In the features arms race among HDTVs introduced at CES this year, the military-industrial complex at LG seems poised for victory with the 55LHX.
The company's flagship HDTV, a 55-inch flat-panel LCD, delivers more bullet-point features than you'd care to remember. The parade begins with an LED backlight with local dimming for improved black level performance. If previous models from other makers, like the Samsung LN46A950 and the Sony KDL-55XBR8 are any indication, LED backlights lead to the best picture quality available among LCD TVs. Compared to last year's 47LG90 with 120 dimmable LED zones, the new set has 240, which should cut down on the blooming we've seen on other LED models.
Next up is a 240Hz refresh rate, a feature that sounds twice as impressive as 120Hz but won't provide anywhere near the same level of picture improvement as LED--if our review of the 240Hz Sony KDL-52XBR7 is any indication. Unlike the MEMC technology used by Sony and Samsung, LG employs "scanning backlight" technology to achieve its 240Hz processing. The MEMC system inserts three interpolated frames for every true frame in a 60Hz source, while the scanning backlight system switches the backlight on and off very rapidly. We doubt the difference will be visible to most viewers, but we'll reserve judgment until we have a chance to compare both systems in the lab.
That's all well and good, but the kicker is wireless capability. The 55LHX ships with a base station, into which you plug your gear. The station in turn transmits those video signals to the panel itself, so all you need to plug into the TV is the power cord. The transmission method utilizes a proprietary 60Ghz radio and multielement antenna array, and the company says it's capable of uncompressed delivery of full 1080p video.
Want more? The 55LHX joins the ranks of slim TVs making the CES rounds this year, offering a cabinet depth of 0.9 inches thick. Like most LG HDTVs, it also includes extensive picture controls, including the same 10-point IRE system and full color management controls we liked on the company's 2008 models. A new "picture wizard" is available as well, which employs a series of onscreen test patterns to ease user calibration. LG points out the power saving capabilities of LED technology, and the 55LHX also offers a "smart" room lighting sensor that also helps improve efficiency and automatically adjust the picture.
Pricing, as usual, was not disclosed, but we feel safe speculating that it won't be cheap. The 55LHX will be available in March.