR content, the SM9500 can get brighter than the SM9000. With real content, it can hit around 800 nits which means it’s excellent. Actually on a 2% window, it can get around 1100 nits and around 1500 nits on a 10% window. Unfortunately, its peak brightness is quickly dimmed at around 450 nits on a 2% window and around 650 nits on a 10 % window once stabilized. Even though its peak brightness is still less than 1000 nits that means it can not show HDR images as intended, but its peak brightness is fairly bright to make HDR images look very bright in a bright room.

All of the results above are achieved by setting the “Picture Mode” to “Movie”, the “Backlight” to “100”, the “LED Local Dimming” to “Medium”, and the “Color Temperature” to “Warm 2”. The different settings may get brighter peak brightness, but this will reduce the image accuracy.

Winner: SM9500

Color Reproduction

Both the LG SM9000 and the SM9500 have excellent color gamut and their color gamut is very similar. The combination of Nano Cell display technology and an IPS panel make them produce a wide color gamut. Their color gamut can cover more than 94% of DCI P3 color space. This means it is great for HDR content mastered in DCI P3 like HDR 10. Additionally their color coverage in Rec.2020 is also more than 70%, wide enough to show colors of HDR images mastered in Rec.2020 like Dolby Vision fairly accurate. They both have similar color volume and the color volume is decent. Since they are not able to produce real black, dark colors can not be shown very well.  Like most of LED TVs, these both can not show bright blues as bright as the other colors. Regardless of their flaws, the color reproduction is great and colors of HDR images can be shown accurately on their screen.

Both also have excellent color gradient. When showing content with 10 depth color like HDR images, their color gradients look very smooth. With regular HDR content, there might be some little imperfection in certain colors, but for most people this should not be noticeable. Compared among them, the color gradient of the LG SM9500 is a bit better. This might be since it has a true 10 bit panel while the SM9000 only has an 8 bit panel with dithering. To produce a billion shades of color, the SM9000 uses a dithering technique. Even though it doesn’t have a real 10 bit panel, the color gradient produced by the LG SM9000 is even better than some TVs from other manufacturers with a real 10 bit panel.

Winner: SM9500

Side Viewing Angle

The use of an IPS panel might make both the LG SM9500 and the SM9000 to have low native contrast ratio, but on the other hand, this makes them both have a good side viewing angle coverage. When watched from the side, the picture displayed on these screens look accurate. Starting at around 30 degrees off center and front, the brightness might decrease, but the black level produced still looks consistent up to 70 degrees off center and front. They both are able to maintain color accuracy at much wider angle than a VA TV.  With very good side viewing angle coverage, both are very suitable when used in a wide room with wide seating or if yo often watch TV with your family.

Winner: Draw

Motion

Both the LG SM9000 and the SM9500 have a similar pixel response time and their pixel response time is excellent, which is around 13 ms. This is great for fast moving images like sports and fast movies. The result when showing fast sports, fast games, or other content with fast moving objects, the picture produced looks very smooth and clear. There might be a faint trail following a fast moving object, but for most people this should not be noticeable. The blur that might be visible is more caused by backlight flicker, particularly when playing 60 fps content like sports or video games. Both have an optional BFI (Black Frame Insertion) mode that is very helpful to make motion look crisper by reducing blur caused by persistence or backlight flicker. So when enabling the BFI mode, it might make backlight flicker more noticeable.

They both can do a great job when handling 24p judder. Regardless of the source of content, both the SM9000 and the SM9500 can show them judder-free. Whether you are playing native 24p videos like Blu-Ray or DVD movies, 24p videos via 60i signal like movies from satellite TV, 60p signal like movies from streaming device, or 24p videos from streaming apps like Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Videos, and others; you can enjoy them clearly and smoothly with judder-free. And to remove the judder without adding a soap opera effect, you just need to enable the “Real Cinema” in the “Picture Option Setting”.

Winner: Draw

Input Lag

The LG SM9000 and the SM9500 have outstanding low input lag in “PC” and “Game” mode. The input lag is nearly the same. With 60 fps content and regardless the resolution, their input lag is around 14 ms. This means that regardless of the resolution of the source is 1080p, 1080p @ 4:4:4, 1440p, 4K, 4K @4:4:4, 4K with HDR, their input lag are almost similar. This certainly makes them very responsive when used for playing 60 fps games, whether it is casual or fast paced games.With 120 fps, the input lag is even more excellent. At both 1080p and 1440p resolutions, the input lag is around 7 ms. This certainly is great for any 120 fps game. The SM9000 and the SM9500 actually support 4K resolution @ 120 Hz or HVR (High Frame Rate) content. But we have not measured their input lag because there is no device which already supports HDMI 2.1.

The SM9000 and the SM9500 also support Auto Low Latency Mode, known as ‘Instant Game Response’. This allows the TV to automatically switch to game mode once connected to supported devices. This means that once you connect this TV with a supported game console, the TV will automatically switch to “Game Mode”, ensuring you get the lowest input lag when playing games.

Winner: Draw

>> Please click here to see today’s price for the LG SM9000 <<

>> Please click here to see today’s price for the LG SM9500 <<

Summary

Performance LG SM9000 LG SM9500
Picture Quality (3.8/5) (3.9/5)
HDR (3.5/5) (3.7/5)
Motion Handling (4.1/5) (4.1/5)
Inputs (4.9/5) (4.9/5)
Sound Quality (3.5/5) (3.5/5)
Smart TV (4.1/5) (4.1/5)

Conclusion

There are not many differences in technology and features offered by the LG SM9500 and the SM9000. The main difference between them is the number of dimming zones for their local dimming. Nevertheless, this difference has a significant impact on the quality of the picture produced. With a higher number of dimming zones, the SM9500 can deliver a deeper black and brighter peak brightness than the SM9000. This has an impact on performance when used in a dark room or a very bright room, or for HDR Performance. This means that when set in a dark room or a very bright room or when playing HDR content, the SM9500 is much better than the SM9000. The difference in bit depth of panel has an impact on the color gradient produced. With the Tru 10 bit panel, the SM9500 can deliver a smoother color gradient than the SM9000 which has 8 bit panel dithering.

Overall with each of these series, you get excellent performance for most aspects of picture quality, a good viewing angle, excellent performance in handling motion, outstandingly low input lag, and a great Smart TV platform, as both the LG SM9000 and the SM9500 are great TVs for mixed uses. Regardless of how you use them, whether for watching movies, sports, TV shows, HDR, playing games, or Smart TV experience; their performance is great for their class. But with one caveat, both do not perform well when used in a dark room. If you often watch movies in a dark room, these both might not be a good choice and you might want to consider a TV with a VA panel like the Sony X950G or the Samsung Q7FN.

So which is a better choice for you? As mentioned above, with the same screen size (65SM9000 and 65SM9500), the SM9000 is priced lower than the SM9500. But its performance is less powerful, particularly on peak brightness and black level produced. So the decision is yours according to your budget and your own preferences. If you have extra budget available, the SM9500 certainly is better. Unfortunately the SM9500 only comes in a 65 inch size. So if you need a TV with an other screen size, you might be disappointed. On the other hand if your budget is limited then the SM9000 is also a good TV for its price range.  It even gives you many options for screen sizes.

>> Please click here to see today’s price for the LG SM9000 <<

>> Please click here to see today’s price for the LG SM9500 <<

LG SM9000 vs SM9500 Review (65SM9000 vs 65SM9500)

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