Editors' note: The rating on this review has been lowered because of changes in the competitive marketplace.
LG has been quietly gaining market share producing both plasma and LCD flat-panel HDTVs over the last couple of years, but there's nothing quiet about the LG60 series. The 47-inch 47LG60 reviewed here incorporates two unique design quirks that basically scream "look at me!" among the rows of nearly indistinguishable HDTVs. The first is a hole punched in the bottom of the frame, and the second is a fire-engine-red backside. The company also provided arguably the most complete set of picture adjustments we've ever seen, but unfortunately the picture itself doesn't quite measure up. The 47LG60 we tested couldn't produce nearly the same depth of black we've come to expect from high-end LCD and plasma HDTVs in this price range. There's plenty to like about the 47LG60, but the company has a bit more work to do before it can break into the ranks of the LCD elite.
In case you didn't notice, there's a big hole in the cabinet of the LG 47LG60. When the product was first introduced at CES, we "poked" a little fun at the hole, so don't be surprised when visitors who see the TV perched in your living room do the same. That original version didn't plug the hole with a pane of clear plastic bearing the LG logo, but unfortunately for hole purists, this one does (maybe to avoid trapping young children's exploring hands). The puncture is ringed with red (power off) or white (power on) light, and you can turn the intensity down or off, or even flash between both colors in demo mode, as is your wont.
LG's styling veers even further off the beaten path with a bright red backside, joined by a thin red accent running along the bottom edge of the semicircular, chrome-topped (!) swiveling pedestal stand. The TV also has a much wider lower lip--the area of the frame below the screen--than most flat-panel sets. The end result of all this path-veering is a striking design package that trumpets to all who see it that the 47LG60 isn't like every other HDTV. We liked the look better than Samsung's "Touch of Color" mainly because the red isn't as visible, and overall the 47LG60 makes quite an impression when turned off.
On the downside, its big lip makes it even taller than a typical 50- or 52-inch set. Including stand the 47LG60 measures 45.4 by 31.8 by 12.8 inches and weighs 85.1 pounds. Without the stand it shrinks to 45.4 by 29 by 4.1 inches and 77 pounds.
LG's remote is disappointing especially for such an otherwise well-designed HDTV. We found the cluster of similar buttons around the cursor control difficult to differentiate without constantly having to look down at them. A little illumination would have gone a long way. We were also really annoyed that LG neglected to include a dedicated button to toggle between aspect-ratio settings, instead including a "Simplink" key for compatible HDMI-connected gear that most people will never use. The remote can command three other pieces of equipment beyond the television itself.
The company has completely overhauled its menu system from last year, and the changes are mostly for the better. The stark black-on-light-gray menus are legible and large, and we liked that the input menu, which is arranged horizontally, grouped active inputs near the left where they were easy to select quickly. We would have liked to see text explanations accompany menu items, and navigating the extensive Expert menu (see below) can be quite tedious, but overall we liked the simple arrangement. We also appreciated the Quick Menu, which allows control of aspect ratio, picture presets, and other options without having to deal with the full menu system.
Like higher-end LCDs from many companies this year, the 47LG60 includes 120Hz processing, which LG calls TruMotion. The basic idea is to double the rate at which the moving image is refreshed onscreen, which should clean up blurring in fast-moving objects. LG also adds de-judder processing to smooth out motion, which on this model comes in both Low and High varieties. For more on 120Hz, check out Fully Equipped, and of course details on how the 47LG60's processing tacks up can be found in the Performance section. Like most bigger-screen LCDs lately, the LG also has 1080p native resolution.
LG blessed the 47LG60 with the most versatile and tweak-friendly picture setting memory system we've seen on any HDTV. Each of the seven (!) picture modes is adjustable and independent per input. With the 10 input sources we counted, that's 70 different memory "banks" to store picture settings. We can't imagine anyone using all of those, but just having the option to create multiple custom picture settings that are all remembered per input warms our tweaker heart. We also liked that all five of the main picture modes indicate whether they're at default or custom settings with the presence or absence of "(User)" printed after the mode name.
Two of the modes, aptly dubbed Expert, allow the full range of picture settings. The 47LG60 has a more comprehensive color temperature adjustment than any HDTV we've tested, moving beyond the three presets with both 2-point and 10-point adjustment options. The latter allows calibrators to really home in on the D6500 standard and create a more-linear grayscale than would otherwise be possible. Expert also adds a full color management system for tuning the primary and secondary color points, again a boon for careful calibrators. A raft of other adjustments are available too, the most important of which includes gamma and noise reduction. Performance has the details below, as well as our complete picture settings.
Additional extras include a USB port that allows the set to display digital photos on the big screen and play music via the speakers. LG included neither picture-in-picture nor a handy way to adjust the TV's energy consumption; there's no "energy saver" mode available.
The company did include a fairly complete selection of jacks, but standard-def video inputs are sparse; there are no S-Video inputs and just one composite input. The back panel sports three ports for HDMI, two inputs for component video, one for analog VGA connections from PCs (1,920x1,080 maximum resolution), and one for RF antenna or cable. The side-input panel adds a fourth HDMI jack and the sole AV input with composite video, along with that USB port.
The picture quality on the LG 47LG60 was quite good, but not up to the standards of the best LCD and plasma sets we've tested, mainly due to its inability to produce a very deep shade of black. High points included accurate color after calibration and a matte screen to reduce the negative impact of brightly-lit rooms.
With all of LG's picture settings our standard calibration took a good deal longer than usual, but the results were excellent. The 2-point grayscale adjustment system worked very well, but there were some inconsistencies afterwards, which is normal in any calibration that adjusts only bright ("gain") and dark ("cut") ends of the scale. So we used the 10-point system, and achieved the most-linear grayscale we've seen yet--the average variation afterward, as the Geek Box indicates, was just 25K. We also utilized the color management system to improve the color points, especially green, without compromising color decoding. Our full picture settings include both 2-point and 10-point grayscale calibrations, as well as primary and secondary color tweaks, for your dialing-in pleasure. Note, as always, that we used specialized equipment to achieve these improvements, and the LG's more advanced settings won't be much help to people who don't have such gear and training.
For our comparison, we rounded up the Sony KDL-46XBR4 and the Samsung LN52A650--both 120Hz LCDs--as well as our current reference displays, namely the Pioneer PDP-5080HD and the Sony KDS-55A3000. We checked out Alien vs. Predator: Requiem via the Sony PlayStation 3.