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The is an attractive TV, on the whole, all smooth lines and beveled edges. The glossy black finish is highly reflective, which may bother some people, and not only for its near-magical predilection for picking up fingerprints. There's the additional distraction of a light on the lower right side that blinks every time you push a button on the remote. We tried to disable it, but to no avail.

Front Tour Image
Back Tour Image
Sides Tour Image

The has a low, flat, base made from the same glossy material as the bezel. It feels plenty study when you screw it in, so there's little chance of it tipping over. The base also allows the TV panel to swivel back and forth about 20 degrees in either direction.

Stand Photo

The base allows the TV panel to swivel

The has a series of controls that run along the lower right edge of the bezel. Rather than buttons, these are touch-sensitive areas. Sure, they look sleek, but there's no haptic feedback when you push and they leave fingerprints everywhere.

Controls Photo

These touch sensitive controls are discreet, but leave fingerprints, unlike traditional buttons

The ships with two remote controls, a more traditional type of remote and the new Magic Motion remote. The former is nothing special, but well designed for what it is. The buttons are well-positioned and made of a soft, rubbery material that makes it easy to use. It also offers a backlight, which is really great if you find yourself groping around in a dark room.

The Magic Motion remote is quite different. It functions like a pointer. When you aim at the screen, a little icon appears and tracks your motion. Unlike a Nintendo Wii controller, when you point off-screen, the cursor does not fly off the edge. Rather, it stops at the edge of the screen, even if your hand continues to move past that point. As a result, you're constantly recalibrating the cursor as you wave it around. There's a certain novelty to it, but the overall interface is too slow to make this your primary remote.

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Remote Control Photo

Two remotes means twice the control of your entertainment empire.

The ships with the stand and necessary screws, the standard remote control and batteries, the Magic Motion remote, an instruction manual, and assorted documentation. There's also an adapter for the component and composite AV inputs (the TV also has inputs for component and composite AV inputs with standard RCA-type sockets).

The did not perform exceedingly well in our black level test, nor do most LG televisions we've reviewed the least few years. Their strength has not been their contrast ratio, but rather their color performance. As you can see in the chart below, all three TVs we pulled in for comparison did significantly better. More on how we test black level.

Black Level Chart

The has an extremely bright screen. It outshone all the TVs we have in our little comparison pool here and will easily compete with the ambient light from a sunny room. More on how we test peak brightness.

Peak Brightness Chart

The contrast ratio of the is a respectable 1140:1, thanks to the extremely bright whites. The poor black levels hurt this score considerably, though.

Note that the has an LED backlighting that allows for local dimming. In essence, the LEDs are arranged in zones and the brightness of each zone can be controlled according to the content on the screen. Ideally, this means that the mouth of a black cave will remain deep black, while the surrounding snowy hills of the Arctic will be as bright as the screen can produce.

Unfortunately, there do not appear to be enough zones on the to create the proper effect. On a dark screen, the smallest bit of white content (text, for instance) sends the backlight in that zone skyrocketing. It's distracting and there's no way to disable it. More on how we test contrast.

Contrast Chart

The tunnel contrast test measures whether the large amounts of black on the screen have a different luminance than small amounts of black on the screen. The had no problems in this regard. More on how we test tunnel contrast.

Tunnel Contrast Chart

The has no problem displaying a perfectly even peak brightness, no matter how much or how little white content is on the screen. More on how we test white falloff.

White Falloff Chart

On an all-white screen, you'll see just the slightest yellowing in the corners and edges of the screen. On an all-black screen, we noticed a some flashlighting in the corners. Our biggest problem was the uneven nature of the local dimming, which we discuss above in the Contrast Ratio section. More on how we test white falloff.

The greyscale gamma test measures how well a TV transitions from black to white within the greyscale. Overall, the 's performance is good. Look at the chart below. First we're examining the smoothness of the line. It's a great, smooth line that indicates the TV will produce smooth transitions with no banding. Then we're looking at the slope of the line. An ideal slope is somewhere between 2.1 and 2.2. The produced a slope of 2.58, which is a bit steep. Expect that the TV will miss some of the finer gradations (though you might not even notice they're missing because the line is so smooth). More on how we test greyscale gamma.

Greyscale Gamma Chart

The has a near-perfect color temperature consistency. As you can see in the chart below, it wavers just a little warm, then a little cool, then warm again, but the changes are so small that your eyes will never see them. More on how we test color temperature.

