LG has thrown everything but the kitchen sink into the BH9430PW, including an impressive range of network features and sound modes.
The stand-out feature is 9.1-channel surround sound, which expands the stage vertically using those upward-firing drivers in the speakers. The idea is to replicate the acoustics of a concert hall or cinema. It’s backed up by 3D Sound Zooming, designed to match the ‘movement’ of 3D images – so if something’s coming towards you, the audio should do the same. There are two 3D modes – Movie and Music.
You’ll find loads of other sound modes, including Bass Blast, Clear Voice, Game, Night, Upscaler, Loudness, User EQ, Natural Plus, Natural and Bypass (our favourite).
On the network side, LG’s Smart TV portal boasts a better selection of web content than Viera Connect but not a patch on Samsung’s Smart Hub.
The 19-strong selection comprises BBC iPlayer, LoveFilm, Netflix, YouTube, Blinkbox, Dailymotion, CineTrailer, AccuWeather.com, Picasa, Crackle, Facebook, Google Maps, Deezer, iConcerts, Euronews, Museum Purescreens HD, Berliner Philharmoniker Digital Concert Hall and the now defunct Acetrax.
Spotify was also added to its roster in March and appeared here after a software update. It’s a welcome inclusion for music fans although you’ll need a premium subscription to use it.
There’s a lot more content in LG Smart World, including lifestyle and educational apps, games and puzzles. No sign of ITV Player, 4OD or Demand 5 though, all of which are found on Samsung’s latest systems. The built-in web browser slow to use and doesn’t support Flash, which means you can’t use it to access those missing catch-up TV services.
The BH9430PW is also DLNA certified, and through its SmartShare feature you can stream music, video and photos from PCs, smartphones and other networked devices.
You can also stream files from devices using Wi-Fi Direct or play them from USB flash drives and external HDDs. The list of supported formats includes DivX HD, XviD, MKV, AVI, WMV HD, MP4, AVCHD, MP3, WMA, AAC, FLAC, WAV and JPEG. That’s pretty much a full house, although it wouldn’t play MKV over a network, only via USB.
The front USB port also supports iPod, iPad and iPhone. Menus and playlists are reproduced onscreen, displaying cover art during playback, and you can control it all using the LG’s remote. Nifty.
Elsewhere it boasts Miracast, which mirrors your smartphone’s screen on your TV; Private Sound, which sends TV audio via Wi-Fi to mobile devices, allowing you to listen through headphones; and Bluetooth for easy music streaming, with Near Field Communication (NFC) easing the pairing process.
On the Blu-ray side the system plays 3D discs, converts 2D to 3D and upscales content to 4K resolution for viewing on compatible displays. It also decodes Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio soundtracks. This really is an astonishingly well-specced system.