LG’s 2011 passive TV range didn’t get off to a particularly promising start. The 55LW650T was supposed to be the brand’s flagship passive 3D model - until the brand’s ‘Nano’ models arrive much later in the year, at any rate. Yet it disappointed, partly thanks to how unforgiving its large screen was of a few weaknesses associated with LG’s new Film Patterned Retarder (FPR) passive 3D technology, but mostly because of the patchy nature of its backlight.
While reviewing the 55LW650T, though, it occurred to us that it was entirely possible that at least some of the issues we had with the 55in TV might be reduced or even eliminated on a smaller screen. Cue the 42LW550T: LG’s mid-range 42in FPR 3D TV. Can this set finally convince us that passive 3D really does have a part to play in today’s 3D AV world?
It starts rather quietly with its design, it has to be said. The glossy black bezel with transparent outer edging is no longer particularly original, and although the finish quality is decent, the bezel is rather wide by 2011 standards. The FPR filter on the front of the screen perhaps explains why, also, the 42LW550T doesn’t enjoy a single-layer fascia finish like LG’s Infinia models did last year.
We’re not saying the 42LW550T is remotely ugly here, mind you; just that it could perhaps have worn its cutting edge heart on its sleeve a little more.
Perhaps the single most significant jack, though, is the set’s LAN port. Obviously this is required by the 42LW550T on account of its integrated Freeview HD tuner. But it goes much further than that, allowing you to access content on DLNA PCs; the online content of LG’s Smart TV platform; or the Internet at large.
When it comes to accessing multimedia on your PC (or Mac), LG has rather cleverly forged a relationship with the PLEX Media Center system, which strives to deliver a graphics heavy, user-friendly front end to your multimedia file surfing. In principle we’re very enthusiastic about the PLEX approach, loving the way it can take the leg work out of finding specific files, and make your PC feel more naturally integrated with your TV. However, right now the system is a bit temperamental and not yet quite as intuitive to set up as it ultimately needs to be. Both of these issues will likely be improved via software updates over time, though.
As for LG’s own online offering, the amount of stuff on there has ballooned from the NetCast platform witnessed on last year’s LG TVs. You now have two ‘tiers’ of content, with the Premium one being of the most interest, as it’s here you’ll find most of the video services. Among the best stuff is the BBC iPlayer, the AceTrax movie rental/buy channel; subscription access to baseball channel, MLB.tv; and YouTube.