The obviousness of the jagged look to contours noted on the 55LW650T is also less in your face thanks to the smaller screen, and even the reduction in resolution that’s really the key flaw with passive tech is less startling. You can certainly still see a difference against similarly sized active 3D screens, with the active 3D models looking a touch crisper and more detailed. But since the difference isn’t nearly as pronounced, it’s now arguably a trade off we could readily anticipate many mainstream households feeling more than happy to make in order to get passive 3D’s family-friendly benefits.
It even seemed to us that there was less crosstalk in the 42LW550T’s pictures than there was with the 55LW650T. We still don’t quite buy into LG’s ‘crosstalk-free’ claims, but there’s no doubt that crosstalk is far less obvious than it is with active 3D TVs – bar, perhaps, Panasonic’s best active 3D plasmas, such as the P50GT30.
That said, the 42LW550T is actually slightly more susceptible to a significant FPR weakness than the 55LW650T. And that’s the way crosstalk increases massively if your viewing position is more than 10-15 degrees above or below the screen. This is one screen you certainly won’t likely be able to wall-mount high above a fireplace.
From here, though, we pretty quickly get back to the good points about the 42LW550T’s 3D images. For without the FPR problems being as obvious on this smaller screen, we can also be more appreciative of two more of its strengths, namely the relatively little reduction in brightness and colour saturation caused by the passive 3D glasses, and the lack of any flicker – something that can definitely be fatiguing with active 3D if you have a lot of light in your room.
Turning to 2D, the 42LW550T also trounces the performance of the 55LW650T simply by not suffering anything like as badly with the inconsistent backlight woes of the bigger model. In fact, its edge LED lighting system scarcely suffers with any backlight inconsistencies at all, especially if you keep the backlight and contrast levels sensibly restrained. This allows the 42LW550T to reproduce dark scenes much more convincingly, with good black level depth that doesn’t come at the expense of too much shadow detail or brightness.
Because of this the 42LW550T’s pictures look impressively dynamic pretty much all the time – though there’s no doubt they’re at their best when handling predominantly bright, HD content, with which the screen’s ability to portray good 2D detail levels and exceptionally rich colours is to the fore.
Dutifully looking for more problems to warn you about, in an ideal world motion would look a fraction crisper and/or the TV’s TruMotion processing would be cleverer at removing blur without causing unwanted side effects. And the 2D to 3D conversion system would be cleverer at identifying the depth planes of objects within the frame. Otherwise, though, the 42LW550T’s audio is nothing to write home about either. It’s rather thin, short of bass, and unable to go really loud when asked to by a potent sound mix.
The 42LW550T certainly isn’t perfect; there are plenty of areas where LG can improve things with its 2012 passive 3D range, and its key 3D reduced resolution issue isn’t going to disappear. But crucially, the 42LW550T’s smaller size does a handy job of hiding many of the shortcomings of LG’s FPR 3D technology, leaving you freer to enjoy its benefits. And it’s impossible to deny that these benefits could seem very persuasive indeed to people – of whom we suspect there will be many! – likely to see 3D as merely a casual, occasional, social thing to be enjoyed on the cheap rather than the be-all and end-all of their TV life.
Score in detail
3D Quality 8
2D Quality 9
Sound Quality 6