|LG Electronics 42LB1DR LCD HDTV|
|Home Theater Flat Panel HDTVs LCD HDTVs|
|Written by Adrienne Maxwell|
|Thursday, 01 June 2006|
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Certain performance issues, such as viewing angle, screen uniformity and motion blur, are common to LCD HDTVs. To address the viewing-angle issue, LG uses the new Super In-Plane Switching LCD technology in the 2006 LCDs. This is the second Super IPS LCD I’ve looked at, and it has the same interesting dichotomy. The technology does create a much wider viewing angle with normal to brightly lit scenes; however, with darker scenes, the picture loses saturation even 45 degrees off-axis, and parts of the screen look purple at that angle. I could also see a bit of light spill around the screen’s edges, where the LCD’s backlight makes itself known.
Motion blur is evident during faster-moving scenes. In Chapter Seven of the “HDTV Calibration Wizard” DVD, a white cue ball rolls quickly across a pool table. With this TV, the ball’s shape is more oblong than round, as a white blur trails behind the ball. Likewise, in my 720p NBA demo, the detail that allowed me to make out the faces in the background vanished whenever the camera panned across the arena.
I like my digital displays to look as un-digital as possible; I don’t want to see pixilation or shimmering in solid colors and grays. This often occurs because a TV doesn’t have the dynamic range to smoothly render every step from white to black. The 42LB1DR’s image isn’t as noisy as some LCDs I’ve reviewed, but it doesn’t render deeper colors and grays as cleanly as I’d like. In Chapter 10 of “Ladder 49” (Buena Vista Home Entertainment), our hero Jack moves through a dark, smoky room as he tries to rescue a young girl. The smoke hangs a layer of gray over the entire image. With this TV, some areas within the smoke looked more like digital pixels than actual smoke. The same was true with the solid red seat in Chapter Eight of “Kill Bill.” I found that the image was slightly smoother through the component video input than through HDMI, and turning on the XD Noise feature helps a little. HDTV signals through the RF inputs had even less noise.
Lastly, there’s the small matter of deinterlacing. Through the HDMI input, the 42LB1DR did a fine job of deinterlacing a 1080i signal from my Sony DVP-NS75H DVD player, picking up the 3:2 sequence in the “Video Essentials” Snell & Wilcox test and cleanly rendering the flyover of the Coliseum in Chapter 12 of “Gladiator.” I can’t say the same for the component video input; when displaying a 480i image from my Onkyo DV-CP802 player, the TV did a very poor job deinterlacing the “Gladiator” scene, creating a ton of jaggies and stair-stepping artifacts. This is ironic because, of the two inputs, the component input is the one with a setting to turn on 3:2 detection with 480i content, but the setting doesn’t appear to do anything. If you choose to use the component video inputs for your DVD watching, you will definitely need a good progressive-scan DVD player.
Despite a few shortcomings in the performance arena, the 42LB1DR has a lot going for it. It renders a generally good picture, the unit itself is attractively styled and well built, it has plenty of inputs to accommodate current and future sources, it’s easy to set up and use, and it has the necessary internal tuners to make the most of the DVR.
Remember how I said that DVRs always come at a cost? Well, in this case, that cost is built into the price of the TV. The MSRP for the 42LB1DR is $3,400. That’s several hundred dollars more than other big-name LCD HDTVs in the 40- to 42-inch range, and it’s about $1,000 more than plasma HDTVs of the same size. The money you’ll save in DVR monthly fees or equipment upgrades may balance out the cost over the life of the TV and there are certainly aesthetic and connection benefits to having an internal DVR. Whether or not that convenience is worth the extra money is ultimately up to you.