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LG 42LH50YD review: LG 42LH50YD

The LG 42LH50YD is a very capable television with a smattering of features, but don't buy it simply for the 200Hz mode.

Ty Pendlebury Editor
Ty Pendlebury has worked at CNET since 2006. He lives in New York City where he writes about streaming and home audio.
Expertise Ty has worked for radio, print, and online publications, and has been writing about home entertainment since 2004. He is an avid record collector and streaming music enthusiast. Credentials
  • Ty was nominated for Best New Journalist at the Australian IT Journalism awards, but he has only ever won one thing. As a youth, he was awarded a free session for the photography studio at a local supermarket.
Ty Pendlebury
4 min read

Design

Compared to some of the crazier designs we'll see from LG this year, the 42LH50YD is relatively sedate. It features a piano-black finish, and a clear plastic trim. The little power bubble at the bottom right has remained, and while it no longer functions as a power switch the mechanical on-off rocker resides behind it. Of course, like most flat panels it's designed to be wall mounted but we did have one problem with the side ports: they're more than a hand-length into the side of the panel. This could make plugging in a USB key or HDMI device a little difficult.

7.5

LG 42LH50YD

The Good

Excellent sound. Superb image processing. Attractive design. Eco-friendly modes.

The Bad

200Hz mode is bad. Poor off-axis viewing.

The Bottom Line

The LG 42LH50YD is a very capable television with a smattering of features, but don't buy it simply for the 200Hz mode.

The remote is, well, an LG remote, which means it's got a faux-leather finish and a friendly appearance.

Features

In answer to Sony's 200Hz challenge, LG has come up with its own feature, which it calls TruMotion. LG's version blends two different technologies to give a motion compensation effect: the first is frame interpolation, inserting an extra "invented" frame to smooth motion blur and judder; and the second is backlight scanning, where the tube behind the screen is "strobed" at a high frequency to animate the scene.

While LG Australia has been quite careful with its "green" marketing this hasn't stopped Korea from pumping out the eco features on its newest crop of televisions. The 42LH50YD is one of the company's most environmentally conscious TVs yet, and includes an Intelligent Sensor to reduce power usage in different lighting conditions, a mechanical power-off switch that "reduces power consumption to almost zero watts", and the ability to turn the screen off and keep the audio running — which can be used to scare burglars when you're not home in the exactly same way that leaving the hallway light on does. Which is to say: not very well.

If it's stats you want then we can tell you that the 42LH50YD is a 42-inch LCD with a 1920x1080 resolution. It has a Super IPS panel for the best combination of image quality, colour accuracy and viewing angles, and an 80,000:1 contrast ratio. Like many modern TVs, the LG features four HDMI ports and a USB port for photos, movies and music.

Performance

Like most TVs, the LG looks best after calibration, and the inclusion of two professional ISF modes is a welcome inclusion. Unlike many competitors (and we're looking at you Samsung), the default settings weren't over-sharpened, and the picture was quite watchable out of the box — as soon as you turn all the unnecessary picture processing off, including TruMotion.

It's been two years since 100Hz modes started appearing on the LCD, and we can say that after looking at the LG no one has perfected this technology. The least of which LG. In fact, up against Sony's Z5500, LG's version looks quite rudimentary. Haloing artefacts are still in evidence when set to "high", and when set to "low" the whole screen jerks and shudders like a galleon in rough seas. Though we tried it with sports, movies, and a couple of talking heads, we didn't find any content that the 200Hz mode suited. It's best turned off.

But it's the other image processing features that are the most impressive part of the LG's performance. The 42LH50YD put in an exemplary performance with the synthetic benchmarks, and aced every test on the HQV Blu-ray. This ability transferred to the opening of the bridge scene on the Mission Impossible III Blu-ray, with no moire on the railings and no extra noise in what is already a grainy picture.

The dynamic contrast level of the LG is rather low in comparison to a screen like the Samsung UA40B7100, and while we don't trust these ratings any more than a door-to-door salesman the lack of true black does show. However, a dark film (both figuratively and literally) like Batman Begins on Blu-ray still looks appropriately moody and full of detail. King Kong on DVD also showed a pleasing amount of contrast and "blacks" instead of "green approximations".

As we mentioned before, one of the benefits of an IPS panel is supposed to be a superior viewing angle, and on models like the Panasonic TX-32LXD80A you get almost plasma-like contrast at extreme angles. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case for the 42LH50YD, and while contrast was consistent across the screen dead on it didn't take much for the screen to lose blacks as you moved to the side. But the upside is that there was very little "backlight clouding" — another common LCD problem — which causes grey splodges across the screen that can discolour pure blacks.

LG has spent a lot of money perfecting the sound quality of its televisions and it shows. The most important thing for a television to reproduce is the human voice, and this the 42LH50YD does very well, as dialogue had a decent weight to it and good intelligibility. The LG was able to convey much of the home theatre excitement in a movie like Mission Impossible 3. Of course, the "Invisible Speaker" system was tuned by an audiophile so we expected it to be capable with music as well. Although it was just a little flabby in the bass. But certainly very easy to listen to, and in concert with the USB playback feature this is a decent way to listen to your music.