The HR939M’s Blu-ray picture performance is impressive. Movies are presented with intense sharpness and a pleasingly natural colour palette. You don’t get the extra layer of detail subtlety you’d get from dedicated high-end players but for all intents and purposes the HR939M delivers enjoyable hi-def pictures – and that goes for 3D too.
Freeview HD also looks bright, sharp and engaging, but it's not as dazzling as other PVRs we've tested. Colours, particularly skin tones, have a slightly waxy appearance, most noticeable during tennis coverage from Eastbourne on BBC Two HD. The tones on the players’ legs seem to blend into one, lacking definition and nuance.
The picture also seems over-sharpened – there’s a hard white line around the edge of most objects and detail seems forced. This was most scarily apparent when we tuned into Dickinson’s Real Deal on ITV HD and noticed the tanned antique-meister’s face looking more pickled than ever. However, its pictures are still blessed with punchy colours and smooth movement.
But switch to an SD channel and picture quality takes a big nosedive. The image is riddled with fuzzy mosquito and block noise (which you can make out in the screen shot above) as if it’s been re-encoded at a very low bitrate. Ghostly outlines surround moving objects and the whole picture seems hazy and lacking in definition. When you turn to an SD channel, a dialogue box helpfully informs you when that programme is also available in HD – with SD pictures this bad it’s an option you should take up every single time.
Programmes look exactly the same when recorded onto the hard disk, which is impressive from a recording perspective we suppose, but when the picture is flawed in the first place it’s not such great news.
On a more positive note, streamed video from YouTube and BBC iPlayer looks terrific and we had no problems when streaming any of our video and music files over DLNA.
Probably not. Sure, it’s attractive, easy to use and packed with features, plus the 1TB hard disk is generous for the money and media format support is extensive.
But when judged against the competition, the LG HR939M is hard to recommend. LG will find this hard to swallow, but arch rival the Samsung BD-F8500 is a far superior machine in every respect – particularly when it comes to recording flexibility, internet content and picture quality.
Freeview pictures are a real let down, particularly in SD, and it lacks the operational flourishes that turn a good PVR into a great one.
The HR939M boasts an abundance of features and a simple, attractive operating system, but it lacks the flexibility and generous web content of its rivals, plus Freeview HD pictures are disappointing.