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 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'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.