There's fierce competition in the flat-panel world between LCD and plasma, and the once stratospheric pricing of both these product categories is now merely expensive. We still see significant differences between the two technologies, however, and in general, we prefer plasma for value (price per inch of screen) and home-theater image quality. LCD, on the other hand, has a reputation for being more robust, although in reality the danger of damaging a plasma during normal use is minimal. LG's DU-42LZ30 is one of the new crop of large-screen flat-panel LCD HDTVs, acquitting itself well in terms of picture quality, especially compared to other LCDs. Although it does carry a $7,000 list price, we were able to find it for less than $5,000 online, making it a relatively good value for a flat-panel LCD.
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A strip of transparent, tinted glass lines the bottom of the frame. In the midst of the glass, an LED readout and a series of icons light up and tell you information about current input, sound mode, and other details. An option in the menu lets you switch off these lights for nighttime viewing.
LG's internal menu system is quite simple and easy to navigate. The remote control is on the large side, extremely comprehensive in terms of its functionality, and partially backlit. It's also a universal model, capable of controlling five other A/V components.
This LCD comes with a removable stand, and optional wall mounts are available. The panel measures about 48 by 30 by 10 inches (WHD) with stand and 5.3 inches deep without--a bit deeper than most plasmas.LG bestowed a broad feature set on its panel, although the newest add-ons, such as an HDMI input and digital cable ready CableCard slot, are absent. The DU-42LZ30 does possess a built-in HDTV tuner, so you can watch over-the-air high-def by connecting a simple antenna.
The panel has a native resolution of 1,366x768, which makes it capable of fully resolving a 720p HDTV source (see Performance for more). Even the highest-resolution plasmas fall short of this number--one of the clear advantages of LCD. Naturally, the LG can display just about anything, including 1080i HDTV, standard-def, and computer sources.
Tops on the convenience list is the dual tuner PIP (picture-in-picture), complete with POP and side-by-side modes. Aspect ratio choices are impressive: you get five modes (all but one works with HD sources), plus a sixth that offers 16 levels of magnification. Conveniently, the set includes independent input memories and six video presets.
LG claims its XD processing engine will greatly improve standard-definition video signals from cable TV and satellite, but we found that for the best performance with high-resolution video sources like DVD and HDTV, XD should be turned off. There are also three selectable color temperatures (Warm, Medium, and Cool) with Warm being the closest to the NTSC standard of 6,500K.