LG 49SM8600PLA Review: Exploring the NanoCell 4K HDR Smart TV


This year has cemented the way we see the world somewhat. Mainly through a TV screen as we have been told, for the most part, to stay indoors! When you can’t go out and experience it, the way the world is projected through the screen becomes all the more important. You want detail, vibrancy, authenticity. You want to see and feel every little thing on the screen, right? Most importantly, you want to be able to use this screen as a conduit, through which you can access all the very best that modern technology has to offer. And that is why we are bringing you an all-encompassing review of the LG 49SM8600PLA, exploring every facet of this NanoCell 4K HDR Smart TV.

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Gone are the days when the television had one task. It is now our home-entertainment system. A place where we can play games, educate ourselves, browse the web, catch up with friends, and experience those big cinematic moments. And binge every episode of your favourite tv show, of course! Our review of LG’s 49 inch NanoCell television will discuss the finer points of this new technology, how it compares with LG’s OLED, and pit it against Samsung’s QLED technology. We will look at all features, how it handles in terms of cinematic, sports and gaming experience, and hit you with our road-tested opinions. You will come to learn if this is the right option for you.

Yes, the TV has become our window into the world, and worlds we could never possibly hope to explore. Which, sadly, is increasingly becoming the place right outside our front door. So, while the pandemic rages, snuggle down on the sofa and join us as we review the LG 49SM8600PLA model. Does it have the features that will keep you living vicariously ’til its safe to breathe each-others’ air again?

Photo by Mollie Sivaram


What is NanoCell Technology?

The nano-cells are so-called as they measure around 1 nanometre in diameter. Not only do these cells purify the colours, but they absorb light. This gives the overall look and feel of the images a fresh bright quality. Samsung’s Quantum Dot technology works in much the same way.

The SM8600 range is the entry level variety in regards to NanoCell technology. The 49SM8600 has an edge-lit backlighting system, where rows of LED’s placed at either side of the set beam into the centre of the screen to mix with the liquid crystals inside. This design aims to boost the vibrancy of colours, giving them a true-to-life feel. Sadly, this model does not have the ‘direct full array backlighting’ which gives the advantage of a full screen of LEDS. Only the larger-sized SM900 range and above has this capacity.

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It is the NanoCell technology that keeps colours and contrast vibrant and true-to-life, even when at a wide viewing angle. This 49 inch LG TV has an impeccably wide viewing angle of 178 degrees, which benefits that cinematic experience. You can watch with the whole family in a wide seating arrangement and still see those vibrant colours and life-like images.

Photo by Seventyfourimages


Is NanoCell better than QLED? What is the difference?

Samsungs QLED is directly pitted against LG’s NanoCell range. both ranges work similarly, in that you only get the full range of features the higher up the range and price points you go.

This is assisted by the IPS panel. This model does not come with ‘Full Array Local Dimming’, said to give the contrasting dark and black colours a fuller effect. Unfortunately this is just another feature saved for higher models in the SM900 range and above.

This is where LG’s OLED TV models differ, and could be something to consider when choosing your next Smart TV. Whilst the OLED screens lack NanoCell technology, all pixels are self-lit rather than being back lit. So, when you see black on the screen, those are in fact pixels that have been ‘shut-off’. This has the benefit of giving deeper truer blacks than the LG SM8600 range can provide.

This is a minor detail, and fairly insignificant when paired with the other features of the SM8600 range. The NanoCell technology, as we have learned, both absorb bad light and boost the vibrancy of on-screen colour with a wide colour gamut that will help bring the action direct into your home. The input lag is also fantastic for an entry-level model such as this. Gaming mode is impeccable at a low input lag of 15milliseconds (ms), whilst the standard mode has an input lag 86ms. This helps to boost picture quality when paired with that NanoCell technology, and a hose of other features. So, let’s have a look at some of those, and how it handles in day-to-day use.

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LG 49SM8600PLA Features Review

You can have all the bells and whistles you want, but if your TV doesn’t work well in daily use, then what is the point, right? Its important to have smooth handling, intuitive motion and all your favourite apps and shows stored in one quick-access point. You don’t want to be kept waiting. Who does?

One trick LG has up their sleeve is the second generation a7 processing chip, with AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology. LG utilises intensive algorithms, helping its processing chip to constantly learn and evolve, bringing you intuitive access and optimum quality imaging with every frame. It actively analyses and makes subtle changes in real time. This works really well, with crisp sharp images even in darker scenes.

The LG Magic Remote

This AI technology also aids the magic remote in performing verbal and touch commands. The magic remote is fairly intuitive, allowing for point and click navigation and entering text with ease. You can also use voice control to browse and select.

Browsing the WebOS Smart Platform is simply, and quick to get used to. The home dashboard allows you to access all connectivity options (and we will come to the extensive range shortly. From here you can also access a whole host of apps and features already included. Apps like Amazon Prime and Netflix already installed, and the latter even has its own remote-control button for quick access.

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If you use Google assistant or Amazon Alexa, these are also compatible. All with the help of the a7 AI chip! And you can browse the LG content store for anything else you might want to install: fun and educational games, radio and tv stations, you name it! There are many other functions which come in handy. Browse the web, upload/download and save your personal files such as music, photos and even documents right onto your TV!

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NanoCell Pixels
Photo by Arthur Mazi on Unsplash


Motion Pro & Audio

Another great feature in this series is Motion Pro. This technology is similar to the TruMotion feature available in other televisions, and functions as a picture-quality boost. It does this by inserting extra black frames between those already existing, which smoothes out the on-screen action to reduce blurring and create a more life-like feel. This works well, though in certain fast-paced sequences can give a distracting flicker. Some users also don’t enjoy this feature as they feel it can give scenes a darker look overall. It is, however, possible to turn this feature on and off for different usage.

