Sometimes I come across features in the AV world that I love to bits, but which for some reason or other don't seem to catch on with you, the Great British public. One such feature is the idea of digital hard disc recorders built into TVs.
When I saw the LG 42LT75 last December, the first TV with built-in Freeview Playback (the name given to Freeview-certified HDD recording systems), I really thought it was going to just be the first in a long line of hit TVs carrying the same functionality. But apparently the LT75 models didn't sell as well as expected, and since last December only Humax and, very recently, JVC have dared to dip their toes into the same TV PVR waters.
I for one, though, am pleased to say that LG hasn't given up on its Freeview Playback - now known as Freeview+ - TVs just yet. For in our test room today sits the 42PG6900: a new LG 42in TV with Freeview+ recording. What's more, just to add a little extra spice to proceedings, the 42PG6900 uses plasma technology rather than the LCD technology used by the other Freeview recording TVs we've seen so far. So it could open up Freeview+ TV functionality to a whole new audience of AV fan who prefer plasma to LCD.
The 42PG6900 could also open up TV/PVR combi functionality to a new style-centric audience. For it's a typically stylish effort from LG, combining a lovely ‘one-level' front panel and a neatly minimalistic, angular, high-gloss immediate bezel with an elegant understrip that boasts a subtle shade of blue. Yes, blue.
Dragging my attention from its attractive fascia to the 42PG6900's rear with a little help from its rotating stand, I find a solid rather than impressive set of connections. Highlights include three v1.3 HDMI jacks, a component video input, a D-Sub PC port, and a digital audio output. It's a slight shame there's no multimedia input such as a USB port or SD card slot, but then given how cheap the 42PG6900 is considering its size and functionality level, I'm happy to let its lack of multimedia interest slide.
For similar reasons I guess I can see my way to not missing a fourth HDMI too much, especially as the built-in PVR capabilities remove the need for one of the most common HDMI-based external sources.
The 42PG6900's inner specification, though, has one or two potential weaknesses that might prove harder to forgive. For instance, its claimed contrast ratio is ‘only' 30,000:1 - miles short of the million to one-type figures now being quoted for plasma TVs by Samsung, Pioneer and Panasonic.
Let's not forget, though, that manufacturers' claimed contrast ratios always need to be taken with a pinch of salt, so it would be inappropriate to place too much weight on such figures until we've got some eye-witness evidence to back them up.