When you see TVs like LG’s 37LB1DB, it really is no surprise that Korea has stolen Japan’s TV thunder (not to mention a hefty chunk of its market share). The 37LB1DB is, in a word, gorgeous. First, there’s the all-over high-gloss, jet-black finish. Then there’s the unusual chunky little base the TV perches on, which rotates smoothly on the flat foot beneath, despite its bulk. And last but not least, there’s the achingly cute way a little blue-on-black LED at the top of the base illuminates to show you which AV input you’re watching. The retro chic effect this little LED produces possibly owes some debt of gratitude to the design of LG’s KG810 mobile phones – and there’s certainly no harm in that.
Connectivity continues the 37LB1DB’s great first impressions. Two HDMIs get the HD ball rolling, backed up by the component jacks required for ‘HD Ready’ compatibility (and Xbox 360 connection). Then there’s a D-Sub PC jack, three Scarts (though only one’s RGB-enabled, sadly), the usual S-Video and composite video stalwarts, and even a digital audio output and a PCMCIA slot.
These latter two jacks are there because the 37LB1DB has a built-in digital tuner. The digital audio output enables you to pipe Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks (should Freeview ever broadcast any) to a suitable AV receiver, while the PCMCIA slot can be used for introducing conditional access cards for digital subscriptions services such as Top Up TV.
Other feature fodder of the digital tuner includes support for the 7-day Freeview electronic programme guide (EPG), including the facility to set recording events simply by selecting programmes from the EPG listings.
Other than this, probably the 37LB1DB’s only truly significant feature is its XD Engine picture processor. XD Engine is a proprietary LG system comprising six core elements: PurePalette, ContrastPRO, VistaBright, OptiGrade, CrystalVue and RealCinema. Thankfully we don’t need to get into long-winded explanations of all these six elements; it’s enough to say that they’re targeted at boosting colour range, black levels/contrast, brightness, noise level suppression, fine detail and motion.
While XD Engine does the bulk of its work behind the scenes, there are a few handy user-adjustable segments to it as well. For instance, you can adjust the set’s green tones, blue tones and fleshtones; call in ‘XD Noise Reduction’ to tidy up generally grubbiness; and call in MPEG noise reduction to reduce the potential impact of MPEG blocking interference while watching digital sources (most likely a Sky Digital or cable digital receiver).
As usual, we started our tests of the 37LB1DB with a selection of high definition feeds from Sky’s HD service. And we were really pleased with what we saw.
The set immediately ticks the HD fine detail box, doing a sterling job of rendering every last lovely pixel of, say, an episode of Later With Jools (one of the BBC HD services best-looking shows). If there’s a grain of dust on the studio floor, the LG will show it.