LG's 55LA740 is a mid-range set that manages to pack a huge number of features into its slim, stylish frame. It supports local dimming to help it achieve deeper black levels, has a good-looking smart TV system and includes extras like being able to mirror what's on the screen of your Android phones or tablet.
All this will set you back around £1,500 for the 55-inch model I reviewed -- it's also available in 42-, 47- and 60-inch versions.
User interface and TV guide
While other makers have given their menus and smart TV systems a complete overhaul this year, LG has instead just tinkered around the edges, adding a couple of new features.
The general settings menu remains pretty much untouched, but as it was good to begin with, this is far from a negative statement. In fact, LG's settings menus are well thought-out and sensibly structured, so it's fast and easy to adjust the settings you need to get at.
The picture menu allows you to tweak almost every element of the picture, and includes a full colour-management system. As with last year's models, this one has a very user-friendly picture wizard integrated into the settings menu that can help even novices properly setup their TV. Unlike the one on Philips TVs, it actually produces very good results too.
The smart TV system has had a few tweaks here and there, but for the most part it hasn't changed much from the system LG was using last year. It's still based around a homescreen from where you can access all the TV's various features, but LG has added a few extras, including the ability to create custom panels to give you quick access to your most used apps.
Sadly, the programme guide is pretty poor. When you open it up you lose all audio and video from the channel you were watching, so it's much more intrusive to use than the guides on Samsung and Panasonic's TVs, which have an integrated video thumbnail window. There's also no details box for programming info, so to get a summary of each show you have to first select it in the guide and then press the Info button on the remote, which quickly becomes tedious.
Digital media and Internet features
As with most of today's smart TV systems, LG's is based around a home screen. By default this has five panels across the top as well as a further banner of icons at the bottom of the screen.
The first top panel shows the most popular smart TV apps, including BBC iPlayer and Netflix, while the second displays some content from LG's 3D streaming service, 3D World. Next to this you'll find the panel for the Smart World store, which essentially shows the best of the lower-profile apps available in the TV's app store.
There's also a Game World panel that displays some of the top games available for the TV, while the last panel shows content you've shared to it from your computer or smart phone. Meanwhile, a banner at the bottom of the screen gives you quick access to stuff such as the AV inputs list, TV guide and Internet browser.
The interface is, on the whole, pretty good. It looks colourful and inviting, with crisp graphics used on the icons and transitions between different panels and screens. Navigating around it is also speedy, especially if you use LG's excellent motion remote control, which is supplied along with the normal zapper.
The line-up of smart TV apps isn't bad. Along with BBC iPlayer, it also has Lovefilm and Netflix onboard. There are also apps for Facebook and Twitter, as well as premium movie rental services like KnowHow film.
The media player integrated into the smart TV system works reasonably well, playing common formats such as KMV, MP4 and Xvid. As on Samsung TVs, the fast-forward and rewind controls don't work if you're streaming files across a network, only work when you're playing files from USB drives. It's a tiny thing, but it drives me nuts every time.
There are a few other negatives too. The service lacks support for ITV Player, Demand 5 and 4oD, which are all available on Samsung's smart TV platform. Also, although the interface is attractive, and now lets you create your own panels so you can group together the apps you use most often, there are times when it offers too many ways to achieve the same result, so it can be confusing the first time you start using it.
As with LG's other mid- and high-end TVs this year, this model supports Miracast, so you can mirror the screen from compatible Android smart phones and tablets to the TV. The results can be mixed though, as there tends to be a fair bit of lag between the two devices and media streaming -- especially HD streams -- tend to stutter.
Design and connections
The 55LA740 really is a cracking looking telly. It has a beautiful ribbon stand that elegantly holds the TV aloft and while it doesn't swivel in the traditional sense, it has small rollers on the bottom that allows you to easily move the TV from side to side. These have an integrated mechanism that locks them once they go past a certain number of revolutions, so there's no fear of your TV sliding off its stand.
The set also had an ultra slim bezel and narrow chassis, so it looks very modern and stylish and I really liked the ribbed, chrome effect that LG has added around the outer edge of the frame. All in all, it's a very classy package.
Annoyingly, though, it only comes with three HDMI ports. I really think any set over 32 inches in size should now include four HDMI ports as standard, simply due to the number of different bits of HDMI kit that we hook up to our TVs in this day and age, including set-top boxes and games consoles. In the other connectivity areas it's well specified, though.