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The same aggressive approach to detail also serves the 37LB1DB well with Xbox 360 games and HD DVD movies played through the new Xbox360 HD DVD drive, both of which look exceptionally life like and, for want of a better description, ‘truly HD’.
Another string to this LG’s bow is its colour response. For starters, colours are presented with plenty of the lovable vibrancy that LCD has made its trademark, being driven off the screen with almost visceral intensity at times. But unlike some fellow LCD wannabes, this level of colour aggression is not achieved at the expense of a consistently natural and believable colour tone. Even notoriously tricky to show skin tones like those in the Mines of Moria in The Fellowship of the Ring are reproduced with aplomb.
Other HD highlights include sharp but never over-stressed edges, some reasonably crisp and smear-free motion, and black levels which, while not exactly the deepest around, are at least profound enough to give all but the very darkest scenes a good sense of dynamism and solidity.
Overall, the 37LB1DB’s HD antics all strike me as being well beyond the call of duty for a 37in flat TV selling for south of a grand.
So it’s a real shame that the set’s standard definition pictures are so weak by comparison. Particularly upsetting is the amount of noise present in standard definition pictures. Whether it’s grain from an analogue broadcast or the blocking noise caused by a digital receiver’s MPEG decoding process, something in the LG’s picture make up tends to bring it to the fore.
LG has, of course, provided the XD NR and MPEG NR options specifically to deal with the sort of problems we’re describing. But neither is totally successful in achieving its ends, and both cause the image to look too over-processed and soft for comfort.
It also seems to us that the 37LB1DB loses some of its natural touch with colours during standard def viewing, and succumbs to noticeably more motion smearing.
The unassuming speakers tucked along the left and right edges of the 37LB1DB turn out to be slightly more powerful than they look. A tendency for vocals to be overwhelmed during action scenes and a slight lack of bass extension means they’re no match for the efforts of true audio stars like Panasonic’s LX600 range or anything from Loewe, but they get the job done with plenty of treble detail and without harshness or distortion.
If it were up to us, every last TV programme broadcast would be in high definition, and every home would have a Blu-ray/HD DVD player and/or an Xbox 360. But sadly it’s not up to us, and the world’s got a long way to go yet before standard definition is a thing of the past. So while we admire the LG 37LB1DB’s ultra-affordable high definition talents (and stunning design) immensely, its troubles with standard definition currently make it impossible for us to give it an unreserved recommendation.