The LG 49SM8600PLA also features Dolby Vision & Dolby Atmos, aiming to boost that ultimate cinematic experience. These speakers are somewhat lacking in base, so it’s grab those deep reverberating notes that give you that thrill. Overall however, there isn’t much to complain about with sound quality. As a complete unit dialogue is crisp whilst additional sounds and music have acceptable depth and richness for daily use. If you are someone who is looking for that cinematic sound experience, it is best to opt for an additional external speakers, a sound bar or surround-sound system to go with the superior picture of the SM8600 range.

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LG 49SM8600PLA Review: Aesthetics, Connectivity & Energy

The look and feel of the set is also important when weighing options. You want something that looks sleek and fits in with its surroundings. the LG SM8600 has been designed with this in mind. Sleek in black and with a minimalist curved, on which it measures 71cm x 109.6cm x 63.6cm (HxWxD). Off the stand, the set measures 64cm x 109.6cm x 63.6cm. This be easily mounted to the wall with the standard VESA wall mounting holes, if space in your home is at a premium.

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LG have been awarded an A+ Class energy rating for this series of screens, which is very good indeed. And LG in return have rewarded us by gifting the 49SM8600PLA with a host of connectivity options. This is fantastic as it gives the ability to connect and switch between many of your devices at once. Perfect for the gamers amongst you! Or for setting up that epic home-cinema system.

Both Bluetooth and Wifi capability comes as standard with Optical digital audio out, RF in, LAN, and line and headphone outs. But there are also four HDMI ports, two to the side and two back of the set, and three USB ports with 4K high frame rate!

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Speaking of 4K, now we have looked at the 360 specification of the LG 49SM8600PLA in this review, lets look at what this term really means. And if this LG TV is can live up to its 4K and SUHD title.


Photo by Jan Bottinger on Unsplash


Is the LG NanoCell TV Really 4K?

4K and S/UHD TVs that have been tentatively flooding the market of late. But what do these terms really mean? Here comes the science!

LG have marketed this model as being both 4K and Super Ultra High Definition (SUHD), a name first coined by Samsung, and which sounds like it was named by a child trying to make his new TV sound better. Many companies will also advertise their models as Ultra High Definition (UHD).

The standard definition of 4K is any television that is widescreen, and is capable of emitting 3840 horizontal, and 2160 vertical lines of pixels at least. This is also known as UHD-1, so Ultra High Definition 1. The standard resolution of many TVs is 1280 horizontal lines by 720 vertical lines (1280x720px), and the slightly better HD resolution of 1920x1080px. These are often known by just the number of vertical lines, so 720p and 1080p. This is something you might have noticed in the television specs you have been browsing.

This being said, a 4K television should really support a screen resolution of 7680×4320px. This is also known as UHD-2, and what 4K should really be termed as. Alas, no commercial televisions and Smart TVs currently support this, so while advances in this field of technology loom, the terms 4K and SUHD are being ‘bandied about’ a bit.

So, if we are being technical, the LG 49SM8600PLA in this review is not 4K. This leads us to another question.


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Does the LG 49SM8600 Really Have SUHD Capability?

You might have noticed above that 4K and SUHD are basically the same thing. So, why have LG stated that it is 4K AND SUHD?

Well, the short answer would be to draw you in. With so many televisions on the market, the more features you throw at the unwitting buyer, the more we are drawn in. Especially when it’s difficult to visit a local store and talking to an expert nowadays.

LG are not really doing anything that other brands are not doing, and combining NanoCell technology with high screen resolution works wonders for overall image quality. Fast paced sequences—whether that be film, sports or gaming—are smooth with beautifully rendered colours on this LG model.

The fact that it isn’t technically 4K shouldn’t bother you too much. Whilst new models catch up with the technology, televisions like this LG 49SM8600 are very good at what they do. Namely, bringing you the look and feel of a 4K experience within a max resolution of 3840x2160px. And with a refresh rate of 100-120Hz as standard with this model, this means you are effectively seeing a minimum of 100 frames per second at any one time. This, plus the NanoCell technology and IPS panel are apt to make every viewing experience rich and rewarding.

Photo by Leungchopan


Reviewing the LG 49SM8600PLA: is it up to scratch?

Since the dawn of the ‘Smart TV’, LG have pretty much been there at the forefront of innovation, alongside many other reputable names of course. They have stayed the course on technologies such a OLED, where other companies abandoned ship in this venture. And to their credit, The OLED series of televisions are a great option if you are on a tighter budget.

But where OLED sits, LG’s new series of NanoCell televisions are outstripping its older brother. Whilst the 49SM8600 is the entry-level option, the edge-lit backlighting screen works well in combination with the liquid crystals within the IPS screen panel. The purifying light-action of the NanoCell technology boosts the colouration of each pixel, bringing you the finest rendering of its wide colour gamut.

The a7 second generation chip works well to bring you a consistently enhanced overall viewing experience. Also, with an impressively low input lag for both gaming and standard display, and a host of picture-stabilising features, this model will put you right into the action. The handy magic remote allows you to move around the LG control centre with ease, featuring point and click motion and voice controls. Typing on a TV has never been so easy and hassle-free!

All in all, LG have brought a very impressive set of features to the 49 inch NanoCell model, and at a very reasonable price. If you don’t believe us take a look for yourself. LG have a great range of these NanoCell models, get in there and get a piece of the Ultra High Definition action today!


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