The 37-inch LG ($599 MSRP) is unlikely to wow you with its faux-wood paneling, but it's a 1080p LCD with great picture quality and an even better price. Like all TVs, it has its weaknesses, but you're unlikely to find a display with better color fidelity at a price this low.
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LG's aesthetic theme for this year seems to be "bringing sepia back." Which is inexplicable, since we're of the opinion that sepia should be reserved for mollusks and 18th century artists. This model in particular has a strip of faux wood-panel at the base of its screen. That's a look we thought went out with cathode-ray tubes. Yet, here we are in 2011, and a factory somewhere is still expending fuel to stamp faux-wood paneling onto brand-new LCD displays.
The stand is weird and angular, but it swivels about 35˚ in either direction, so we can't fault it too terribly. We can only guess that it, and all other aesthetic aspects of this TV, were intended ironically and that LG is marketing the for hipsters.
Boy, it would be tiresome for us to note, again, that the fancy, touch-sensitive controls are located just millimeters above a faux-wood panel. Yet there they are. So if you reach for them, you'll be leaving fingerprints right above the vague semblance of wood.
We love the remote on this and other LG televisions released this year. It has a great feel in the hand. All the buttons are just about where you'd expect, and the rubbery D-pad produces a satisfying click. A groove on the remote's underside and a ridge up top instantly guided our fingers to the volume and channel rockers. While the remote isn't universal, it can be used to control HDMI-CEC devices attached to the .
The was relatively easy to set up. In addition to the eight included screws, there was a remote, AAA batteries, cleaning cloth, manual on CD, and a piece of plastic to cover the stand hole in the case of wall-mounting. There's also another screw included for bolting the stand down through the hole behind its stem.
p. The 's black level was not great. Our eyes are very good at detecting small differences in dim blacks, but not very good at noticing differences between bright whites. Generally, any black that measures above 0.20 cd/m 2 will look a little brighter than it should.
The was great at producing bright whites, in contrast (this time literal) with its black level. The 368.15 cd/m2 it produced should be plenty bright, even in sunny rooms. Take care not to put lamps right in front of it, however, since its screen is quite reflective. More on how we test peak brightness.
Unfortunately, despite having a great white level, the suffered from a black level that was so poor that its overall contrast is lackluster. We've included a chart of comparison TVs below, so you can see how much better the other LG model and especially the Sony do in this area. However, you could certainly do worse, as the Panasonic Viera demonstrates. More on how we test contrast.
LCD screens, unlike plasmas, have little problem displaying dark blacks, even when they're surrounded by bright, white areas. The LG did especially well. Black boxes of varying size produced consistently dark results. Areas of high contrast, like a herd of zebras, won't lose contrast due to light levels washing between black and white areas on this TV. More on how we test tunnel contrast.
A companion to the tunnel contrast test, the white falloff test measures the luminance of a shrinking white area on an otherwise-black screen. LCD technology has little problem with differentiating nearby black and white areas, and the LG was no exception. It had luminance levels that were consistent, no matter how small the area. More on how we test white falloff.
On both black and white screens, we noticed a pinkish purple area to the lower left corner, and a lesser one to the right. On a black screen, not only were the top corners brighter than they ought to be, but there was a bright deformity along the bottom edge near the center. We noticed that the color shift was greater, the closer we got to the screen. Uh oh—the problem is not really uniformity, it's mostly due to the screen's poor viewing angle. The purplish color-shift of the in-plane switching panel is most prominent for flat blacks and whites. Be aware that the uniformity may not be very good if you sit close to the TV. Besides, your mom hates it when you do that. More on how we test white falloff.
Greyscale gamma was not as good as we're accustomed to expecting from an LG TV. The curve is a bit steep, flattening into a tail at the base. What this means is that light-colored greys will gradate a bit too aggressively, while dark ones may be crushed into black. The main problem will be a loss of detail in dark, shadowed areas. Fortunately, the curve is quite free of wiggles, so grey transitions should be smooth, overall. More on how we test greyscale gamma.
