- Review Price: £1199.99
Once heralded – in our household, at any rate – as the most revolutionary technological development since the toasted sandwich maker, Bluetooth has rather ebbed out of mainstream consumer electronics consciousness.
Admittedly it has its place. But that place predominantly seems to be in the car, with mobile phone headsets, or in the office, with, um, wireless phone headsets. Its range and bandwidth limitations have ultimately stopped it from taking over the living room as much as we might have expected.
Yet Bluetooth is on LG’s new 47LG7000 LCD TV. Coo. So does this mean Bluetooth is finally about to flex some long overdue muscles in the AV marketplace? Um, not really.
For a look at the small print surrounding the 47LG7000’s Bluetooth functionality reveals that it doesn’t deliver such foolish dreams as full video stream delivery from proper AV sources, or even wireless multi-channel audio distribution. Rather it can only be used to receive digital photos from Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones, or to listen to stereo sound from the TV using – you guessed it – a Bluetooth headset.
Still, while we might have used the word ‘only’ back there when talking about what the 47LG7000’s Bluetooth functionality can do for you, let’s not forget that any sort of Bluetooth functionality at all is pretty darned rare in TV circles. And if you do happen to be one of those people content to capture their lives in the relatively low quality of a mobile phone camera, then you might just love the 47LG7000’s Bluetooth efforts to bits.
If all this Bluetooth stuff sounds as much use to you as a chocolate teapot, though, fear not: the 47LG7000 has plenty of other tricks up its 47in sleeves.
Particularly significant among these is TruMotion 100Hz processing. This doubles the set’s scanning rate to 100Hz from PAL’s normal 50Hz, in a bid to reduce motion blur. It also goes a step further than normal 100Hz systems, since it doesn’t just repeat each image frame twice, but rather calculates a new ‘intermediate’ image that fills in the image gap between the two real frames of source data. This should, in theory at least, both reduce smearing interference and make motion onscreen look more fluid.
Talking of ‘fluid motion’, the 47LG7000 is also distinguished by a so-called 24p Real Cinema mode, which employs a 5:5 pulldown system specially designed to produce the cleanest, smoothest results with 1080p/24 feeds of the sort now produced by practically every Blu-ray player.
Yet more processing comes from LG’s XD Engine processing, with its focus on boosting colours, noise reduction, contrast and motion, while the screen is built to the full HD specification of 1920×1080 pixels, and reckons to be able to deliver a deliriously high maximum contrast ratio of 50,000:1 (with the help of a dynamic contrast system).
It’s fed via a roster of connections that include a very healthy four v1.3 HDMIs, all ready, willing and able to take in the Deep Colour format now starting to appear on one or two camcorders.
Other sockets of interest include a USB 2.0 port through which you can play JPEG stills and MP3 audio files from USB storage devices, a D-Sub PC port, and RS-232C control port for system integration, and an optical digital audio output.
The 47LG7000’s onscreen menus feature LG’s latest, extremely likeable graphics-heavy interface, and contain a helpful array of image tweaks that include noise reduction routines, a contrast expander, a black level booster, a backlight adjustment, and an unusual Eye Care mode that finally recognizes a long-held belief that LCD screens can actually be too bright for comfort by dimming the screen’s light output a touch.
In fact, the 47LG7000’s pictures are so adjustable that they can even be calibrated professionally by an Imaging Science Foundation engineer to best suit your specific viewing environment.
As we head into the real reviewing part of this article, we can’t help but contemplate the rather inconsistent nature of LG’s recent LCD output. Will the relatively high end 47LG7000 prove the unequivocal picture quality hit we’ve been waiting for?
Actually, it just about will. Starting out in tough style with the latest one-day cricket international between England and South Africa in HD on Sky, I really was quite startled by how accomplished its performance was.
Particularly gratifying is the way the set manages to remove practically all traces of motion blur from the image. Cricket is particularly tricky in this respect thanks to its combination of whirling bowlers’ arms and a small ball hurtling across a rich green field. Yet with TruMotion in action, even on its Low setting, almost all the resolution loss and smearing we might normally expect to see when watching such a source on an LCD TV is completely banished.
