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LG LB5D review: LG LB5D


David Katzmaier Editorial Director -- Personal Tech
David reviews TVs and leads the Personal Tech team at CNET, covering mobile, software, computing, streaming and home entertainment. We provide helpful, expert reviews, advice and videos on what gadget or service to buy and how to get the most out of it.
Expertise A 20-year CNET veteran, David has been reviewing TVs since the days of CRT, rear-projection and plasma. Prior to CNET he worked at Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as the Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics. Credentials
  • Although still awaiting his Oscar for Best Picture Reviewer, David does hold certifications from the Imaging Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on display calibration and evaluation.
David Katzmaier
9 min read
Like its cross-peninsula rival Samsung, LG dips its toes in both the plasma and the LCD flat-panel pool. We've had some issues with a couple of previous LG HDTVs we've reviewed, including the DVR-equipped 42LB1DR LCD, which had poorer-than-expected image quality. The DVR-free, 47-inch 47LB5D improves upon those efforts, to be sure, and offers a solid feature set and classy styling.

Although it's all done up in glossy black, like so many other 2007 HDTVs, the LG 47LB5D manages to distinguish itself with a more-sophisticated overall look. The edges of the frame bordering the screen are angled in slightly, there's a subtle strip of gray across the middle, and the speaker bar below the screen is raked back and somehow glossy itself, despite its thousands of tiny holes. The matching glossy-black stand has its own gray accent in an arc around the post, which we initially thought was an indication of a swivel, but no such luck--the LG's stand is fixed.



The Good

Sophisticated styling; accurate color decoding with no red push; comprehensive connectivity including three HDMI inputs and one PC input; generally wide range of picture controls in this HDTV.

The Bad

Produces a light color of black; below-average off-angle viewing characteristics; no backlight control; color temperature controls' range is too narrow.

The Bottom Line

While its picture quality has a hard time keeping up with the pack, the 1080p LG 47LB5D does deliver good looks and plenty of features.

The LG 47LB5D measures 45.1 by 32.5 by 13 inches and weighs 82.7 pounds including the stand. Sans stand, the panel clocks in at 45.1x29.7x4.1 inches and 69.2 pounds.

The slick design extends to the menu system, which consists of a semitransparent block overlaying the picture. The numerous options are easy to access and intuitive to adjust, although we did wish for text explanations of menu items to help flatten the learning curve. We were also annoyed that the menu's left navigation bar remained onscreen during picture adjustments, and that the adjustment sliders themselves didn't drop to the bottom on the screen.

LG trots out its standard remote with the 47LB5D, although the clicker has some head-scratching options. For example, we didn't understand the presence of a secondary brightness control--separate from the main brightness control in the menu--controlled by prominent "plus" and "minus" buttons flanking the main menu key. The only purpose it serves is to make picture adjustment that much more confusing. We'd also liked to have seen more-useful functions, like the button that scrolls through picture modes, moved from under the slide-down hatch to a more accessible position. The clicker can command four other pieces of gear, and only the keys to access different devices are backlit.

As LG's "Full HD 1080p" logos proclaim, the 47LB5D has a native resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels, known to most TV shoppers as 1080p. This should allow it to resolve every last pixel of 1080i and 1080p sources, although since the LG lacks a "dot-by-dot" aspect ratio mode, it cannot actually do so in practice. All sources, whether HDTV, DVD, standard-def TV, or computer, are scaled to fit the available pixels.

Picture controls on the LG 47LB5D are fairly complete, although we really missed a dedicated backlight control and, for that matter, the energy-saving control that's become increasingly common among all newer HDTVs (read more on TV power consumption). This set does boast a ton of picture presets, however, so it deserves to have them all listed: Intelligent Eye, Dynamic, Standard, Mild, User1, User2, Expert1, and Expert 2. Fortunately "Intelligent Eye" does not summon the Eye of Sauron from The Lord of the Rings; it simply engages a sensor that detects room lighting and adjusts the picture accordingly. Although the secondary brightness control affects all of the presets, User1 and User2 are the only ones that can be fully adjusted. Since they're both independent per input, you can set up custom settings for two different users, lighting conditions, and so on for every source--a great boon for picture tweakers.

A few other adjustments are available on the LG, starting with red, green, and blue controls to help fine-tune color temperature. You can also choose from three color temperature presets, of which "warm" came closest to the standard. A trio of On/Off selections can be found under the "XD" heading: XD Contrast, which we left off for better shadow detail; XD Color, which we left off for slightly better primary colors and color decoding; and XD Noise, which we'll cover in the Performance section. There's a control for Black Level that we left in Low, for deeper blacks, and a Cinema 3:2 mode that engaged 2:3 pull-down detection.

LG doesn't offer quite as many aspect ratio mode choices as in previous years, although the selection is still ample. We counted four modes with high-def sources, along with a fifth called "Set by program" that attempts to adjust aspect automatically. The same five selections are available with 480i standard-def sources but, as further proof that everything with HDTV is mysteriously complex, for some reason there are only two choices available with 480p. Using 480p means you can't choose "Set by program" or either of the two Zoom modes.

Like many other HDTV makers in 2007, LG decided to add a third HDMI port, a move we applaud. The rest of its rear-panel connectivity is pretty standard, including a pair of component-video inputs, a VGA-style PC input (1,920x1,080 maximum resolution), one standard AV input with a choice of composite or S-video, and a single RF input for antenna or cable. In an unusual move, LG included both types of digital audio output--optical and the rare coaxial--for the built-in ATSC tuner. There's a small bay on the left side of the panel that houses another AV input with composite and S-Video along with a USB port. It might be difficult to access in some wall-mount configurations, however, because it's set about six inches in from the edge of the TV.

The LG offers three HDMI inputs.

The LG's list of conveniences doesn't include picture-in-picture. On the other hand, that side USB port does allow you to jam in a thumbdrive or a card reader and enjoy the fruits of its digital media--namely, JPEG image files and MP3 music files--on the TV.

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



Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 5