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LG 47LY3DE review: LG 47LY3DE

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The Good Good picture. Expandable storage. Input detection.

The Bad Unable to replay recordings anywhere else. Fiddly EPG. Complicated, piano-black remote.

The Bottom Line The LG 47LY3DE does without some of the niceties of some of the cutting edge sets, but this is a competent TV with a handy onboard recorder.

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7.6 Overall

Well known for its quirky advertising campaigns, LG takes the "onboard tuna" concept one step further with the new 47LY3DE television. But can you throw away your VCR yet?

Design
Oh no, another piano black TV. Thank God for Philips and Sony we say -- two companies determined not to follow the herd. Even so, the LG isn't that bad looking. It follows the design cues begun with the LG 42LC2D which bagged the company a Red Dot Design Award. While cosmetically attractive, the company still doesn't seem to have learned from past mistakes on the useability front: the auxiliary and USB ports are still rear-facing. This means the moment you hang this TV on a wall they are no longer accessible.

The remote is another piano black number and is unfortunately one of the more confused we've seen. There are buttons everywhere! One unusual key in particular was the dedicated brightness button smack bang in the middle of where you put your hands. We can't imagine it getting used very often, but it's probably to compensate for the fact that it can't adjust to ambient light levels like some other TVs.

Features
Of course, the 47LY3DE's major selling point is its onboard Digital Video Recorder (DVR) featuring dual high-def tuners. For storage purposes, the TV comes with a relatively small 160GB drive, but thankfully there is an option to connect your own drive for more storage. To go with the recorder LG offers a seven-day EPG which given the recent availability of a local guide, means you can manage your week of viewing in one sitting.

Connecting a drive to the TV and reformatting will, for all intents and purposes, make this drive fairly useless for anything other than backing up your TV programs. Windows won't recognise it, and it will require some fairly ugly hacking to get it back in useable shape. Moral: buy a dedicated drive for this purpose.

Given that the LG puts a significant amount of cost into the DVR, there are few other high-end features. For example, there is no support for 100Hz judder-reducing technology, and similarly no 24p.

Performance
The telly's onboard tuners were generally excellent. Even the analog tuner did a good job of extracting the noise from local broadcasts and presenting a detailed picture. The standard- and high-def tuners were also good, and certainly the equal of our standalone Topfield set-top box.

If we had any troubles it was with the LG's integration of the DVR. While the inclusion of an EPG was a no-brainer, it doesn't work very well. Firstly, unlike similar DVRs such as Foxtel iQ it's not possible to peruse the channel guide and choose the channel you want to watch -- you need to first exit the guide and manually change the channel. Also, the guide info only appears for the channel you are currently on -- which for Channel 10 meant a whole week, while for SBS and ABC only a day.

We contacted LG about this problem and this was their response: "A firmware update for that model is being developed to enable multiple channel data to be displayed, but not yet available. All future models will have this functionality."

The other minor problem we found was that although the recorder offers dual tuners you can only record one station at once, and of course watch another. Despite these hiccups, our recording of the series return of Lost found the detail and colour levels to be very good, and fast-forwarding through ads was a snap.

Changing inputs on the LG -- say between TV and an HDMI-connected DVD player -- is very easy. The TV detected all the peripherals we'd attached and pressing the AV button brought up a list with the inactive ports greyed out. Pressing AV again cycled the input to the next active one.

Standard definition was relatively good, although the tough King Kong disk did prove tricky for the LG. The TV uses the older, but still reliable, Faroudja DCDi chipset to remove noise from images, and this it does well and without artefacting.

High definition replay was also impressive, with decent black levels and natural colours. Detail levels on the Mission Impossible III BD were very good, and we've only seen keener from Sony and Samsung's premier models. One unusual problem emerged when connecting our PlayStation 3, however. Whenever the player was paused, a pulsing sound would come through the speakers -- a little like a Geiger counter. Our Denon DVD test machine had no such issues.

Conclusion
We've seen the 47LY3DE for under AU$3,500 online and for the price it is a good deal. Sure you go without some of the niceties of some of the cutting edge sets, but this is a competent TV with a handy onboard recorder.

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