Just occasionally the ball seems to lose a fraction of its solidity, or take on a slight green tinge from the grass it’s traveling over. But these moments are rare, and are in any case far, far less distracting than the usual LCD motion blur problems.
At this point we should probably say that we personally wouldn’t recommend setting the TruMotion mode any higher than its Low level, as it can otherwise start to display some rather noticeable side effects like a slight shimmering ‘halo’ around moving objects. But provided you take this pretty basic precaution, the 47LG7000’s 100Hz/TruMotion system really is very accomplished, and finally puts LG well and truly on the TV processing map.
Once all this motion stuff has sunk in, you’ll also start to notice the screen’s almost radioactively intense colours, which are driven off the screen with an aggression that makes most rivals – especially plasma ones – look like dullards by comparison.
Of course, extreme brightness and vibrantly saturated colours do not automatically a good picture make. Just as well, then, that the LG’s colours are also impressively natural – probably the most natural I’ve ever seen on an LG TV, in fact. During a close-up of Sir Ian Botham’s face, for instance, the set delivers every single subtle variation in tone, picking out everything from broken blood vessels to the difference in tan levels around his wrinkles. All without a trace of blockiness or striping.
Facial close-ups like this are also a great revealer of the 47LG7000’s exceptional ability with fine detail. In fact, the ability to make out not just every facial hair on Beefy’s face but also each pore, each strand of grey hair and even each little weave in his rather fancy yellow and purple spotted tie is almost unnerving. But we love it all the same.
So far the 47LG7000 has done nothing but impress. But there are two crucial and notoriously tough areas left to catch the 47LG7000 out: viewing angle and black level response.
Regarding viewing angle, the news is actually OK. For while black levels and colour response certainly do drop off in the usual way as you increase your viewing angle, the effect isn’t really dramatic until you get to a respectable 60 degrees or so off axis.
Black levels are a touch more problematic. The opening black and white sequence of Casino Royale on Blu-ray, for instance, certainly suffers a little grey clouding over the pitch-black corners of Bond’s target’s office, and I also detected a touch of brightness ‘stepping’ caused by the dynamic backlight.
However, we are talking about a really very dark sequence here. With more ‘normal’ contrast levels to deal with, there’s certainly enough black level depth to deliver plenty of punch. Plus there’s usually enough shadow detail around to ensure dark scenes enjoy a sense of depth.
The Casino Royale Blu-ray is also handy for testing the 47LG7000’s motion handling – and again the TV is not found wanting. The combination of Real Cinema and Tru-Motion gives images good fluidity and clarity, especially during camera pans. And provided you’ve kept TruMotion to its Low level again, this fluidity isn’t troubled by distracting processing side effects badly enough to prevent you appreciating its benefits.
As with the vast majority of LG’s current flat TV range, the 47LG7000 uses an invisible speaker system tuned by audio guru Mark Levinson. And actually this system works rather better on the 47LG7000 than we’ve heard it sound on the brand’s smaller TVs, presumably thanks simply to the greater chassis area it has to work with. There’s still a bit of a bass shortage, and treble clarity could be better but the soundstage definitely sounds more involving and widespread. Also a provided Clear Voice system does an uncanny job of keeping dialogue to the fore even if the rest of the soundstage becomes a bit ‘muddy’ during an action sequence.
LG has been doing nicely on the design and price fronts in recent times, but has struggled to keep up with the Joneses when it comes to TV picture quality. Thankfully the 47LG7000 goes a long way towards putting that right.
We’ve got our hands on this one so hot of the presses that we can’t also confirm just how good value it is, as nobody is selling it yet! But LG’s history of aggressive pricing makes us pretty confident that it might well end up more affordable than you might expect…
As soon as we have a price, by the way, we’ll update this story accordingly, so if you’re interested in the set, keep popping back to this review and checking out the price and supplier sections at the top.
Score in detail
Image Quality 9
Sound Quality 8