As I start delving into the 42LE7900’s onscreen menus, my eye is quickly caught by a rather intriguing option: LED Dimming on/off. Now, as you might guess from its slimness, the 42LE7900 uses edge LED lighting rather than ‘direct’, or rear, LED lighting. Yet here’s an option permitting local dimming, a feature routinely cited by the direct LED supporters’ club as being one of the main advantages of that approach versus its edge-LED rival.
Delving into this little mystery deeper, the solution turns out to actually be quite simple. For LG has managed to configure its edge LED lights into 12 individually controllable ‘blocks’, with each block able to have its light output set differently to the others.
LG is the first brand to bring this intriguing technology to the UK TV market – though Sony has stated that it will do something similar with its imminent edge LED range, too.
Please note, by the way, that the 55in LE7900 has 16 blocks rather than 12, presumably because 12 doesn’t give local enough results on such a large screen. A fact which actually gives us an early hint of a rather significant problem I have with the technology. More on this in a moment.
The 42LE7900 is on rather safer ground with most of its other picture adjustments. LG has put far more picture adjustments at your disposal than the vast majority of other mainstream TV brands do – including a comprehensive colour management system, adjustable 100Hz processing, separate MPEG and standard noise reduction circuits, and a sensible gamma adjustment.
You really could tinker with the 42LE7900’s options for hours. So it’s no surprise to find the TV officially endorsed by the Imaging Science Foundation as being flexible enough to be professionally calibrated by one of its experts. Two ISF settings are included in the picture preset menu – one for day, and one for night. And actually, you can only access some of the finer points of the 42LE7900’s picture set up facilities once you’ve entered the ISF menus.
If all this talk of professional calibration and oodles of picture fine-tuning complexity scares the living daylights out of you, then help is at hand in the form of LG’s Picture Wizard. This uses a series of reasonably well explained test signals to help you do a reasonable level of calibration yourself without having to really know what you’re doing!
As I first settled down before the 42LE7900 to see if it produces pictures as attractive as its design, I found myself immediately impressed by its extreme brightness and colour punch – even after choosing a more sensible option than the daft Vivid preset that was engaged when I got my 42LE7900 out of its box. In fact, no other edge LED TV I can think of has managed to deliver quite such a riveting, attention-commanding, dynamic performance with bright scenes as this LG. And that includes models from a certain other Korean brand.
Not that it’s all about aggression; there are plenty of subtle things going on too, resulting in, for instance, smooth, believable colour blends, and colour tones that remain believable despite their strong saturations.
There’s more subtlety, too, in the TV’s impressive talent for reproducing all the detail in an HD signal from Freeview HD or Blu-ray, right down to such minutiae as the stubble on actors’ chins and the film-like grain some Blu-ray discs like to include. It’s also great to find that the clarity doesn’t diminish much at all when images contain a lot of movement, thanks to a combination of a good innate panel response time and, presumably, the TV’s 100Hz processing engine. Furthermore, the motion processing does its work reasonably cleanly provided you keep it set to a low level.
The 42LE7900 even keeps its head comfortably above water when showing standard definition, achieving levels of sharpness and colour accuracy that are probably the best LG has managed on an LCD TV to date.