Also, of course, LG has considerably ramped up the amount of content its online TV service supports. For us, the headliners of this content are predominantly related to video streaming services, such as the BBC iPlayer, YouTube, the AceTrax film purchase/rental service, and MLB.tv: the latter being a treat for the, um, handful of people in the UK who love American baseball so much they’re willing to pay a subscription to watch it!
We also got good mileage out of a decently presented internet radio tuner, can see the potential of the onboard Facebook and Twitter tools, and initially enjoyed browsing the virtual ‘shelves’ of LG’s new app store. Until it dawned on us that a rather high percentage of the apps on these shelves were really pretty feeble.
Many are just very basic games that seem hopelessly outdated in an era when even a few grandmas we know have Nintendo DSes. And some others, such as a Tarot card app and an app about musical wine glasses, are ‘minority interest’ to say the least.
Overall, while the efforts of LG’s Smart TV service certainly add some genuinely useful content to your TV, not for the first time we’re left feeling like the future of Smart TV functionality lies in video streaming rather than offering dozens of essentially useless bits of app fluff. If we want to waste our lives with those, we’ll use our smartphones, thanks very much!
One last thing to say about the 32LV550T’s multimedia abilities is that while we see the potential in LG’s tie-up with Plex, right now the platform is too difficult to get working - especially with a Mac - and a little too unstable to garner the widespread interest it deserves. Hopefully LG and Plex will refine their interface in the coming months.
Out of the box, the 32LV550T’s pictures didn’t impress us all that much, with black level response looking particularly problematic. But thankfully the set provides the tools to fairly easily tweak pictures into a much more likable place.
So extensive are these tools, in fact - including colour management, white balance and gamma controls - that the 32LV550T is endorsed by professional calibration group the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF).
Technophobes will be relieved to hear, though, that while micro-managing the set’s colours and white balance is certainly time well spent if you can be bothered, you can significantly improve pictures just by spending a few minutes with the set’s provided Picture Wizard tool.
Once they’ve been set up right, the 32LV550T’s pictures become very enjoyable. Black level response, for instance, goes from average to pretty good, with much less ‘grey mist’ hanging over dark scenes than was the case using the TV’s out of the box settings. What’s more, the edge LED lighting produces its decent black level response without sacrificing too much brightness, so that bright parts of predominantly dark pictures still enjoy an attractive degree of punch.