While most other manufacturers are pushing active 3D systems, LG is sticking resolutely to its passive 3D technology and is gradually winning over many converts. For the uninitiated, passive systems use the type of polarised glasses you would get in the cinema as opposed to active shutter glasses, which alternately control the light in each lens via electronics to create a perception of depth. A major appeal of passive systems is that the glasses are so cheap in comparison to those for active sets.
The 42LW650T packs in much more than just passive 3D support, though, as it includes great media streaming and internet features, as well as LED local dimming that helps to improve black level perofrmance. This attractive looking set will leave your wallet around £850 lighter.
User interface and electronic programme guide
If there are two companies that have done a lot to modernise the look of the menu systems on their TVs, it's LG and Samsung. LG in particular has made great strides over the last couple of years, and the results are reflected in the gorgeous menus you find on this TV. They're packed full of slick and colourful icons, neat animations and other cool graphics effects.
All the TV's main features can be access just by pushing the home button on the remote, which takes you to a centralised screen where you can adjust the TV's settings, load up various Internet apps, use the media streaming features and more.
There are also buttons on the remote to take you directly to stuff like the picture settings, so you don't always have to start from the home screen when you just want to change the picture preset, for example.
The EPG follows the lead of the menus and also has a crisp and modern look. It uses a pretty traditional horizontal layout, with channel names listed down the left-hand side and upcoming programmes shown on a timeline running left to right.
It only shows five channels at a time, so it could use the available space more efficiently, but the large font used to display the programming guide means that you don't have to squint to read it.
Digital media and Internet features
Of course, one of the main reasons why LG has decided to adopt this home screen approach to its menu system is that this set adopts its Smart TV system. This includes a pretty large range of apps. Some of these are essential, including a neat implementation of BBC iPlayer that lets you stream shows in both standard and high definition. YouTube and Dailymotion are also supported, as well as a whole host of other internet video services such as Acetrax for on-demand movie rentals.
You also get apps for social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, although these can be sluggish to use. If you've got a smartphone you'll probably still check it for Facebook updates rather than using the app that's included here.
The TV can also access LG's app store, where you'll find a load of weird and wonderful offerings, ranging from weather and news apps to simple games that you can install and uninstall from the set as you wish. There's a fair amount of junk in the app store, but as the vast majority of the apps are free you can also just uninstall them if you don't like them.
Along with the internet video services, LG has added a full web browser. Like the social networking apps, navigation can be slow and torturous using the remote, and there's no Flash support, so you can't use it to view most sites with video. However, it does render pages nicely, so it may come in handy.
This set's digital media support is relatively nifty too. You can either play content from USB keys or hard drives plugged into one of its two USB ports. Alternatively you can stream content across a network using an Ethernet port. Playing media from a USB keys is a piece of cake and the file format support is very good; it dealt with everything we chucked at it including high-definition MKV files.
Network streaming is more problematic though. This is because LG has teamed up with the people who produce the Plex media server software for PCs and Macs. The reasoning behind this is sensible: Plex scans the media files held on your computer and then serves them out to your TV via a much more sophisticated-looking interface that includes stuff like movie poster art, lists of actors and plot summaries.
The Plex software seems to be still quite buggy and it took some faffing about to get the TV to communicate with our PC. More annoyingly, LG appears to have dropped support for standard DLNA servers, so if you've got a DNLA server built into a NAS drive, for example, this TV can't see it. It didn't work with our Iomega Home Media Network drive, for example, even though previous LG sets worked like a charm with this drive's onboard DNLA server. So unfortunately it's a case of one step forward, two steps back.
Design and connections
Sadly this TV lacks the Infinia single-sheet-of-glass design that LG uses on many of its high-end sets. Instead this model looks more like a traditional set with a slight step up between the edge of the screen and the bezel. It's still an attractive-looking TV thanks to its piano black finish and the transparent lip that frames the edge of the bezel.