January is traditionally bargain time in the TV world, and this appears true with knobs on at the still recession-plagued start of 2010. For hot on the heels of a cheap-as-chips Sony TV last week, here we’ve got our hands on a 42in full HD LCD TV from LG, the 42LH3000, that can be yours for around £500. So what’s the catch?!
Seemingly nothing, if the 42LH3000’s exterior is anything to go by. For starters, the glass-like finish looks and feels anything but cheap. But also the bold minimalist bezel design together with a tasteful curve along the bottom edge and strikingly large blue/red power light work together to create a really elegant addition to your living room.
We’re starting to get accustomed to finding LG pushing the envelope of what sort of features we hope to see at low price points. But actually, the 42LH3000 is pretty low on interesting bits and bobs.
When it comes to connections, for instance, the 42LH3000 only has three HDMIs rather than the four we now look for as more or less standard on big-screen TVs - even cheap ones.
Even more disappointing given LG’s usual enthusiasm for the multimedia world is the fact that while the 42LH3000 has a USB input, this is purely for service use. In other words, you can’t use it for playing photo, video, or music files stored on a USB device directly through to the TV’s screen.
The 42LH3000’s on-paper specification is a mixture of the good and the ‘meh’. On the meh side, the contrast ratio (for what it’s worth) is quoted at an uninspiring 50,000:1 - and that’s only achieved, of course, via a dynamic contrast system that dims the brightness during dark scenes to make black colours look more convincing.
Also, the set’s significant picture processing is pretty much restricted to LG’s solid but unspectacular XD Engine which, in keeping with the similar systems of many rival brands, just works in a fairly routine fashion on improving a wide variety of picture elements, including contrast, colour and motion.
I guess it’s also worth mentioning LG’s 24p Real Cinema routine for bolstering 1080p/24 Blu-ray playback. But in reality this doesn’t do anything you wouldn’t expect to find on the majority of other LCD TVs worth their salt these days. There are certainly no 100Hz or 200Hz systems on hand to tackle LCD’s traditional problems with motion blur. But then this is fair enough, really, on such a massively cheap TV.