LG LB5D review:


The picture quality of the LG 47LB5D is about on par with some of the inexpensive models we've tested, but not up to the standards of the better name-brand LCDs. Its biggest failing, as usual for an LCD, is black-level performance.

During our normal course of setting up the display for viewing in our completely dark theater, we tried the various, largely unadjustable picture presets. Mild turned out to be the best choice, as opposed to the two Expert modes, because the latter two evinced overly-bright black levels. We say "largely" because you can adjust black level with the secondary brightness control we mentioned above (in case you're wondering, in both Expert modes, the second-to-darkest step provided the deepest blacks without crushing details in shadows). We also fine-tuned the color temperature with the user-menu controls, but they didn't have enough range to really improve the numbers over the Warm preset (see the Geek box for details). For our full user-menu picture settings, which result in a light output level of about 40 footlambert, check out the Tips & Tricks section.

After setup, we sat down to compare the LG against a few other like-size HDTVs, including the Samsung LN-T4665F and the HP LC4776N--both 1080p LCDs and direct competition against the LG--and our reference Pioneer PRO-FHD1 plasma. For this review we watched the Blu-ray disc of Behind Enemy Lines played on the Samsung BD-P1200 at 1080i resolution.

In dark scenes, like the blue-lit command center of the aircraft carrier, it quickly became apparent that the LG wasn't among the best LCDs at producing a deep shade of black. The shadows and dark curtains in the background, along with the letterbox bars above and below the picture, were all good examples; both the Pioneer and the Samsung produced a significantly deeper black in those areas, as well as in more brightly-lit scenes, such as the black of Gene Hackman's admiral's uniform during his conference with his NATO commander. The LG's black level was about on par with the HP's overall, and toward the bottom of the pack of LCDs we've reviewed recently. Details in shadows, such as the buttons along the edge of the radar screen or the uniforms of the enemy soldiers in their dark bunker, appeared more distinct than with the HP, although they weren't as natural as the other two displays.

Speaking of natural, good black levels also influence color saturation, which is one of the reasons why the LG's color overall lacked the punch of the Samsung and the Pioneer. As Owen Wilson ran through the forest, for example, the underbrush and the green camouflage of his pursuers looked more washed-out and less realistic on the LG than on those other two. The same can be said for Hackman's skin tone when the shot cut back to him inside the command post eyeing Wilson's prone form on satellite. The fact that the LG's color temperature was a bit bluer also made the colors appear slightly cooler than we'd like to see. We did appreciate the LG's accurate color decoding, however: the set didn't evince any red push.

Unlike plasmas, LCDs often have screens that aren't perfectly uniform, and the LG was about average in this regard. With the screen completely black, which occurred during the credits, for example, a few amorphous areas to the sides appeared slightly brighter than the rest of the background. We also saw very faint brighter areas in mid-bright fields, such as when the camera follows the rescue chopper across the sky, but they weren't nearly as obvious as with many other LCDs we've tested. Like the HP, the LG also looked worse than the Samsung when seen from off-angle. Aside from the usual effect--namely, that the image appears progressively more washed-out--we also noticed that when seen from either side, the LG became noticeably discolored, taking on a more reddish/bluish tinge. As usual, the effects of off-angle viewing were even more noticeable from above or below.

The transfer of Behind Enemy Lines has its share of noise and film grain, and the LG reproduced it faithfully without appearing too noisy. Its clean HD image extended to a lack of false contouring, which didn't appear even in difficult transitions like the edges of the shadows along Hackman's fatigues as he brooded in his darkened quarters, or the edges of the lights in the enemy's bunker.

Since it lacks a true "dot-by-dot" aspect ratio mode, we weren't surprised that the 47LB5D failed to resolve every line of a 1080i and 1080p sources from our Sencore signal generator. It also failed to properly de-interlace 1080i film-based material. These issues didn't crop up as particularly important during our viewing session, however. Detailed scenes, like the close-ups of the fine graphics from the satellite or the faint trigger lines in the minefield, looked every bit as sharp on the LG as the other sets.

The LG 47LB5D's standard-definition picture quality, as tested using the HQV DVD played via component-video at 480i resolution, was about average. The set had no trouble resolving every detail on the disc's color bar pattern, but finer details, such as the stones in the bridge and the grass from the Detail test, appeared somewhat soft until we stepped up the Sharpness control, which introduced excessive edge enhancement. We definitely recommend engaging the XD Noise control for low-quality, noisy standard-def material, although on HQV's more difficult, noisiest shots we did wish for a stronger NR option. In its favor, the LG did a fine job of smoothing jagged edges from moving diagonal lines and the stripes of the waving American flag, and it engaged 2:3 pulldown detection quickly once we chose that option in the menu.

As a PC monitor connected via the VGA input, the LG 47LB5D turned in a good--but not great--performance. In its favor, the set accepted a 1,920x1,080 signal without a hitch, and there was no overscan. On the other hand, text looked a bit less sharp than we'd like to see, and the TV's sharpness control couldn't quite strike a perfect balance--text looked either too edge-enhanced or too soft. The problem turned out to be the set's displayed resolution. According to DisplayMate tests, the 47LB5D couldn't resolve every line of horizontal resolution, which contributed to the softer look. Our desktop was still quite legible, of course, but if using your HDTV as a big-screen computer monitor is important to you, there are better choices than this LG.

Before color temp (20/80) 7030/7155K Average
After color temp 6661/7174K Poor
Before grayscale variation +/- 729K Average
After grayscale variation +/- 469K Poor
Color of red (x/y) 0.631/0.337 Average
Color of green 0.279/0.612 Average
Color of blue 0.146/0.055 Good
Overscan 3.8 % Good
Black-level retention Gray pattern stable Average
Defeatable edge enhancement Y Good
480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps Y Good
1080i video resolution Pass Good
1080i film resolution Fail Poor

LG 47LB5D Picture settings
Default Calibrated Power Save
Picture on (watts) 245.85 250.46 N/A
Picture on (watts/sq. inch) 0.26 0.27 N/A
Standby (watts) 0.9 0.9 N/A
Cost per year $75.21 $76.61 N/A
Score (considering size) Good
Score (overall) Average

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