|LG Electronics 42LB1DR LCD HDTV|
|Home Theater Flat Panel HDTVs LCD HDTVs|
|Written by Adrienne Maxwell|
|Thursday, 01 June 2006|
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Let’s talk about that set-up menu, as it features many options to tailor the video and audio to your room and tastes. For each input, you can choose from seven picture modes: three presets for Daylight, Normal and Night Time; two user modes in which you can adjust the controls for brightness, contrast, color, sharpness and tint; and two Expert modes that are set closer to videophile standards and can’t be altered. In the preset and user modes, you can also choose a cool, medium or warm color temperature or go one step further and adjust the individual red, green and blue controls to match your exact taste. That’s a lot of options for a flat panel. The component and HDMI inputs default to the Expert 1 picture mode, a darker mode with subdued but accurate colors. The sharpness control is set rather high in this mode, creating visible edge enhancement, so I opted for a user mode instead. With test patterns from the “Video Essentials” (DVD International) and “HDTV Calibration Wizard” (Monster) DVDs as my guide, I adjusted the video parameters for both the HDMI and component video inputs. I should note that a bit of edge enhancement was still visible, even with the sharpness control set to zero. For the RF inputs, I also selected user modes and eyeballed the adjustments for contrast, brightness, etc. The TV’s onscreen menu covers a good portion of the screen; it’s translucent, but making video adjustments was still a bit of a challenge.
One feature that’s surprisingly absent is an adjustable backlight, a now-common inclusion on many LCDs that lets you alter the TV’s overall light output to improve brightness or black level. The 42LB1DR does have a basic black-level setting for the HDMI input that you can set to high, low or auto, but this really only affects brightness within the TV’s existing light output. This TV features LG’s XD Engine video processing, which allows it to automatically adjust contrast, color and noise, depending on the image. The default setting for XD is auto, and you can’t disable it if you use one of the preset picture modes. If you select a user mode, you can set it for manual and turn each individual setting (contrast, color, noise) on or off. I turned off all three settings, as I prefer to set up a TV exactly how I want it and not deal with constantly shifting parameters.
On the audio end, you can choose between six sound modes: Normal, Stadium, News, Music, Theater and a user mode that lets you alter treble and bass and turn on the SRS TruSurround XT or 3D EchoSound pseudo-surround modes. Two thin front speakers reside to the sides of the TV screen and two additional speakers rest on the back panel for the simulated surround sound. The speakers are robust enough for a smaller room, but I had to push the volume to fill my large living room. If you want to send audio, like the Dolby Digital 5.1 track in an over-the-air HDTV signal, to an external A/V receiver, an optical digital audio output is available on the back panel and LG has included a menu setting to turn off the TV’s audio system.
Television and Movies
The 42LB1DR’s image quality was fairly consistent from input to input, with some minor variances. Detail is usually the first thing to jump out at me when I look at an LCD flat panel, and the LG doesn’t disappoint in this area. The picture isn’t as razor-sharp as a 32-inch LCD, but it’s detailed enough to clearly render all the gory details in CBS’s 1080i “CSI” broadcast or the crowd faces in an ABC 720p broadcast of NBA basketball. The “Video Essentials” resolution test pattern shows that the TV can render all of the detail in DVD sources.
The second thing that usually jumps out at me – and sometimes even blinds me – is brightness. Like most LCDs, this TV has ample brightness to watch programs in a well-lit room, but it’s not excessively bright. And, like most LCDs, the 42LB1DR sacrifices some black level in the process. Blacks are somewhat gray, but the detail in blacks is good. Overall, the 42LB1DR strikes a good balance between brightness and black level that suits it for multiple viewing conditions. Darker content, like the opening battle sequence in the pilot episode of “Firefly” (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment), had solid depth in a dark room, yet was still visible in a bright one.
It’s not uncommon to see exaggerated color in an LCD, but the 42LB1DR avoids this temptation. In Chapter Three from “Kill Bill, Volume 1” (Buena Vista Home Entertainment), colors were rich without looking unnaturally vibrant. Greens, in particular, can border on cartoonish, but the outfield grass in ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” 720p broadcast was not oversaturated. With both DVD and HDTV sources, skintones looked accurate, with no red push.
The combination of good color, detail and contrast makes for a generally attractive picture through higher-end inputs like component and HDMI, and the upconversion of standard-definition TV signals is done fairly well. SD images are obviously softer, but this TV produces less upconversion artifacts than many I’ve seen. Through the RF inputs, HDTV looks very good, but the SDTV channels don’t fare as well.