Flexible though the 42SL9000’s pictures are, however, they’re still not quite flexible enough to overcome a shortcoming or two in the TV’s picture performance. The most surprising of these concerns a distinctly pinkish flavour to the set’s presentation of really bright colours – especially white.
I also didn’t manage to quite settle on a perfect balance for the TV’s noise reduction and motion enhancement processors. The 100Hz engine can generate noticeable side effects when running on full, yet when it’s turned down the picture falls prey a little more than I would have liked to motion blur.
Next, while the 42SL9000’s black level response is markedly better than that of most non-LED LCD TVs, it’s not as profound as I’ve seen from numerous other LED LCD TVs – both direct and edge-based models.
Having started down a negative path, I might as well get to the end of it before becoming more upbeat by pointing out, too, that the 42SL9000’s viewing angle is really very limited indeed – particularly if you’re likely to be sat rather close to the screen.
After so much negativity, it’s time I made it clear that at least some of my complaints are being made when considering the 42SL9000 against other LED LCD TVs. Considered against the majority of CCFL LCD TVs, the 42SL9000’s pictures actually look pretty darned good.
Colours, for instance, are strikingly vibrant, especially since the image is driven off the screen by a level of brightness that’s actually rare in the LED world.
The black levels I moaned about as being slightly grey versus most other LED LCD TVs actually look pretty profound versus most CCFL LCD TVs, while also containing a little more subtle shadow detail.
Standard definition pictures look decently sharp too, while not falling into the common trap of exaggerating noise during the upscaling processing. And HD pictures look detailed and cinematic – if not quite as crisp as they do on some of our favourite purveyors of HD material.
As with pretty much any LED TV I’ve seen so far, in fact, when a source image happens to line up all the picture planets just right so that the 42SL9000 can fire on all cylinders, its pictures really can look mouth-watering. The catch is that these serendipitous moments don’t crop up quite as regularly as I’d like them to.
There is one area, though, where LG can celebrate an edge-LED victory over its Korean rival. For the 42SL9000 sounds markedly more powerful and believable than any Samsung edge-LED set we’ve heard so far.
We’re not talking about anything truly amazing, mind you; there’s still not as much dynamic range, especially at the bass end, as I’d like/expect to hear from a less svelte screen. But at least you won’t immediately have to start considering a separate audio system as you do with the otherwise outstanding Samsung LED models.
The 42SL9000 certainly rates as a good LED LCD TV debut for LG, and its design and price will doubtless – deservedly – win it plenty of fans. But at the same time it gets just enough wrong to remind us that it is indeed a debut product, while one or two other brands are now on to their second generation of LED machines.