LG 47LX9900

It may be 3D-ready, but LG has come up with one of the most luscious 2D TVs of the year so far. Part of its LX9900 Series (which also includes a 55-inch model), this 47-inch Direct LED-backlit LCD TV has features and quality in spades that make its 3D-readiness a mere future-proofing footnote.

Perhaps it’s the sheer slimness that grabs the attention initially; it’s just 31mm in depth - especially stunning given direct LED sets tend to be much fatter than edge LED-lit models. Equally as impressive is its secondary remote. Operating just like a Nintendo Wii Nunchuk, what is certainly the flat TV industry’s finest and friendliest user interface just got better. It’s now possible to point the nunchuk at the screen and completely replace the old-fashioned remote … and if you need to access complex commands that the nunchuk can’t, a "virtual" remote pops-up on the 47LX9900’s screen.

Navigating the TV begins at "Home", which constitutes six pop-up icons along the bottom of the channel you’re watching. Choose "TV guide" to display a simple, high-res, 8-day EPG for Freeview HD, which floats over the current channel and shows schedules for 2 hours over five channels - and in a highly readable large font.

Other shortcuts reach an inputs screen, which only shows live devices (such as an attached Blu-ray player and a USB stick in either of this set’s two USB slots), while NetCast takes you to LG’s nice-looking, though sparse, online content portal. Better is "MyMedia", which accesses digital files via either USB or Ethernet. The latter is a let-down, with no wireless option available save for a USB dongle, but the file compatibility is brilliant - every single test file of ours played quickly and stably, including DivX HD and WMV HD files. Elsewhere on "Home" you’ll find a few nunchuk-friendly games and a "Quick" menu that puts a virtual wheel of features on the screen for you to point and click at.

The 47LX9900’s ISF Certification means its picture can be fully customised to rigorous industry standards - and in this TV’s case, that achieves high contrast, believable blacks, and no trace of motion blur in the 400Hz mode - but it’s important to know that ISF doesn’t apply to the 3D image. Professional calibration of TVs is undertaken by placing a sensor beside the screen and monitoring real world levels of colour, something that’s hard to do with 3D’s two separate images; where do you put the sensor? Behind each lens of the 3D glasses? Simply put, there is no industry standard for measuring the quality of 3D images just yet.

That said, the 47LX9900’s 3D image isn't too bad on first viewing. It’s certainly a great deal brighter than Panasonic’s plasmas, and fairly comfortable using LG’s 3D glasses (unusually, two pairs are provided) though there’s a definite problem with crosstalk echoes - when an image meant for your left eye is visible to the right, and vice versa - despite the fast panel.

Our only other complaint about the 47LX9900 is the sacrifices that have had to be made to make it so thin. Attaching a HDMI into the side of the TV is no problem, but the three ports on the rear will need folding HDMI cables if they’re not to get in the way of wall mounting. And if you're going to spend this kind of cash on the flattest TV we’ve seen, you’ve got to put it on show.

Verdict

A nunchuk-style remote control! Why did nobody think of this before? Its 3D-ready badge might grab the headlines, but away from those rather mixed images the 47LX9900 is a fabulous TV for all occasions. Rich in colour and contrast and blessed with perhaps the ultimate user-friendly interface, this 47-inch Direct LED-backlit TV plays host to some of the best Blu-ray and Freeview HD pictures we’ve ever seen.