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If you can't quite stretch to the high asking price of LG's top-of-the-line Infinia tellies, then you might want to take a look at the 47-inch, 1080p 47LX6900 LCD TV. It doesn't just offer a large amount of screen real estate for a relatively low price tag of around £1,400. It also packs in 3D support, LED edge lights, and LG's improved Netcast service, which now supports BBC iPlayer.
The 47LX6900 may lack the 'single sheet of glass' design of LG's higher-end Infinia sets, but it's still a great-looking TV. LG has decked it out with a transparent trim that blends in seamlessly with the rest of the glossy black bezel. As it uses LED edge lights, the TV is supremely slim too, measuring a mere 30mm thick. Even the stand looks classy.
The 47LX6900 offers all the connections you'd want to see on a new TV. There are four HDMI ports -- one of which is side-mounted for easy access -- along with a set of component inputs, a Scart socket and a PC input. You'll also find an Ethernet port around the back, and two USB ports on the side.
The Ethernet port can be used either for streaming movies, photos and music from a PC or for accessing LG's Netcast service. Streaming support is first-class, as the set will play MKV video, along with older formats, like Xvid and DviX.
LG has also upped its game when it comes to its Netcast offering. Previously this only included a rather limited range of services, such as YouTube and AccuWeather, but it now supports many more, including BBC iPlayer and the Acetrax movies-on-demand service. All in all, it's now a pretty comprehensive line-up, and Netcast equals the best offerings of other manufacturers' Internet-enabled TVs.
As you'd expect on a set in this price range, the 47LX6900 includes a Freeview HD tuner so you can use it to watch high-definition channels like BBC One HD and ITV1 HD, alongside all the standard-definition Freeview channels. Unlike many of Panasonic's TVs, however, it doesn't include a freesat HD tuner as well. Nevertheless, the set's electronic programme guide is pleasantly presented, with large, easy-to-read text. It can be navigated speedily too.
The menu system is identical to that found on other TVs in LG's current line-up. That's no bad thing, as it's among the best in the business. It's presented as a series of large, colourful icons that you can drill into to access the TV's comprehensive picture and audio controls. For example, when you switch to the 'expert' mode, you're given access to gamma controls, as well as individual contrast and brightness controls for RGB colours.
This TV's key feature is its 3D support. It relies on active 3D glasses and only one set is included in the box. Extra pairs of specs will set you back around £100. The glasses are reasonably comfortable to wear and can be recharged via the set's USB ports.
As with many edge-lit 3D LCD TVs, the 47LX6900 produces very bright images, so, even taking into account the dimming effect of the glasses, pictures still look very punchy in 3D -- much more so than on many 3D plasma sets. Despite this, though, we weren't overly impressed with its 3D performance, as images tend to suffer quite badly from cross-talk, whereby objects in the middle and far distance display ghosting around the edges. It's much more noticeable than on some of Samsung's 3D LCD sets, so it's definitely an area that LG needs to work on.
The TV does a much better job with normal 2D material, especially when dealing with high-definition sources. The impressive brightness levels help colours to really jump out at you from the display. Movies on Blu-ray and HD channels on Freeview show off just how good the TV is at rendering fine detailed in hi-def sources. Also, the 200Hz processing helps to keep motion blur to within acceptable limits. Although some judder creeps in here than there, it's never a major problem.
There are some areas where the TV's 2D performance could be better, though. The first is its black-level performance. Although the set includes LED dimming technology, the dimming engine produces noticeable patches of grey around areas where it's active. As a result, it's often best to turn it off altogether in the picture menu. But, when you do turn it off, it becomes noticeable that the set isn't quite capable of producing blacks as deep as many other TVs in this price bracket.
Another issue is that the set's standard-definition performance isn't exactly top-notch. For example, standard-definition channels on Freeview tend to look soft, and the 47LX6900 doesn't smooth out MPEG artefacts as well as many of Panasonic's TVs. Colours also look noticeably more muted when you switch to watching standard-definition images after HD ones.
Despite the set's slim chassis, its audio performance isn't too bad. It can't exactly produce earth-shattering levels of bass, but dialogue has a good presence, thanks to its beefy mid-range performance.
The LG 47LX6900 definitely has its strengths. It produces sharp and punchy HD pictures, has great Internet and media-streaming features, and its design is very classy. But its SD performance is rather lacklustre and 3D images suffer from far too much cross-talk for our liking.
Edited by Charles Kloet