Before we find out if the 42LT75 has the performance goods to back up its impressive functionality, there are a couple of limitations with the Freeview Playback system that you ought to be aware of. First and worst, you can’t simultaneously record two digital channels as you can with Sky+. Second, strangely there’s no sign of a programme on your storage list while it’s actually being recorded; it only shows up when the recording is complete.
Still, we guess the two limitations just described won’t seem like too big a deal to people wanting the joys of integrated digital TV/HDD recording without having to pay through the nose for them like you do with Sky’s alternative.
What’s more, the 42LT75’s recordings of digital channels are absolutely impeccable. In fact, since the TV actually records the direct digital bitstream to its HDD, the results are indistinguishable from the original broadcast. And you can’t say fairer than that.
Although it’s doubtful if you’ll need to record the TV’s analogue tuner very often, the 42LT75 still does a good job of it when required. Various recording quality options are available for the analogue tuner, with the lower quality options taking up less memory space. And of these options the top ‘High’ mode results in pictures only slightly more noisy than the original analogue broadcasts, while even the much less memory-hungry Standard mode also holds up nicely, looking considerably better than anything you’d see from an old VCR.
Shifting our attention from the quality of the 42LT75’s recordings to its actual screen picture performance, the 42LT75 turns out to be an unexpected success. Why unexpected? Because the 42LT75 really does make large strides in the right direction away from the rather underwhelming efforts of many of LG’s other recent LCD offerings.
Particularly noteworthy – not to mention essential given its Freeview Playback focus – is how good the 42LT75’s standard definition pictures look versus most other LG LCDs. For instance, the old LG tendency to over-stress noise in standard def images is here replaced by one of the cleanest digital tuner presentations we’ve seen.
Also, the previous LG problem with colours starting to adopt some weird tones during standard def viewing has been massively reduced, to the point where the 42LT75’s standard def pictures are actually among the most naturally hued we’ve seen on an LCD TV.
Finally, as objects pass across the screen during standard definition viewing, there’s far less of the smearing problem witnessed on previous LG LCDs.
The extent of the standard definition improvements made for the 42LT75 is so striking, in fact, that we can only imagine that making a Freeview Playback TV has finally forced LG’s Korea-based engineers to tweak their normal picture processing routines to optimise them for the actually very specific picture demands of our Freeview service. Let’s hope similar changes can now infiltrate the entire LG TV range.
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