Color Temperature Chart

The produces smooth color curves, as you can see in the chart below. The red, green, and blue channels move in unison from the darkest to the brightest signals. There's just a little hiccup at the upper-right edge of the red channel (which indicates the brightest reds), where the line goes horizontal. We call that peaking, the point at which the TV can't distinguish any more details in the highlights after a certain point. More on how we test RGB curves.

RGB Curves Chart

The strips below are digital recreations of the RGB color curve data, compared to three similar TVs as well as an ideal response curve.

The was a strong performer in our motion tests. We saw few artifacts and the objects were relatively smooth. Now, this all comes with a caveat. In order to get the "smoothest" performance, we had to enable the TruMotion feature in the menu. What this feature does is to insert additional frames in between the original frames from the source video. Most of the time, the TV does a pretty good job figuring out what those frames should look like. You can also scale up the "aggression" of the smoothness and judder reduction.

For sports and any content shot on video, the TruMotion generally helps. There's a lot less color trailing and judder. For film-based content, though, the picture looks quite bizarre. Film (and film-like video) is meant to have a certain blur. When it doesn't, it looks overly-sharp. In summary, TruMotion can be great, but be sure to experiment. It's a "sometimes food." More on how we test motion performance.

The had no problems displaying native 24fps content. To bet the best performance, locate the Real Cinema setting in the menu and make sure it's enabled. More on how we test 3:2 pulldown and 24fps.

The has a native 1080p (1920 x 1080) resolution, but much of the content you watch will be of a lower resolution. It's up to the TV's internal processing to upscale that data to fit the screen. Overall, it's quite good at this job. More on how we test resolution scaling.

480p

With 480p content, there was a 1% overscan loss on all sides.

720p

With 720p content, there was no overscan loss, but extremely high contrast / high frequency patterns could result in some discoloration.

The has a native 1080p display, but can handle all standard NTSC content.

The produced a decent viewing angle, for an LCD, though it still falls well short of what an average plasma TV can provide. Our tests showed that the TV lost a significant amount of contrast after 38 degrees from center on either side (making for a total viewing angle of 76 degrees).

Viewing Angle Chart

The has a fairly reflective screen. LG is clearly making attempts to refract the light, but it's not working. When hit with a strong ambient light, you'll see rainbow patterns going off in four directions. That's the attempt at refraction. But you also see a huge cloud of diffuse light, precisely the sort of glare that kills contrast ratio. If you're watching something bright, like a ball game, you may never notice. But movies and other content that has a lot of shadows are going to be affected. Try moving the TV screen or the light if it's really bothering you.

The has a number of video processing features, but we recommend that you disable most or all of them. They don't improve the picture quality, necessarily, they just modify it. Much to our chagrin, though, we noticed that certain processing features, like local dimming, cannot be disabled. In fact, it's not even listed in the menu.

The is easy to calibrate for peak color performance, provided you follow our recommendations in the table below. Anything not listed below, which includes most of the video processing features, should be disabled.

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DisplayMate_Logo.jpg

All of our calibration is done in conjunction with the DisplayMate software.

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The offers a number of video modes that beginning users a simple, one-touch way to make picture adjustments. If you're interested in the perfect picture, make the changes we recommend above.

The comes ready to connect to a multitude of devices, both old and new.  There are four HDMI ports for modern AV devices like your DVD player or gaming system.  There are also two USB ports for mass storage devices, one of which supports connecting to an external hard drive allowing you to play that terabyte of “legally” acquired songs and movies right on your TV. Both USB ports support USB mass storage devices like thumb drives.

We congratulate the for not minimizing the amount of analog ports. There are two component and two composite connections in the back. One of each uses the traditional RCA-type sockets and one of each uses a 1/8th-inch socket. LG includes adapters for the latter.

Connectivity Tour Image 1

There are outputs for both analog audio and digital audio, which allows you to connect to both old and new home theater sound systems.

Connectivity Tour Image 2

You get more than just the standard HDTV ports with the .  Around back you will find an LAN port, an RS-232C socket and a place to plug in your wireless control system for home theater universality.  Also, included in the box is a thumb-drive-sized device that gives the the ability to connect to a Wi-Fi network in your home. Normally, TV manufacturers charge extra for this little USB WiFi device, so consider it a $100 bonus with your purchase.

You will find all of the connections on the left side of the , arranged in an L-shape. This allows the engineers to keep the display skinny by positioning many of the ports parallel to the screen. At the same time, some of the ports on the bottom part of the “L” can be difficult, especially when connecting the VGA cable and the optical audio out down there. The stand swivels enough to allow easy access to the back for times of rearrangement.