Color temperature is, by far, the 's weakness when it comes to color accuracy. Color accuracy tends to be LG's strong suit, but this one runs cool over more than half of the gamut. You might attempt to correct this defect by adjusting RGB gain, but without dabbling in a more granular adjustments, the whites on this display are going to appear bluish. More on how we test color temperature.
The has great RGB curves: smooth, level with each other, and almost no peaking. The brightest few blues are going to look the same, so you might lose some detail on an object dominated by bright-blue, but in general it will be unnoticeable. Most colors will exhibit a smooth transition from their brightest to darkest shades. More on how we test RGB curves.
To compare smoothness of RGB curves, we've laid some simulated TV gradients next to each other below. While gradients won't look exactly the same on this screen as they would on the actual TV, this shows how little banding the TV has in its gradients. You can also see how minor the blue peaking really is.
We were delighted by the way this TV handled motion. Many displays are too slow to handle motion of large images, so each row lags behind the last and rectangles end up with slanted sides. The had very little issue with that, but the edges were jittery and stair-like. In general, the transition was smooth and masked by motion blur.
Only in extreme black-and-white moving patterns did the display show a touch of false coloration in a small area. Since most people don't watch moving test patterns for fun, it's unlikely to come up in a noticeable way. More on how we test motion performance.
Real Cinema mode became available when the detected a 24fps source. Enabling it reduced the flicker severity of high-frequency patterns from crazy to negligible.
The subtle mosquito crawl of moving stadium seats was virtually unnoticeable on the LG . Overall, it was a superb performance for a television which must translate a 24fps signal to its native 60fps frame rate. There's not an easy way to do that, so most TVs just flicker wildly as they struggle to understand what's happening. More on how we test 3:2 pulldown and 24fps.
LG's did a great job scaling between resolutions. It produced lines that were more-or-less crisp and legible, regardless of the source resolution. It's a relief to see a TV with a processor that has clearly been designed with care. More on how we test resolution scaling.
The Just Scan feature is greyed out for 480p, which means you'll lose 4% of the screen to overscan. However, moiré patterns displayed perfectly save for a trivial blur, and fonts down to 9-point were perfectly crisp. The highest-frequency patterns had very subtle issues with pixel width.
Overscan can be disabled for 720p, making it the best input signal for resolution scaling. We saw no problems whatsoever with moiré patterns, the subtle line-width problem for very high-frequency patterns, and crisp, clear fonts down to 12-point.
A few of the moiré patterns degenerated into patches of vertical lines, and the highest-frequency patterns displayed some banding. Legibility was as good as in 720p. In short, there were minor scaling issues for 1080i, but nothing too bad.
The LG is a 1080p native-resolution screen that supports all standard NTSC formats. Additionally, it is capable of outputting an xvYCC color gamut.
A viewing angle of 23˚ is about average, or even a little better than usual for an LCD screen. However, because the panel uses in-plane switching (IPS), it is quite good at keeping its colors from shifting over a wide angle. If you are viewing an entirely black or white screen, you are likely to notice a purplish hue over a wide angle.
Directing an LED array at the screen produced a reflection of its individual lights surrounded by a halo of light and, on dark screens, an X-shaped rainbow streak. It wasn't the worst reflection we've seen on an LCD, but it wasn't great either. Unfortunately, angling the light away did little to deal fix the problem. We found it quite distracting over a scene from an action movie.
The offers several video processing modes in hopes of making your TV-watching experience more enjoyable. Some of them, like Noise Reduction with its static-reducing effect, might even succeed. Most of the modes can be turned on at a strength of low to high.
Before we run any tests, we use a spectrophotometer and calibration software to decide upon picture settings. We calibrate our televisions to adhere to Rec. 709 color standards in a dark room. For the LG , we began our calibration with Cinema mode.
All of our calibration is done in conjunction with the DisplayMate software.
The offers several video modes from which to begin your calibration. Just make sure all the settings you want to adjust are available until you get too deep into things; some settings are greyed out under different video modes or sources.
