The 47-inch 47LM960V is LG's top-of-the-range TV -- at least until it gets its OLED EM960V models out the door later in the year.
Priced at around £2,200, it'll make a serious dent in your bank balance, but it majors on heavy-hitting features including direct rather than, passive 3D support and more network services than National Rail. But does it justify the price?
User interface and EPG
LG has rejigged the user interface since last year's TVs, adding extra graphical fireworks while also changing the layout of the home screen. These graphic niceties are welcome and they really do help to set this TV apart from the competition. There are plenty of likeable touches including a cool 3D panning effect used on the home screen when you switch between windows.
I have to say though that I didn't find the new home screen layout all that intuitive. It looks a little messy to begin with as it bombards you with an awful lot of information in one go. But as soon as you've worked out the slightly kooky logic behind the layout, you soon get used to it. From then on in it's quite quick to navigate.
The new home screen is split into sections. Across the top are four separate window panes for premium apps, videos from the LG 3D online streaming service, apps from the LG Smart World app store, and finally, content you're sharing from your PC to the TV via Smart Share.
Beneath this is a shortcut banner that's labelled as 'My Apps'. It includes not just shortcuts to selected apps, but also icons for the settings menu, input list, electronic programme guide (EPG) and the set's user guide.
Part of the confusion arises because you can access some features in multiple ways. For example, you can stream your own videos to the TV via the video icon in this bar, by selecting them from the Smart Share window at the top of the screen, or by choosing the DLNA server name from the input list menu (DLNA servers are listed as inputs, just like Scart sockets and HDMI ports). It's clever, but none of this is particularly well explained in the manual, so instead you're left to work it out for yourself.
What I do like though is the Picture Wizard II guide that can be found in the settings menu. It helps you set up the TV to get the best picture quality, is very easy to follow and produces good results, unlike similar set-up wizards on other TVs I've used.
This model's EPG is hit and miss though. The layout is clean and welcoming, and it's easy to set up favourite channel lists. However, when you call it up, it completely blanks out all video and audio from the channel you're watching. It doesn't overlay on top of the video feed or have a video thumbnail window like the best EPGs do.
Like all of LG's higher-end TVs that will be released this year, it comes with two remotes. The first is a standard zapper, similar to the remote that LG has been using on pretty much all its tellies over the last two years. It's long and thin, but the layout is good and the buttons are firm and responsive.
The second remote is a wand-style controller. It's similar to the Wii remote. When you move it about it controls an onscreen cursor. Initially it feels odd to use as it's a little like controlling a TV with a mouse. Once you've grown accustomed to it the motion controller is a lot faster to use for stuff like selecting apps or inputting text. You can simply point it at the item you want to select, rather than click across multiple rows of apps or letters, as you would with a standard remote.
Digital media and Internet features
As you may have noted from my description of this TV's new home screen, LG has actually split out its Smart TV apps into two categories. In the premium apps menu you'll find the big hitters such as BBC iPlayer, Acetrax, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. On my review model, Netflix and Lovefilm apps weren't available, but LG says that these will be added before the end of the month.
Other content has been shuffled off to the LG Smart World section. Here you'll find a mix of games, news and entertainment services. Across these two hubs, the line-up of apps available is pretty impressive, putting LG broadly on a par with Samsung as leaders in the smart TV pack.
This model has a full web browser. Unlike the browsers on most TVs, this one supports Adobe Flash, so you can use it to watch the video reviews on CNET UK, for example. Annoyingly, there doesn't seem to be a way to make Flash videos play in full screen though.
The TV's handling of digital media is top notch. It has personal video recorder features, so if you plug a USB drive into one of the ports, you can record TV shows or schedule recordings via the EPG.
Last year LG forced people into using the buggy Plex software if they wanted to stream content to its premium tellies. This year you get the choice of Plex or any DLNA server. It means you can use the TV to stream videos, music and photos from NAS drives, so you don't always have to have your PC switched on to serve media to the telly.
File format support is very good. It worked fine with DivX, Xvid and MKV files, including high-definition files, and it also down-mixes surround sound audio to stereo for output via the TV's speakers.
Design and connections
This TV's design is a corker, largely due to its almost non-existent bezel. Thehas a similar look, but the screen starts about a centimetre in from the silver band that runs around the outer edge on it. On this model, the screen runs right up to this band, so the bezel is a mere 4mm wide. The stand is very attractive too -- its design makes the TV look like it's floating on air when viewed from the front.