- Review Price: £1332.75
This year has seen the arrival of LG’s most diverse TV range yet, boasting everything from die-hard budget models to high-concept design models and high-end feature-packed models. But despite the new diversity, one constant factor has remained throughout the range: they’ve all been remarkably cheap.
And that trend continues today with the 52LG5000: a huge 52in brute of an LCD TV that can be yours for a little over £1,300. Bargain. Or at least it will be if it manages to deliver any sort of quality.
It delivers a lot of sheer physical presence, at any rate. For as well as the sheer acreage of the 52in screen, the 52LG5000 sports a surprisingly wide bezel that extends more than two inches from the screen on all four sides.
Don’t think this big old bezel means the TV is unfashionable, though. As with pretty much anything LG makes these days the 52LG5000 is rather a pretty thing, with its large bezel turned into a positive by its ultra-glossy finish and the minimalism of its lines.
Connections, meanwhile, are fair enough for a TV boasting such a relatively low price tag, including as they do three v1.3, Deep Color-enabled HDMIs, a digital audio output, a PC port, and an RS-232C jack for system integration.
Please note that there’s no sign of the fourth HDMI or USB ports that can be found on LG’s step-up LG6000 models. In fact, now that we’re in a comparative frame of mind, we should point out that the 52LG5000 also doesn’t boast the bright red butt that so distinguishes the LG6000 ‘Scarlet’ models.
As you’d expect of any 50in-plus LCD TV these days, its resolution is a Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. But that’s certainly not the end of the impressive specs, for it also boasts a terrifically high 50,000:1 claimed contrast ratio, a set of four 2-way speakers cunningly hidden away so as not to spoil the TV’s minimal aesthetics, a swivelling stand, and LG’s proprietary XD Engine video processing.
This processing engine doesn’t really do anything particularly innovative, truth be told; its attempts to boost motion handling, detail levels, colour tones/saturations and contrast are pretty well in line with what processing engines from rival brands offer. But after a slightly shaky start a few generations ago, XD Engine appears to gradually be developing into a reasonably likeable system.
Also deserving of a nod on the feature front is a Clear Voice mode that emphasises vocals in an audio mix so that they don’t get overwhelmed during action sequences; LG’s Intelligent Sensor technology for automatically adjusting multiple elements of the picture based on how bright your viewing room is; 1080p/24 support; and a Game mode specially designed for console gaming that tweaks the TV’s processors to keep the screen’s response time to a minimum.
One potentially key feature the 52LG6000 does not have, mind you, is 100Hz processing to help smooth and sharpen the appearance of moving objects. This is alarming to say the least when you consider how much motion blur we experienced with LG’s 32in 32LG5000. If the 52LG5000 doesn’t sort this out, its much larger and therefore far less forgiving screen could present us with a bit of a mess.
Just as well, then, that the amount of blur in the 52LG5000’s pictures intriguingly – and thankfully – really isn’t as obvious as it was on the smaller model. Fed a tricky and admittedly quite bizarre combination of the latest South Africa vs England Test Match in HD and the hilarious (in a truly bad way) mammoth-fuelled finale of the new Blu-ray of ”10,000 B.C.”, the 52LG5000’s motion handling was actually OK.
Yes, there’s some sign of blur to the South African bowlers’ limbs as they charge in; a little resolution loss in the mammoth’s hair as they go on a rampage against their Egyptian ‘captors’; and a fractionally ‘laggy’ look to the grass as the camera pans across the ground to follow the cricket ball’s trajectory. But overall the screen’s natural blurring and lag levels are never quite severe enough to make pictures really unpleasant on the eye. Phew.
I included the word ‘natural’ in the previous sentence for a very good reason. For if you start messing around with the TV’s noise reduction options you can introduce all manner of smeary unpleasantness. So my advice to you would be to make a point of checking all noise reduction stuff is turned off when you’re watching any sort of HD footage on this screen, and only setting it to a minimum level if you really feel you need it while watching standard definition.
Actually, I’d probably say the same thing for the noise reduction systems of any flat TV. But it’s more imperative advice with the 52LG5000 than usual.
Looking for other nice things to say about the 52LG5000’s pictures, they’re exceedingly bright with really quite extreme colour saturations. This helps Sky’s cricket coverage blast, almost blare, off the screen, especially when the action’s taking place on a nice sunny day.
In fact, initially I found the image’s brightness and intensity distinctly over the top, to the point where I almost had to squint at it. But after calming things down by changing the picture preset away from the absurdly over-wrought ‘Vivid’ factory setting, and tweaking down the contrast and brightness settings, the picture started to look just eye-catching rather than eye-ruining.
The screen’s enthusiasm for brightness does have other repercussions, though. For the bottom line is that the TV’s black levels are merely solid by today’s standards, leaving dark ”10,000 B.C.” scenes, like the ones in the slave’s ‘prison’, looking rather grey and flat. And this is even with the Movie preset in play, which reduces the backlight output all the way down to 20 per cent.
To make matters worse, the 52LG5000’s viewing angle leaves a little to be desired, with some pretty severe drop off in colour saturation and black level response once you start sitting at an angle of any more than 40 degrees or so from face on.
Now we’re firmly back in a negative frame of mind, it’s worth adding that although they’re eye-catchingly vibrant, colours are also prone to one or two suspect tones, especially where skin is concerned. There’s a definite trace of orange in the way some flesh looks, and the lack of a truly deep black to counterpoint bright colours during dark scenes can leave them looking a bit radioactive, too.
Please also note that all of the colour tone issues we’re reporting are made worse if you make the mistake of setting the TV’s ‘Fresh Colour’ option any higher than ‘Low’.
Our more negative comment would be that the 52LG5000 doesn’t deliver as much ‘HD dazzle’ in terms of detailing and sharpness as some of its best rivals. For instance, the fur of the CGI Sabre Tooth tiger (they couldn’t find a real one, apparently) in ”10,000 B.C.” doesn’t contain quite as much clarity and hair delineation as it does on our reference Pioneer plasma or Philips LCD screens. Skin tones, too, tend to look a bit waxy thanks to their slight lack of definition.
Or at least this lack of HD precision is the case when there’s any sort of motion going on. To be fair detail levels are up there with the best of them with relatively static HD shots.
The final area of concern regarding the 52LG5000’s pictures is its standard definition scaling. I found that images from all but the very finest quality SD sources look rather noisy, and the whole orangey/waxy skin tone thing sometimes goes into overdrive.
Sonically the 52LG5000 is a pretty respectable effort. It produces some very high volumes during the ”10,000 B.C.” slave/mammoth revolt finale, while retaining good dialogue clarity (especially with Clear Voice in play) and pushing subtle effects over a decently wide range. Bass levels are solid, too, though not quite deep enough to stop the occasional moment of harshness creeping in.
The 52LG5000 isn’t anything like the horror show we’d feared it might be after spending time with its much smaller sibling. In fact, with the right sort of bright, colourful, relatively static HD footage, its pictures can look very appealing indeed – and this could be enough to win it many fans given its price, especially if you can feed it a predominantly high definition diet.
But at the same time various shortcomings cause its pictures to slide dangerously close to average territory a bit too often for comfort, especially if you spend most of your time in standard definition land.
Score in detail
Image Quality 7
Sound Quality 8