LG puts Skype on TVs, and thin is in
"LED" means "thin and more expensive" to most TV shoppers, but that's not the whole story. LG, for example, offers three distinct varieties of LED backlighting among the models it announced at CES 2010, and the LE7500 series occupies the middle range of "expensive." This set is edge-lit, meaning the LED elements are arranged along the edge of the panel and shine toward the middle. Judging from the edge-lit models we reviewed last year, mainly from Samsung, the arrangement necessitates some trade-offs in picture quality for the privilege of being thin.
Unlike those older Samsung sets, however, the LE7500 series incorporates what LG describes as "basic" local dimming. In this model there are 16 separately dimmable segments (regardless of screen size). Perhaps basic dimming will improve picture quality somewhat over standard edge-lighting, but we'll have to wait till we can test one to find out.
This TV also incorporates the company's Netcast suite of interactive features, first seen on the LG LH50 from 2009. It can access streaming video courtesy of Netflix, Vudu and YouTube, and also offers a range of Yahoo Widgets. New for 2010, Netcast also adds access to Napster's catalog of streaming music, as well as the capability to make video and voice calls using Skype (camera module required, estimated to be $99). You can also stream photos, videos and music from a home network using the TV's DLNA capability, or access such content stored on USB. An optional dongle is available if you'd like to connect the TV using Wi-Fi ($89 estimated).
Speaking of wireless options, all Netcast LG sets in 2010 can also work with an optional "Wireless Media Hub." When you connect your external sources, such as a Blu-ray player or a cable box, to the hub, it can send the signals to a special receiver wirelessly, which then connects to the TV. LG says the system has enough bandwidth for full 1080p and a range up to 98 feet. The hub and receiver are sold separately as a package, which we're told will retail for an estimated $399.
LG LE7500 series features:
- Edge-lit LED backlight with "basic" local dimming
- 120Hz refresh rate
- Netcast Interactive feature suite with Netflix, Vudu, Skype, Napster, YouTube, DivX, AccuWeather, and Yahoo Widgets
- DLNA compatible for music, photos, and video
- Optional "Wireless Media Hub" interface
- Optional Wi-Fi connection
LG LE7500 series models:
- LG 55LE7500: 55-inch, price TBD, availability March 2010
- LG 47LE7500: 47-inch, price TBD, availability March 2010
- LG 42LE7500: 42-inch, price TBD, availability March 2010