We have a lot of time for the 42LV450U’s colours, too. They enjoy all the vividness we’re coming to expect from edge LED lighting, but also deliver more blend and tone subtlety than is common at the sub-£600 section of the 40-42in TV market. What’s more, while some of the set’s colours can look a bit gaudy using most of the TV’s presets, it’s possible to get a pretty convincing colour balance after spending only a little time with the colour management tools.
Normal TV fare - by which we mean predominantly bright footage with a few dark bits rather than uniformly dark pictures - look to be full of contrast too, with really crisp whites resting alongside what appear to be well resolved blacks.
However, working the TV harder with a few dark Blu-ray film scenes, the 42LV450U starts to struggle. It becomes apparent with very dark scenes that its contrast is rather limited, with bits of the picture that should look black instead looking grey. Obviously reducing the backlight output and brightness settings can improve things, but by the time black colours start to convince, you’ve ended up crushing out of the picture significant amounts of shadow detail, leaving the newly dark picture areas looking hollow.
On the upside, the backlight level does look quite consistent right across the screen during dark scenes, with little evidence of the patches of extra brightness or clouding that plague so many edge LED TVs. The only rider we would add to this is that backlight inconsistencies start to appear quite aggressively if you move your viewing angle any further than around 30 degrees away from perpendicular to the screen.
The 42LV450U’s audio performance is a little uncomfortable, for want of a better word. It works pretty well at the treble end of the spectrum, picking up subtle ‘tinkly’ details many TVs do not, and pushing general treble information out aggressively. The mid-range is just about open and powerful enough to satisfy too, allowing voices to sound credible and clear under all but the most raucous of circumstances.
However, there are some mid-to-high tones that tend to cause the set’s chassis to vibrate if you’re using any significant volume levels, and bass levels fail to open up during action scenes, leaving the perky trebles sounding over-exposed.
The last thing to discuss here is the set's input lag. LG hasn't fared too well in this department this year, and sadly the 42LV450U continues that trend. We measured an average input latency of fractionally under 70ms, which is easily high enough to compromise your performance if you're using the TV as a gaming monitor.
Considered on its own, the 42LV450U is a pleasant enough budget TV option - provided, that is, you can live without a Freeview HD tuner, which actually we personally could not. What really makes the 42LV450U impossible to wholeheartedly recommend, though, is the fact that you can get LG’s step-up 42LV550T for only £60 more. Not a lot when you consider that this step up set - which we intend to review in the next week or so - adds a Freeview HD tuner, more advanced picture technology and LG’s full Smart TV service to the 42LV450U’s feature list.