The audio quality of the 's built-in speakers is surprisingly decent, at least by the low standards of TV speakers. The bass response is certainly not astounding, but there's far more clarity than the muffled garbage we've seen in so many televisions. There are plenty of options to tweak the performance: five preset modes, treble and bass controls, and a surround sound emulator that works decently (though it's no replacement for a real 5.1 or 7.1 channel system).

The new LG menu system, found only on the and a few other series that offer streaming content, is truly excellent. As you can see in the picture below, they've taken a novel approach. When you hit the Menu button now, you arrive at a sort of "mission control." The live video feed (via HDMI, composite AV, etc.) appears in the upper left corner. The rest of the screen is a menu of all the other types of media the TV has access to: premium content providers, LG Apps, local media like USB memory sticks, and a full web browser.

Menu Main Photo

The home screen of the menu is a really a launch pad to the entire sphere of multimedia options that LG offers

As you can see in the next picture, the does have traditional menus, too. Once you locate the picture quality settings, the live picture fills the screen again and the menu becomes a transparent overlay. Change a setting like backlight, and the graphics bar gets even smaller so you can watch how your changes affect picture quality.

Overall, we really like the approach that LG has taken here. It treats the TV as an entertainment platform rather than simply a device. Samsung has taken a similar tack, perhaps with a slightly more elegant and efficacious interface.

Menu 2 Photo

The picture quality menus are a bit more traditional

The instruction manual certainly covers all the features of the TV, but it can be difficult to narrow down exactly which TV you mean. Likely as a cost-cutting measure, LG chose to produce just one instruction manual to cover a huge list of models, ranging from LEDs to LCDs to plasmas. As a result, the manual is littered with asterisks indicating that such-and-such a feature may only be available in such-and-such a series.

Instruction Manual Photo

In the first screen shot below, which is the home page of the menu, you can see both the prominence that they've given multimedia content and how they've chosen to split it up. The has a healthy array of streaming content options, split into two distinct categories. There's a "premium" section and an Apps section.

Internet Features 1 Photo

The home screen

The premium content is just that – the stuff you probably want. You'll find Netflix, Vudu, Facebook, YouTube and several more content providers and apps already pre-loaded. This page is customizable, as well, so you can download apps and bump them to the first page of the menu. The app store itself is definitely in a fledgling state, and we don't envy developers who have to design for iOS, Android, Microsoft's mobile platform, then continue on to the Samsung TV app platform, LG TV app platform, etc.

Internet Features 2 Photo

The premium content

There's also a built-in browser, but the navigation is so slow and awkward with the remote control that it's hardly worth using. You could use a phone or laptop several magnitudes faster.

The has two USB ports that can connect to USB mass storage devices for playback of photos, videos, and music. The interface is simple. Just plug it in and the TV will ask you which media type you want to play. There are options to create playlists of songs and video, as well as slideshows for photos.

Local Media Playback 1 Photo

Options for customizing a slideshow

The TV also allows you to create custom video and audio performance tweaks for each media type.

Local Media Playback 2 Photo

Music playback isn't quite iTunes, but it's functional

The does a great job with power efficiency, requiring only a minimal draw compared to similarly sized TVs of just a few years ago. This is one of the chief benefits of using LED backlighting rather than older CCFL bulbs. Plasmas require much more power than either of these technologies.

As you can see in the chart below, the should only cost you approximately $13.97 per year in electricity.

Power Consumption Chart

For about two hundred bucks, the Samsung LN46D550 offers four more inches of screen, one less nifty remote, and different performance tradeoffs. If you're looking for a TV that gets better contrast and black levels than the , you may want to consider the Samsung LN46D550. Otherwise, the LG is a more complete entertainment package.

The Samsung has a deeper black level, allowing it to pass the in contrast ratio. Despite the fact that the has the higher peak brightness, really anything above 200cd/m2 is just gravy, so the Samsung shouldn't disappoint there either.

Contrast Chart

The managed to display a lower level of color temperature error, not even approaching what could be perceptible to the human eye. Though it's splitting hairs, you may notice a sharp cooling towards the very darkest end of signal intensity in the Samsung's picture.

While the Samsung handles motion at an acceptable level, the does an outstanding job of rendering moving objects, giving it the clear advantage here.

The just crushes the Samsung here, as its viewing angle is more than double the angle of the fellow Korean-made LN46D550.

Both sets are extremely similar in terms of connectivity. They both have comparable video and audio input options and internet connectivity, but the Samsung requires a separate purchase for WiFi. Really, you can't go wrong with either set here.

