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LG LH30 review: LG LH30

LG LH30 series
The back panel offers 2 HDMI, one component-video and one PC input, although S-Video goes missing.

LG LH30 series
The side panel input bay includes a third HDMI and a second AV input with composite video.

Connectivity is basic with the exception of an RS-232 control port, which isn't standard equipment on an entry-level 1080p TV. The back panel offers two HDMI ports, a component-video input, an AV input with composite video, a RF input for antenna or cable, an RGB-style analog PC input, and an optical digital audio output. Around the left side you'll find a third HDMI input as well as a second AV input with composite video. Our one complaint is the lack of any S-Video inputs.

As we mentioned at the top the LH30's Achilles' heels are lighter black levels and subpar uniformity and off-angle viewing. Color accuracy, helped by all of those picture adjustments, is a major plus.

TV settings: LG 42LH30
Thanks to Expert mode, we achieved better results from our calibration than we've seen on any HDTV in a long time. We were able to target our preferred dark-room light output at 40footlamberts (137 nits) via the Luminance function and easily achieve a nearly perfect 2.19 gamma (the target is 2.2). The grayscale stayed quite linear from dark to light, although there were a couple of fluctuations we couldn't smooth out completely despite the 10-point adjustment. The color management system let us improve the already-accurate primaries and secondaries to near perfection without compromising color decoding, which was itself easy to adjust for and tweak using the color filter. In short, the extensive and well-designed calibration tools on the LH30, which will be included on most LG TVs this year, are in a class of their own.

We also checked out the Picture Wizard. 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. Our custom calibration described above yielded a more accurate picture, primarily because the wizard can't help fine-tune the grayscale, but nonetheless users might find it handy for setting up alternate picture modes, for example, such as one for brighter-room viewing. A good calibration disc will outdo the Wizard in most areas, but of course the Wizard is free. And one word of warning: The Wizard automatically saves its settings to the Expert 1 mode, which can overwrite your custom settings. We recommend using Expert 2 as your primary picture-setting bank.

Our comparison involved the 42-inch Panasonic TC-P42S1, which costs about as much as the LG, in addition to a couple of larger sets, the Samsung LN52A650 LCD and our reference Pioneer PRO-111FD. Most of our image quality tests were based on observations of "The Passion of the Christ" on Blu-ray.

Black level: Despite all of those controls, the essential black level performance of the LG 42LH30 left something to be desired. During the initial scenes in the garden, or example, dark areas like the letterbox bars, the trees and the dark garb of the disciples appeared lighter and ore washed-out than on any of the other displays. Details in shadows, such as the side of Christ's bearded face as he prays, also appeared a bit less distinct than on the Panasonic plasma, although they were still quite realistic and looked slightly better than the Samsung LCD.

Color accuracy: Post-calibration, the LH30 performed well in this regard, with the exception of blacks and very dark areas, which bore the characteristic bluish tinge we've seen on many LCD displays. In brighter areas colors stayed true. During the graphic scourging scene, for example, the soldiers' red cloaks, the pale face of Mary as she looks on in horror and the battered body of Jesus looked nearly as painfully realistic as they did on our reference display. The neutral light-brown tones of Jerusalem--a testament to the LG's linear grayscale--and the hazy blue twilight in the garden appeared natural as well, the latter in contrast to the green-tinted Panasonic S1. The LG's image wasn't as rich or as saturated as we saw on the other displays, however, a difference we attribute to the LH30's lighter black levels.

Video processing: The LG resolved every detail of 1080i and 1080p still sources, as expected, and while it handled 1080i video-based deinterlacing well, it failed to deinterlace 1080i film-based sources. The LH30 also scored a bit worse on our motion resolution test than most 60Hz LCDs we've tested, barely hitting 300 lines, and naturally 120Hz and higher refresh-rate TVs will do even better.

LG also includes a "real cinema" mode that supposedly introduces a smoothing effect, according to the manual, but we didn't any obvious smoothing in our tests--nor could we get the setting to appear anything other than grayed-out and set to "On." We have a question in to LG on the matter, and if they get back to us, we'll update this review.

Uniformity: The LH30 did not excel in this category. The sides of the image appeared darker and very slightly green-tinged compared with the middle, and we could see some variations in brightness, especially a pair of subtly brighter vertical bars in the middle of the screen. These issues appeared in flat fields mostly, such as the blue sky above Golgatha, the white overcast seen from Jesus' point of view as he slumped from the cross and the light sandy street where he lay afterward. When seen from off-angle the LG lost fidelity more quickly than did the Samsung, becoming more washed out and slightly discolored in dark areas and darker in bright areas.

Bright lighting: In a brighter room the LG did a good job attenuating ambient light and reducing reflections. It didn't preserve black levels from washing out as well as the Samsung LCD did, but it lacked that set's obvious reflections and maintained deeper blacks than the Panasonic plasma.

Standard-definition: The LG turned in an average standard-definition performance. It resolved every line of the DVD format, as expected, and details in the stone bridge and grass were relatively sharp. We did see a few more jaggies on the moving diagonal lines and the stripes on an American flag than were present on the Samsung, but the LG outdid the Panasonic on these tests. The three levels of noise reduction worked well, cleaning up even the noisiest shots of skies and sunsets, and film mode kicked in quickly to engage 2:3 pull-down and remove moire from the grandstands behind the speeding car.

The LH30 series functions very well as a big computer monitor. Via both HDMI and analog VGA, it resolved every line of a 1,920x1,080 source with no overscan or edge enhancement.

Before color temp (20/80) 6969/7076 Average
After color temp 6556/6519 Good
Before grayscale variation 465 Average
After grayscale variation 52 Good
Color of red (x/y) 0.633/0.333 Good
Color of green 0.309/0.587 Good
Color of blue 0.151/0.065 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:
CNET did not test the power consumption of this TV, but we did test another size, the LG 42LH30. See that review for more information.

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