Its standard definition upscaling isn’t quite as good at taking out noise as some of the best rival engines, but it’s good enough - especially as colour resolutions don’t tend to take the hit when shifting from HD to standard def that they have with some previous LG TVs.
With some acceptably clean and reasonably dynamic sound to keep the eye-catching visuals company, there really isn’t much at all to dislike about the 42LV550T for its money if you’re after a straightforward family TV.
Where the set does run into a spot of bother, though, is if you dim the lights for a spot of serious movie viewing. Things still look fine if your content is predominantly bright, but if you’re watching something with very dark scenes in it, you’ll find yourself frustratingly unable to achieve a truly satisfying picture.
The problem is not that LG hasn’t provided you with enough tools for getting a good black level response. There are plenty. The problem is that none of them get the job done.
The biggest offender by far is the local dimming system, which leaves ugly ‘blocks’ of brightness around bright objects when they appear against dark backgrounds.
Shame, then, that pictures lose considerable black level depth when you turn the local dimming off, and that trying to put this black level depth back again via the set’s dynamic contrast and backlight controls ends up either making dark parts of the picture look like black holes or else making the screen’s brightness output unstable, with noticeable ‘flickering’ during some scenes.
Viewing in a dark room also brought to light - literally - some subtle pools of backlight inconsistency in pictures. Though unlike the recently reviewed Toshiba 46UL863, these inconsistencies aren’t very aggressive at all.
Ultimately we never managed to arrive at a balance of contrast settings on the 42LV550T that we felt totally comfortable with for serious movie viewing. But then to be fair, given its £569 tag, dedicated cinephiles are arguably not the 42LV550T’s target market.
The final aspect of the 42LV550T’s performance we need to cover off is its potential as a gaming screen. Thankfully, it avoids the massive input lag problems noted on LG’s 3D TVs so far this year, delivering an average input lag figure of 30ms that really shouldn’t be enough to give you an excuse for being rubbish at Call of Duty. Or Battlefield, before you COD haters get started!!
The 42LV550T is another edge-lit LED TV that hasn’t got the black level response chops to totally satisfy our inner movie geek. But that’s not to say it’s not still a good TV for its money, especially once you’ve taken into account its considerable multimedia skills and attractive pictures when watching normal TV fare in typical ambient light levels.