While you're sacrificing two inches from screen size if you choose the Sony KDL-40EX520 over the , you will pick up a much better contrast performance. Consequently there are big pros and cons to weigh before deciding how much you want to shell out for the bigger screen size and viewing angle of the . Still, the difference in price could sway some buyers to spring for the Sony over the LG. We loved the LG's color performance and its approach to streaming content is far more sensible and user-friendly than Sony. On the other hand, Sony offers more streaming content choices.

Though the has the higher peak brightness, the Sony trounced the LG here, recording a much lower black level and a respectably bright screen, netting it a much wider contrast ratio.

Contrast Chart

The doesn't blow the Sony away in terms of color accuracy, but it does a good job of competing well. The LG does not have any color temperature error perceptible to the human eye, but the Sony has a better RGB curve response.

Hands-down the has a better motion performance, as the Sony can't handle it all that well.

The has a wider viewing angle, but not by a huge margin.

Both the and the KDL-40EX520 are extremely similar in the options they provide. Still, if you want more analog audio out ports or if you don't care so much about having more component input ports, the KDL-40EX520 is worth a second look.

For about 100 dollars less, you can pick up the 50-inch Panasonic plasma TV. You will notice certain advantages and disadvantages inherent to the differing screen technologies, but nothing to make one TV clearly better than the other. You will have to decide for yourself what you like more in a TV before purchase. Note that the Panasonic S30 is definitely entry-level in terms of Panasonic's plasma line of TVs, whereas the 42LV5500 is pretty high-up in the chain of LG's LCD televisions. Know what you're getting for your money.

Plasmas typically have incredibly low black levels, and the TC-P50S30 is no different. While this helps its contrast ratio, the Panasonic also suffers from the plasma screen's typical low peak brightness. This won't be such a big issue if you don't watch TV in a brightly-lit room, but be mindful of the fact that your picture may look a bit washed-out in daylight.

Contrast Chart

A clear win for the , the Panasonic falls flat in color accuracy. Not only does it have an unimpressive RGB curve score, but it also displays a noticeable amount of cooling throughout the range of signal intensity.

Both TVs have incredible motion scores, and you really can't go wrong with either here.

Here is another advantage inherent to the plasma design: viewing angle. The Panasonic has a viewing angle that absolutely dwarfs that of the LCD screened comparison models.

The Panasonic doesn't offer as much in the way of connectivity options here, as it offers one less HDMI port than the , and no analog audio output for home systems. For casual viewing this isn't such a huge deal, but to cinephiles, this could be an issue. Though both sets offer internet connectivity, the has built-in WiFi, and the Panasonic requires a separate purchase.

The ($1099 MSRP) is a strong television in many regards, but we definitely prodded to find some weak points. First the good news. Color performance doesn't get much better than this. It will deliver exactly the colors that the movie and TV producers wanted you to see (provided you follow our handy calibration recommendations). Secondly, the multimedia options are excellent. LG did a great job creating a simple, easy to use platform that takes your TV beyond the living room and onto the interwebs for a myriad of streaming content and apps. So far, only the top-end Samsung TVs have matched them in this regard.

Now for the bad news. The has a weak black level, like so many LGs we've reviewed. As a result, the contrast ratio is weak, especially when compared to similarly priced Sony and Samsungs. We can live with that, as the color performance is so damn good. Others may disagree.

The LG LV5500 series is pretty well equipped with special features like local dimming and a fancy magic wand remote control (in additional to a traditional remote control). Unfortunately, we really disliked how the local dimming was handled (in a word, sloppily) and there's no option to disable it. The remote is fun but you'll probably stop using it after the first few weeks.

Overall, the may have its faults, but we heartily recommend it for the cinephiles.

The LG LV5500 series is the top-tier LED-backlit LCD series that does not offer 3D display. As a result, you're getting all the features and bonuses that LG has to offer. Most "bonuses" like this are of dubious value. For instance, local dimming is great, in theory, but we didn't like the way it was implemented here. There's also the Magic Motion wand remote control, which is fun but gimmicky. The core performance, though, is quite solid.

There are three models in this series, a 42-inch, 47-inch, and 55-inch.

Meet the tester

David Kender

David Kender

Editor in Chief

@davekender

David Kender oversees content at Reviewed as the Editor in Chief. He served as managing editor and editor in chief of Reviewed's ancestor, CamcorderInfo.com, helping to grow the company from a tiny staff to one of the most influential online review resources. In his time at Reviewed, David has helped to launch over 100 product categories and written too many articles to count.

See all of David Kender's reviews

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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.

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