The ports on the are clustered in a shallow, plastic crater on the back, right side of the TV. They are comprised of standard options: a pair of HDMI ports, two component audio and video in, a composite A/V in, a VGA and its analog audio, digital audio out, and an RS-232C connector.
On the left side of the screen, a third HDMI port, second A/V in, USB, and a 3.5mm headphone jack round out the rest of the 's ports. We appreciate that there is a dedicated pair of both component and composite A/V ports, as these are frequently shared on other models.
Beneath, we've compiled a chart of the LG 's featured ports, as well as those on a few comparison models.
The ports are configured a bit awkwardly on the back of the TV, and although the base swivels, it doesn't do so by more than 30˚. Reaching the ports might be tricky, since they're set several inches deep from the side and possibly blocked off by a wall of component cables.
The quality of the dual 10W speakers on the LG was acceptable, but still a bit muffled compared to good quality external speakers. There is no dedicated equalizer, but it does offer controls for treble and bass. There is also a Clear Voice II option that you could experiment with, and an Infinite Surround mode which worked relatively well. On a 37-inch screen, the speakers are far enough apart that a surround sound emulator can do a reasonable job. We always recommend external speakers for a TV, but anyone short of an audio snob should be able to deal with the temporary use of these on-board speakers.
The visual elements of the menu interface are quite disparate. It opens with a grid that isn't very attractive, and in our opinion, just adds another button press. It is, however, easy to understand.
Menus beyond the main one have a more modern layout, with the categories from the grid in a column to the left. Their menu items open into the central window area and scroll down. In our opinion, this could easily serve as the main menu.
We liked the menu system, overall. It was a little bulky and visually disparate, but it served its purpose and had a couple nice features, as well. In particular, we liked that on a setting like Backlight, that ranges from 0 to 100, the speed of the scrubbing increased as we held the button down. The adjustment would otherwise have been painfully long.
LG's instruction manual leaves a lot to be desired. The main object of desire is a better instruction manual. It can't be downloaded from LG's web site, so you'd better make sure you don't misplace the CD that comes in the box with the .
Not only is it poorly translated, but it's needlessly overwhelming because it serves as a manual for over 30 different models. They aren't even all the same type of television: they're categorized in a table on the cover as LED LCD, LCD, and plasma varieties. The result is a slew of unnecessary information, and you must take extra care to make sure what you're currently reading is actually relevant to the TV you purchased. It is, however, quite comprehensive and should answer most questions.
The affords USB media playback through a port on the left side. It has a basic, albeit slightly confusing playback system. Like many television media playback interfaces, it requires your choice to view photos, music, or video on the USB device. Photo playback may be organized as a slideshow with a few options, including background music from the USB drive.
Playback of music and video is controlled by the playback buttons of the remote control. The media interface, like the TV's menu system, is a bit less than graceful. However, most options are fairly well labeled with appropriate buttons on the remote. It's a bit of a learning curve, but nothing too bad. Most commonly-used codecs are supported, but make sure your file's DRM is in the clear; otherwise, the may not allow its playback.
The is a bit costly to maintain for a 37-inch LCD. However, the cost is still nominal: If you watch for five hours daily at the recommended brightness for a dark room, 200 cd/m2, it will run you $15.95 a year.
The CCFL tubes lighting the are likely to blame for its higher-than-average power consumption. Note in the chart below the difference between powering this, the 42-inch Panasonic, and the 32-inch LG. The latter two are much cheaper, due to their energy-efficient LED lighting elements.
The main difference between these two TVs is price: the Sony KDL-32EX520 can run about $200 more than the LG , depending on your source. With motion processing that isn't nearly as good and a screen that's only 32 inches on the diagonal, sports fans are likely to prefer the larger with better motion.
The primary strength the Sony KDL-32EX520 has over the LG is its extremely high contrast. The 's peak brightness is higher than the Sony's, but its poor black level resigns it to a low overall contrast. This is surely the most problematic area of the 's otherwise-excellent picture quality. Since our vision works by contrast, though, it's a considerable problem.
