The 2009 entry-level LH30 series of LCD TVs re-establishes LG as the king of picture controls. Last year the company offered the most extensive suite of user-menu color adjustments available and this year there's even more to tweak--from gamma targets to color filters to a Picture Wizard, designed for nonexperts, with built-in test patterns that actually work. The end result is highly accurate color. But other major picture quality factors, namely black level and screen uniformity, are generally beyond the reach of even picture controls, and in the LH30's case those two factors weigh heavily. Nonetheless, if you want a high degree of color accuracy and customization in an otherwise basic LCD TV, the LH30 is mighty appealing.
A prominent Energy Saving key on the remote offers easy access to that setting in the quick menu. Somewhat confusingly it calls up the rotary-looking quick menu, set to the energy-saving position, instead of a completely separate energy saving function.
Here's an example of the picture wizard screen for black level, which incorporates an easy-to-use test pattern that yields good results. After going through its patterns we ended up with settings quite similar to the default Expert settings, but the Wizard can enlighten people who aren't familiar with the effects of the basic picture controls.
The Advanced picture controls available in most picture modes are just the tip of the iceberg. They include three color temperature presets, settings for dynamic contrast and color, noise reduction, three levels of gamma, a black level control, wide and standard color spaces, edge enhancement and even an "eye care" setting designed to prevent the screen from being too bright (it's disabled in Vivid and Cinema modes).
The LG's Expert modes, which bear the logo and the input of the Imaging Science Foundation, offer a passel of additional controls. Our favorite, first introduced by LG last year and still exclusive to the company, is a 10-point white balance system that can really help get a more accurate grayscale, in addition to a less extensive 2-point system The company upped the ante for 2009, adding the ability to target a 2.2 gamma, internal test patterns, and even color filters for blue-only, green-only and red-only to help set color balance. A full color management system is also on-tap, and we love the ability apply Expert settings to all inputs or just one at a time.
The company cut corners on the entry-level remote. Our biggest hang-up was lack of a dedicated aspect ratio button, and we couldn't get used to the placement of the menu key to the lower left of the big cursor control. On the other hand we liked the feel and clicking action of the cursor.