LG LH55 review:


Connectivity is fairly extensive on the LH55, beginning with four total HDMI ports--three on the back and one on the side. The back panel also offers two component-video inputs, an AV input with composite video, a RF input for antenna or cable, an RGB-style analog PC input, an optical-digital-audio output, and an RS-232 port for custom installations. In addition to the fourth HDMI port, the side panel has a second AV input with composite video and a USB port for display of digital photos and playback of MP3 music files. Our one connectivity complaint is the lack of any S-Video inputs.

The LH55 series can deliver excellent color accuracy, a positive trait balanced by less-impressive black-level performance. Its 240Hz processing reduces blur better than 120Hz displays, but not as well as some other 240Hz models, for what it's worth, and off-angle performance was below average.

TV settings: LG 42LH55
All of those picture settings really helped nail the LG's calibration. Prior to our adjustments, the display's Movie mode came closest to our ideal settings, although it was a bit too dim (33 ftl) and too blue up and down the grayscale. After making all those adjustments, the grayscale was superb in all but the darkest areas, gamma came close to the 2.2 ideal at an average of 2.16, and light output hit our nominal 40ftl level. We didn't need to tweak primary colors or color decoding much, although we couldn't resist making those already-close parameters even closer.

Our comparison involved a few other 240Hz LCDs, including the Toshiba 47ZV650U, the Samsung LN52B750 and the Sony KDL-52XBR9, as well as a couple of plasmas, the Panasonic TC-P46G10 and our reference Pioneer PRO-111FD. This round of image quality tests was conducted with the help of scenes from "Step Brothers" on Blu-ray.

Black level: The LH55 produced a lighter shade of black that, as usual, robbed the image of some of the punch and impact seen on most of the other displays. The difference was most visible in darker scenes, such as the nighttime car ride home from Derek's birthday party, where the guys' dark suits, the shadows inside the car and the letterbox bars all appeared a noticeably lighter shade than on the other plasmas and LCDs, with the exception of the Toshiba, which was slightly lighter than the LG. Shadow detail, such as the outline of the car in the dark driveway or the bark of the tree in the yard, also suffered a bit--although, to be fair, the LG's shadow detail looked as good as can be expected given the lighter black levels.

Color accuracy: In most scenes, especially brighter ones, the LG's color looked superb. When Alice accosts Dale in the men's room, for example, her skin tone looked flush enough but certainly not ruddy, and thankfully without the greener tinge seen on the Panasonic. The green of the grass under the For Sale sign and the plants downtown appeared true compared with our reference, as did the other primary and secondary colors. The LG's imperfect blacks did contribute to a less saturated look than we saw on the other displays, but our biggest complaint on the color accuracy front was the LG's blue tinge to blacks and very dark shadows. The issue was most obvious in very dark scenes, such as when Brennan buries Dale in the back yard, and the blue was more pronounced than on any of the other displays, including the Toshiba.

Video processing: With the LG's "TruMotion 240Hz" processing set to either Low or High mode, the LH55 resolved between 700 and 800 lines of motion resolution according to our test. The test pattern didn't show the same sort of interference and breakup we saw on the Toshiba. If you're keeping track, we saw between 900 and 1000 lines from the Sony and Samsung 240Hz displays we tested, and even more from the Panasonic plasma. Disabling the LG's processing caused the test to register between 300 to 400 lines, which is typical of a 60Hz LCD. Of course, in our experience, the blurring seen in test patterns, despite the large differences in the motion resolution, is quite difficult to perceive in real-world program material. As we noted above, it's impossible to get the improved motion resolution of the antiblur effect without also engaging dejudder processing.

We've never been fans of the overt smoothing effect of dejudder, and while we understand some viewers might like it, we feel it makes film-based sources look too much like video. The LG is no exception. During the car ride home, for example, the motion seemed too video-like even in the Low setting, which was about the equivalent of Standard on the Sony and Samsung. Artifacts in Low mode weren't very common, which is a good thing, but in High they appeared more frequently. One example came during the first awkward dinner, when Brennan got up from the table and his fast-moving arm created a sort of halo or trail in the background. This issue was slightly less-obvious than a similar artifact we saw on the Sony and Samsungs in High and Smooth modes, but in any case, we recommend leaving the TruMotion 240Hz setting turned off for films.

We did appreciate the LG's Real Cinema setting, however, which functioned as advertised to preserve the true frame rate of film. We set our Blu-ray player to 1080p/24 output mode, turned the Real Cinema setting on and fed the LG our favorite test clip for evaluating film cadence, the helicopter flyover of the Intrepid from "I Am Legend." The LH55 showed the proper amount of judder without the slight hitching motion characteristic of 2:3 pulldown, which returned when we set Real Cinema to Off.

Finally, the LH55 series delivered every line of static resolution and properly de-interlaced video-based sources, but, like other LG sets we've reviewed (and unlike most other current 1080p HDTVs), it failed to properly de-interlace film-based sources.

Uniformity: The LH55 sample we reviewed exhibited average uniformity across its screen, with slightly darker areas around the edges and corners compared with the middle, but no overly bright spots or visible backlight structure.

When seen from off-angle, the LH55 performed worse than either the Sony or the Samsung, becoming washed-out quite a bit more quickly--at about the same rate as the Toshiba, in fact. The screen didn't discolor too badly when seen from either side of the sweet spot directly in front of the screen, however.

Bright lighting: As a matte-screen display, the LH55 handled ambient lighting better than the shiny-screen Toshiba, Samsung LCDs, and both plasmas. Bright lights in the room weren't reflected as brightly in its screen, and the screen did an adequate job of preserving black levels in the bright room--if not as good as the Samsung.

Standard definition: With standard-def sources, the LG turned in a fine performance. It resolved every line of the DVD format and detail in the grass and the stone bridge was solid. Jaggies were kept to a minimum and the waving American flag looked smooth. Noise reduction worked well to remove moving motes from the skies and sunsets, and we appreciated that 2:3 pulldown detection kicked in quickly and effectively to remove moire from the grandstands behind the racecar.

PC: The LH55 series delivered every line of resolution from a 1920x1080 PC input with no overscan or edge enhancement via both HDMI and VGA. The latter input showed some interference in the highest-frequency test patterns, and text appeared a bit softer than via HDMI, but it was still better than many VGA sources we've seen.

Before color temp (20/80) 6499/7375 Average
After color temp 6575/6464 Good
Before grayscale variation 621 Poor
After grayscale variation 51 Good
Color of red (x/y) 0.636/0.331 Good
Color of green 0.291/0.605 Good
Color of blue 0.146/0.059 Good
Overscan 0.0% Good
Defeatable edge enhancement Y Good
480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps Pass Good
1080i video resolution Pass Good
1080i film resolution Fail Poor

Power consumption: We did not test the power use of this size TV in the LH55 series, although we did test the 42-inch member of the series. For more information, see the review of the LG 42LH55.

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