The color quality of these two TVs is about comparable. Although the Sony has a better stability of color temperature than the LG, its RGB curves and color gamut are not as good. We'd call that a similar performance, overall.
The LG is the easy winner in this ring. It has great motion performance, while motion is something with which the Sony struggled. Sports watchers may favor the quite a bit.
Viewing angle and reflectance were similar between these two televisions, but the Sony had the marginal upper hand in both categories.
Connectivity was about even between the Sony and the LG. When in doubt, we tend to favor the extra HDMI port over the component video connector. However, your own results will depend on what you intend to hook up. Consult the chart below for details.
Shopping online, one can find the selling for nearly half the cost of the Panasonic TC-42E30. Those extra dollars get you a Panasonic with a larger screen, some internet connectivity, a worse contrast ratio and no wood trim.
Neither the nor the Panasonic TC-42E30 has a particularly good black level, causing contrast to suffer on both sets. The Panasonic also had a lackluster peak whiteness compared to the . Both sets use in-plane switching (IPS), which can cause some funky viewing effects. For example, the Panasonic TC-42E30 lost contrast as the vertical viewing angle increased. A similar issue affected the 's display uniformity when close to the screen.
Both sets did an excellent job at color response and accuracy tests. Both sets had barely perceptible variations in color temperature, but RGB curves for the and Panasonic TC-42E30 were both ideal.
Both the and Panasonic TC-42E30 did a good job with motion processing, with little blur, trailing, judder or stairstepping. Both sets processed film content admirably. The Panasonic had some minor issues with artifacting in high-frequency patterns regardless of video processing mode, a flaw that the did not show.
Both HDTVs had good viewing angles for LCDs. With in-plane switching (IPS), the Panasonic TC-42E30 and alike keep colors from shifting at wide horizontal angles. However, the Panasonic's plasma-worthy wide horizontal angle came at the expense of contrast at extreme vertical viewing angles. Likewise, buyers of the may have to move some furniture to get the ideal setup for ideal contrast.
While the Panasonic has one more HDMI port and one each fewer component and composite ports than the , it's the Panasonic TC-42E30's internet connectivity that's the biggest difference here. Though saddled with few applications and slow internet performance, Netflix and Pandora access alone are worth the Panasonic's otherwise limited multimedia setup.
With a larger screen size and 1080p resolution, it's amazing that the is selling online for almost the same as its 32-inch, 720p cousin, the LG 32LV2500. Unless you have a space constraint or really hate the 's oddly placed, glued-on fake wood, spend the few extra bucks and get the instead.
Hands down, the 32LV2500 beats the at black level and, by extension, contrast ratio. The 32LV2500 has a contrast level that's nearly three times that of the . Since contrast is such an important factor of human sight, the 's poor black level is a problem.
Both sets did well with color, with smooth and even RGB curves. When it came to color temperature, however, the 's whites ran cool, while the 32LV2500's whites were a little warm.
The did better than it's budget stablemate when it came to motion performance. Where moving images on the 32LV2500 included some blur, stairstepping and false coloration, the had no real issues that would be distracting to the average viewer.
With in-plane switching (IPS), it's no surprise that the offers a wider viewing angle (23˚) than the 32LV2500 (a mere 8˚). As the is 1080p versus the 32LV2500's 720p, there's no contest there, either.
The is pretty much identical to the 32LV2500 when it comes to inputs, with no internet connectivity and nearly a port-for-port matchup otherwise. The has more analog audio inputs, but you probably won't be connecting five analog audio sources to a TV anyway.
It would seem that LG's design managed to get in the way of an otherwise good TV. The 's faux-wood panel that runs along the bottom just looks dopey. Regardless, the TV has fantastic color accuracy and motion processing that is sure to please.
There is no one television to suit every user: for this model, the trade-off comes in the form of its weak black level and unimpressive contrast. Overall, though, we liked it. A TV with color this accurate is rare, especially at this price point ($599 MSRP). If all you want is a basic television with a good picture, the might be for you.
The xxLK450 series ranges from 32 to 42 inches. These three LCD televisions have good picture quality and enough ports for a basic setup.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.