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Monday, July 15, 2013

LG 42LA690V review: feature rich 42-inch TV

Proof that that you no longer have to dig deep to own the latest TV tech, the 42-inch LG 42LA690V offers internet TV, 3D and seamless smartphone integration, for just £899.

Throw impressive build quality into the mix, and you might wonder what the incentive is to spend more. Need bigger glass? This formidably equipped mid-ranger is available in two other screen sizes, the 47-inch 47LA690V and the 55-inch 55LA960V, priced at £1199 and £1599 respectively. See also: Group test: what's the best TV?

The 42LA690V feels reassuringly substantial straight from the box. With a super narrow bezel, stylish aluminium trim and sweeping matt-finish ribbon stand, it’s also easy on the eye.

Connections include a trio of HDMIs, one of which supports MHL (mobile high-definition link) for Android smartphones, and a matching number of USBs, plus ethernet, SCART, component and composite video. Wi-Fi is built-in.

It comes with two controllers, a traditional IR zapper and the latest iteration of LG’s Magic Remote, which offers a handy cursor which (when mastered) simplifies navigating the online Smart portal and web browser.

The set also ships with four pairs of 3D glasses and two pairs of Dual Play specs, used to simultaneously display split-screen games. In addition to a Freeview HD tuner, there’s also the option of a generic DVB-S2 satellite tuner, which will give you the Freesat channel bouquet.

SmartShare file playback is comprehensive. All key video codecs and containers are accessible from both USB device or networked NAS, including WMV, AVI, MKV and MOV, while MP3s play back with sleeve art.

The set’s Smart TV portal offers plenty of IPTV diversions, including BBC iPlayer, Lovefilm, Netflix, Blinkbox, YouTube, KnowHowMovies, Napster, Deezer and YuppTV, alongside dedicated Game world and 3D World silos.

There’s also Skype (webcam required), Facebook and Twitter.

Disappointingly, despite the slickness of the set’s user interface, the programme guide is a stock Freeview offering that lacks both picture-in-picture and channel audio. You can, however, record onto an external USB hard drive.

Mobile connectivity is bolstered by Miracast Wi-Fi and NFC (Near Field Communication). Miracast literally mirrors the screen of a compatible Android smartphone on the TV, attempting to duplicate the screencast technology of Apple’s AirPlay. It can be a great way to share content, be it JPEGs, video footage or a website stream.

Meanwhile LG dubs its NFC implementation Tag On. The set comes with a small NFC sticker which you stick anywhere convenient (the set itself, a coffee table, whatever) which when tagged/touched by an NFC Android phone creates a paired link between the two.??Image quality looks good with HD sources, however it soon becomes clear that the panel lacks any effective high-speed picture processing, which reduces motion clarity.

Regardless which TruMotion setting you engage, the set drops definition when things kick off. What it offers instead is a glassy, smoothness to movement.

Given that the TruMotion process actually introduces image artefacts (seen as smudgy outlines around certain moving objects), we think the set is best served with the process switched off.

LED backlight consistency is a little uneven, but on a panel this size it’s not problematic. There was no overt light pooling in corners.

LG earns kudos for its audio performance. Much of the set’s acoustic energy sounds to be dispensed in the low-midrange, between 100Hz and 500Hz, and there’s little shortfall in volume.

A supplemental woofer on the rear of the set combats the thinness which plagues modern flatscreens, rendering dialogue clear and rounded.

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