Last week we looked at LG’s 42LV450U and found it struggling to justify its existence - chiefly because we’d already had a quick ‘preview’ look at LG’s step up model, the 42LV550T, and found that set’s only slightly more expensive talents looking like a much more tantalising option.
Now it’s time to put some meat on the bones of this hint at the 42LV550T’s potential with a full review. And while it’s far from perfect, it certainly does more than enough to justify the confidence we placed in it during the review of the 42LV450U.
In looks terms it’s classic LG. Its bezel is slender, its rear slim, and its finish glossy and minimalist. Its edges narrow down to an attractive point too, creating an optical illusion that the set is even slimmer than it really is. It’s not a particularly unique design any more, perhaps, but it feels decently well made and it’s a damn sight better looking than your average sub-£600 42in TV.
It becomes a whole lot more attractive as you start to count up its connections, too. Four HDMIs is the same number you might expect to find on a really high end set, and it’s stocked to bursting point with multimedia ports. The most important of these is its LAN jack, for this provides access to LG’s Smart TV platform.
We’ve seen in recent LG reviews just how much of an advance Smart TV is over previous LG online TV services, featuring more online video content (including the BBC iPlayer, AceTrax, YouTube, and WoomiTV) and a huge quantity of new apps - all presented via an elegant ‘smart hub’ interface and an even better looking apps ‘store’, complete with themed shelves!
It has to be said that personally we find most of the apps currently available to be pretty stupid or just plain weird. But hopefully they might ultimately turn out to be a mere ‘dry run’ for much more useful things that could be developed in the future.
The LAN port isn’t just for accessing Smart TV; it can also pipe in multimedia files - across an impressively varied range of formats - from connected PC or Mac computers. What’s particularly interesting about this is the fact that the set uses the PLEX ‘bridging’ software platform to produce a streamlined interface between your computer and the TV.
We’ve had trouble getting this to work with Macs when testing earlier LG PLEX-ready samples, but the 42LV550T picked up our resident iMac immediately, without us having to lift a finger. Now that’s more like it.
We’re not done with the LAN socket yet, as it happens, for it has a third use: as mandatory support for a built-in Freeview HD tuner. This tuner alone would be enough to justify the mere few quid the 42LV550T now costs over and above the 42LV450U, even before you’ve started to factor in the extra online features we’ve just covered.