LG's 55LW980 is the first TV we've seen from the company to use its new Nano technology. This is a filter that's placed between the screen and the LED backlighting to reduce haloing and banding problems associated with LED screens.
The set is crammed to the gills with other features too, including passive, built in Wi-Fi and Internet TV services. It's seriously pricey, however, costing a not inconsiderable £2,800.
User interface and EPG
The 55LW980 uses LG's new user interface, which is one of the best out there. It's centred around a home screen that's accessed from a dedicated Home button on the remote. Here you can enter the main setup menu, where you'll find the comprehensive picture controls that include a colour management system as well as white balance settings.
The menus make heavy use of colour and graphics, so they're very easy on the eye. We also like the way LG has included a picture wizard that makes it easy for even those with limited technical knowledge to correctly tweak the contrasts, brightness and colour settings.
We've got no complaints about the electronic programme guide (EPG) either. It may only show five channels' worth of programming data at a time, but the large font used to show programming data and the crisp, clean layout makes it a pleasure to use. It's speedy to navigate around as it responds quickly to remote commands.
Digital media and Internet features
This TV's Internet features are also top notch. You access them either by pressing the Home or Premium buttons on the remote. There are apps for a broad range of Internet video services including BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Acetrax, Blinkbox and ITN News, as well as social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
You can download a broad range of additional apps from the app store, ranging from simple games to news and weather apps. Like LG's other high-end TVs, this one has a built-in web browser. It's slightly sluggish to navigate using the remote, however, and it doesn't support Flash, so you can't view videos on many sites.
This model has two USB ports and you can use these to playback a range of digital file formats including MP3 music tracks, JPEG pictures as well as Xvid, DivX and MKV video files. There's also a USB recording feature so you can record directly from the Freeview HD tuner to a USB memory key or hard drive. The TV only has a single tuner, so you can't watch one show while recording another, but it's still a handy feature to have.
When it comes to media streaming, LG has teamed up with a company called. Plex delivers a more pleasing interface for streaming because it automatically categorises your movies and videos and displays poster art as well as text summaries for each file.
The software can be difficult to get running, however, and as it's still in the beta phase, it's rather buggy. LG seems to have dropped support for standard Universal Plug and Play media servers, as the TV wouldn't work with other media servers on our PC and didn't recognise the server in our Iomega NAS drive.
Design and connections
You could argue that all recent LG TVs -- and to a certain extent Samsung -- have started to look the same. You'd probably be right, but when the design blueprint works so well, there's little need to change it. As with many of LG's recent models, this one features a single sheet of glass. The surface of the screen and the bezel blend into one, with a single layer covering both.
The glass surface overhangs the black bezel slightly to create a transparent edge that's easy on the eye. It gives the TV a very contemporary look.
This model feels well built too, thanks to its metal chassis. It's also slim at just 28mm deep, which is remarkable given that it uses direct (rather than edge) LED backlighting. As a result, it'll look great if you leave it perched on its attractive pedestal stand rather than wall mount it.
The remote is long and thin, which helps it feel comfortable to hold in your hand. We also like the large buttons and the way they respond with a slight click as you press them. The layout is generally good, although we would have liked the Info button, which calls up information on the current show you're watching, to be placed more towards the centre of the remote.
In its current position at the bottom of the zapper, it's awkward to reach when you're holding the remote in a normal position.
As with many of the recent large-screen models we've seen, the connections on this model are split between a side-mounted panel and a downward-facing panel on the rear. The rear panel houses the VGA connection, Ethernet socket (Wi-Fi is built-in), as well as Scart, component and composite ports -- the latter three need to be used with small adaptor cables as the chassis is too slim to accommodate full-sized sockets.
The side-mounted panel, meanwhile, houses all four of the set's HDMI ports including one that supports Audio Return Channel for routing HDMI audio to an external amp. This panel also has a Common Interface slot, two USB connectors and a composite input.