Like its 32-inch sibling, LG's 42LT75 carries Freeview Playback: our digital terrestrial service's long overdue answer to Sky's sublime Sky+ digital recording system. But for around £830, does the new functionality add anything truly significant to the Freeview proposition, or is it just a gimmick?
First things first: its combination of a sultry gloss-black finish and seriously delectable curves make the 42LT75 a real sight.
Its innards are even more interesting. Tucked away inside the set's slender LCD frame, alongside two digital tuners, an analogue tuner and all the usual LCD picture-making 'stuff', is a 160GB HDD drive. This really is surprisingly substantial for what is and should be sufficient to store around 60 hours of digital recordings or between 45 and 90 hours of analogue recordings.
Why the different maximum recording times? In the digital tuner's case, the 42LT75 records the digital feed directly, while with analogue sources it has to convert the analogue feed to digital before recording. During this process, the TV helpfully lets you choose between one of two different quality standards: High and Normal, depending on whether you most value picture quality or saving memory with a particular recording.
Freeview Playback brings a few features to the table that are more substantial than you might imagine. The star of the show, without doubt, is Series Link. This feature allows you to set the TV to record a whole series automatically. While it's dependent on broadcasters providing the necessary information, apparently around 90 per cent of Freeview channel providers are already onboard.
You also get the facility to link split recordings, such as when a film is broken by a news broadcast. Plus, the TV allows you to record one digital channel while watching another, and you can pause live TV and 'chase' live playback.
What makes all this even more pleasing on the 42LT75 is how profoundly easy all the various recording features are to access. Realising that the 42LT75 is likely to appeal to relatively un-technical people -- after all, tech-heads will doubtless already have at least Sky+ and probably a Sky HD box by now -- LG has clearly put enormous effort into designing the set's operating system. The result is that it shouldn't take long at all before even the most technophobic of users will be making and manipulating digital recordings as if they've done it all their lives.
The last bit of good news about the 42LT75 is, thankfully, its picture quality. Previous LG LCD TVs have really struggled showing standard definition sources, but here, the brand really seems to have got its act together. Pictures from the digital tuner look clean, reasonably sharp, richly coloured and naturally toned -- among the best we've seen on an LCD TV, in fact.
We can only imagine that in working so hard on the Freeview Playback element of the 42LT75, LG also finally got round to tweaking its image processing to optimise it for the UK's digital broadcasting service. Plus, it should be said, the set's HD pictures aren't bad either.
Some people may be disappointed to discover that the 42LT75 is not a 'Full HD' screen. We'd argue that this isn't necessarily the negative it might first appear, since the set's lower 720p resolution is potentially more in tune with the standard definition of the Freeview service the TV is so interested in.
One definite genuine weakness, though, is the way the set's pictures lose contrast and colour if watched from much of an angle at all. This is a common failing of LCD technology, but we've seen recent sets from other brands deliver much wider realistic viewing angles than is possible with the 42LT75.
Our other concern is that the digital signal appears to lose strength as it passes from the TV's first digital tuner to the second one. It's entirely possible that if you live in an area of borderline digital reception, you might get a solid picture on the first tuner, but suffer break up or even total signal loss on the second tuner. We'd advise you to be sure your digital reception is good before splashing out on a 42LT75.
LG's 42LT75 certainly won't be for everyone. Anyone with or wanting Sky, for instance, would be better with a Sky+ box and a different telly. But for the millions of households out there yet to 'go digital' in any way, shape or form, the 42LT75 really is a great -- and surprisingly affordable -- way to upgrade ahead of the great analogue switch off.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday