LG 47LE8900 television review
LG is one of several manufacturers to incorporate Freeview HD technology into its latest range of flatpanel TVs, bringing you a handful of high-definition channels without the need to fork out for an extra box. This 47-inch set uses Full LED technology to produce its razor-sharp HD pictures, and it comes equipped with an astonishing array of features to keep you entertained between World Cup matches.
The use of LED backlighting right the way across the screen not only benefits the picture but also allows LG to slim its profile down to an incredible 34mm. And like all the sets in the Infinia range, the screen and bezel are just one flat sheet of plastic, which looks incredibly stylish in a modern, minimal way. Within the black bezel is a row of touch-sensitive controls that light up when pressed, and the way the transparent part of the screen overshoots the black bezel is a nice touch.
Spin a 180 and you’ll find a decent array of sockets. Among them are four HDMI inputs, two sets of Component inputs (one via minijacks), an RGB-capable Scart, optical digital output and PC input. They’re joined by two USB ports that allow you to plug in a flash drive or external HDD and play music, video and photo files, alongside an Ethernet port. Hook that up to your router and you can access LG’s NetCast feature and stream media from networked PCs. The list of supported formats includes DivX HD, AVI, MP3, WMA and JPEG.
NetCast offers a series of web applications much like Samsung’s Internet@TV, but LG’s content pales in comparison - all you get is YouTube, AccuWeather and Picasa. However, it is very easy to use, and the main menu screen is presented with glorious animated graphics and eye-catching colours.
Network media streaming is similarly slick, presenting your files and folders with LG’s usual logicality and visual exuberance. It’s also pleasing to discover that day-to-day menu browsing, channel changing and other functions are carried out with rare haste, a good job too as the set-up menu boasts so many advanced picture tweaks and other options it could take days to explore everything. The well laid out remote also plays a big part in the set’s user-friendliness.
Among these are loads of picture presets, including THX daytime and evening settings and two ISF presets that can be set by a professional. There’s also TruMotion 200Hz, which uses a scanning backlight to eliminate motion blur and flicker, LED local dimming and an Eco mode that automatically dims the backlight in dark surroundings.
Picture performance is very impressive with the right material. A lot has been made of Freeview HD’s well-timed introduction before the World Cup, so what better way to test the LG’s mettle than with the tournament’s opening ceremony on ITV1 HD? It looks absolutely dazzling from the built-in tuner - the intricately detailed South African costumes look blisteringly sharp and the riotous colours are rendered with the requisite vibrancy and accuracy.
The LED backlight produces a wide contrast range, with deep black levels and nuanced gradation, and the benefits of local dimming are demonstrated by shots of bright lights in dark surroundings. The very busy picture, filled with crowd shots and lots of small, fast-moving objects, is handled without any traces of motion blur by the TruMotion processing, although there are some twitchy artefacts every now and again.
Standard-def Freeview performance is poor, with large swathes of block noise and smeary colours, although there aren’t many sets that can make the platform’s notoriously bad broadcasts look good. Of greater concern is the pitiful sound quality from the invisible speakers, which is OK for speech but anything with a bit more oomph, such as TV theme tunes or streamed music, sounds so thin you’d think you were listening to a transistor radio. Never has a separate sound system been so crucial.
Gorgeous styling, eye-popping Full LED pictures and a raft of cutting-edge features make the 47LE8900 an irresistible proposition, if you’re minted enough to afford its bank-bothering asking price.