LG 42LH7000 £960
28th Apr 2009 | 11:30
Super-slim full HD TV with Bluetooth. One of the most comprehensively loaded sets we've seen
LG has moved from mid-field to striker in the move towards the goal of ultra-thin, 1080p flatscreens. The 42LH7000, the latest in the South Korean company's Scarlet series, looks to combine opulent, red-accented styling with state of the art specifications, in order to seduce videophiles and design freaks at a single stroke.
This is one of the most comprehensively loaded sets we've seen. Aside from that full HD panel resolution, you'll find four HDMI jacks, plus everything else you'll need and more (including an optical digital audio output).
Pictures are knocked into shape by LG's latest proprietary processing, incorporating TruMotion 100Hz digital scanning, there's a sensor to adjust output to suit ambient lighting and Bluetooth connectivity enables you to enjoy the set's audio on a pair of wireless headphones or receive and display photos from a suitably equipped device.
Best in class
We've waxed lyrical over LG's peerless operating system several times before now, but just in case you haven't been paying attention, the bright, clear and infallibly intuitive graphical interface is a pleasure to use and will have even the most hardened Luddite installed and tweaked within minutes.
The remote control is similarly well thought out, with all the most useful buttons at your fingertips and a few handy 'hot keys' to toggle through the AV modes.
Our favourite of these is the 'Quick' menu that brings up oft-used picture and sound settings in one handy window to save you trawling through each separate submenu.
It's a bit of a shame that someone saw fit to suggest casing this otherwise admirable tool in crazy-patterned, lightly textured plastic – an aesthetic decision bewilderingly at odds with the ineffably stylish set – but there it is.
Navigation around the system is absolutely seamless, you can go as deep into the picture parameters as you dare without ever feeling daunted, and there's even a little musical jingle to greet you when you switch on.
It's becoming increasingly difficult to say anything particularly new about LCD pictures; the better sets seem to have reached a kind of plateau recently (albeit an impressive one), and it takes something genuinely special to set a TV apart from the crowd.
Usually this comes in the form of new picture processing technology, such as Philips' ever-evolving Perfect Pixel HD, Panasonic's V-real Pro or, as here, Twin XD Engine.
The results it produces, while not quite as pyrotechnically accomplished as some of its more expensive rivals are, nonetheless, solidly satisfying.
Colours are fulsomely saturated when required, yet also display a subtle naturalism that wouldn't look out of place on a plasma.
Compare the hallucinatory bubblegum tones of the alien world in Space Chimps with the dusty plains in the third, Chinese instalment of The Mummy franchise for evidence of the breadth of this set's tonal range.
The LG also benefits from deeper black levels than many of its LCD rivals, reaching down to depths that still look properly dark with all the lights off. You don't get much variation between shades, though, and a uniform inkiness can dominate at the expense of texture.
Motion is also surprisingly good: a normally challenging pan across a row of upturned faces at mission control in the CGI monkey movie slips past effortlessly, with barely a wobble or glitch.
Detail is extremely impressive, with every one of those 1,920 x 1,080 pixels being put to good use. This is true with anything of DVD quality or better, anyway: the scaling technology appears unable to do much to improve Freeview, and digital terrestrial broadcasts look as shabby and block-infested as we've learned to expect from big screens.
The audio is a curious mixture of too little and too much. With television broadcasts you're only ever a couple of notches away from a harsh, shouty racket, but the performance with movies is frustratingly muted.
Aside from this, it's the usual story of adequate fidelity, minimal base and pseudo surround sound settings that don't really work.
Anything over a grand for a set this size is verging on the pricey these days, but then, on the other hand, the 42LH7000 is a solid all-rounder that is a pleasure to use and is absolutely crammed full of features.
If you're into gadgetry, but you're not too exacting about your pictures and have a few hundred pounds to spare in the bank, then this could well be the set for you.