Review Date: October 19, 2009
 Last Updated: November 1, 2013

BEST LG LCD TV Sets for 2009

An LCD TV Review covering some of the best LG options
for home entertainment: LH50, LH55, and the LH90


LG is definitely one of the fastest growing HDTV brands on the market. During the last few years, LG has been constantly gaining market share in both plasma and LCD HDTV sales, and although it is not one of the giant TV makers, it is not afraid to come up with innovative design concepts at an affordable price.

It is this balanced mix of innovation and affordability that in our opinion represents LG trademark in the HDTV market - with valid TV options rich in cutting-edge features at a price that remains affordable along the full LG HDTV lineup.


Samsung 2013 flagship LED TV with ultimate micro dimming backlight technology

Samsung UN60F8000 60-Inch 1080p 240Hz 3D Ultra Slim Smart LED HDTV

This high-end feature-rich LED LCD TV enjoys superior picture performance for a LED TV. It comes with Samsung's Micro dimming Ultimate LED backlight technology - among the best in its class for black level performance and its ability to deliver subtle shadow detail. It is also the TV with the best feature set.

It is a bit expensive but... if plasma is not for you and still want to enjoy the best picture quality and the latest interactive TV features, the UNF8000 is definitely the TV to go for!

Buy from amazon.com

LG LCD TVs for 2009: Affordable stylish solutions...

For 2009, LG has once again come up with a most complete line of LCD HDTVs spread over 10 different series and ranging from inexpensive entry-level 720p HDTVs to affordable high-end ultra slim LED TVs.

LG HDTVs are characterized by the largest collection of picture controls one can ever find on any HDTV. These range from gamma targets to color filters to a picture adjustment Picture Wizard designed for non-experts, and that come with built-in test patterns as well.

The end result - once calibrated - is a highly accurate color. This high degree of color accuracy and user customization makes even entry-level sets such as the LH30 LG LCD TVs extremely appealing.

Mind you, the LH30 line is quite interesting. These 1080p HDTV sets include 24p (2:2 pulldown) film processing though it does not support 120Hz dejudder processing as present on the more expensive sets.

LH30 HDTVs come with a complete suite of user controls often lacking even on some of the best premium LCDs from other major brands. And their relatively inexpensive price tag makes these LG HDTVs among the best 'cheap 1080p LCD TVs' presently available for home entertainment. We say cheap because the 42-inch LG 42LH30 would not set you back by more than $750, while the largest in this series, the 47-inch LG 47LH30 is presently selling at $1,000. However, despite that the LH30 is a valid 1080p TV option, we believe that LG real edge over the competition comes with the premium series of LG LCD TVs. It is at the higher end of the specs sheet that LG is really able to deliver more for less than the rest.

For the scope of this LCD TV Review, we will therefore be focusing on the three LG series which in our opinion represents the best LG LCD TV options within their respective category. These are the LH50 and the LH55 CCFL-based LG LCD TVs, and LG LH90 LED TV series.

LH50 120Hz 1080p LG LCD TV Series

LG 55LH50 - LG's HDTV with Netflix support

The LH50 LG LCD TV series is the only line of LG LCD TVs that comes with Internet-enabled TV features.

Sizes covered under this series include the LG 42-inch 42LH50 ($860), the 47-inch 47LH50 ($960), and the 55-inch 55LH50 ($1,670).

 

Unlike other major TV makers, LG failed to include Internet TV support on any of its other premium series; in our opinion, this represents LG biggest omission from this year lineup.

But then LG's LH50 HDTVs come with one of the best implementations of IPTV functionality - termed NetCast Entertainment Access. LG NetCast provides the best direct TV-internet experience; it is fast and a joy to use. In comparison, Samsung Medi@2.0 Internet capabilities are somewhat sluggish.

A first for LG is that with NetCast, the user can stream movies, TV shows and videos with Netflix - giving you access to a library of over 15,000 titles. You can also view YouTube videos, and stream Vudu movies in full 1080p HD resolution and 5.1 surround; at present, there are more than 2,000 HD titles to choose from. You also get direct access to Yahoo TV Widgets for up-to-the-minute news, stock information, weather updates, Flickr and much more, without the need for a computer.

The LG LH50 includes 24p Real Cinema 5:5 Pulldown technology which combined with LG TruMotion 120Hz dejudder processing, helps produce sharper images from film based content without the use of 2:3 pulldown processing. LG achieves this by repeating each movie frame five times for every video frame rate at 120 Hz; this eliminates judder completely.

These sets also support 2.7msec pixel response time (gray-to-gray) as against the typical 4msec found on most 120Hz LCD TVs. This faster pixel response on these 120Hz LG LCD TVs is more in line with that of 240Hz LCDs. The result is virtually zero motion blur.

Connectivity is among the best you can find though as is the present trend among TV makers, these LG LCD TVs miss the S-Video input. Overall, connectivity includes four HDMI ver. 1.3 with x.v.Color and CEC (for use with LG SimpLinkTM to control multiple SimpLinkTM devices via the TV remote), one PC VGA type D-sub 15-pin input, two composite video, two component video, and a USB2.0 port for JPEG and MP3 playback. There is also an Ethernet port for broadband LAN connectivity and one digital audio out.

These LH50 LG LCD TVs outdo Energy Star 3.0 requirements and come with a few smart energy saving options. These include three settings for an intelligent sensor that automatically adjusts the brightness level and picture color according to the light present in the room, and a backlight control. Average power consumption is in line with that of similar sets from Samsung (B650) and stands at around 160W for the larger 55-inch TV after calibration.

LG Picture Wizard enables easy self-calibration by providing on-screen reference points for key picture quality elements like black and white levels, color, tint, and vertical and horizontal sharpness. It’s like having a basic calibration disc built into your TV.

Audio comes at 10W RMS per channel and includes SRS TruSurround XTTM for simulated surround sound via the set two-way four speaker system. Speaking of speakers, here is another innovation on part of LG. These LG LCD TVs use what LG calls 'invisible speakers' - originally introduced on 2008 LG HDTVs whereby each speaker is embedded in strategic points behind the front cabinet and use minute vibrations to turn the entire front bezel into a speaker system. This leads to a better quality TV sound than that produced by the down-firing speakers used on most of the competition. In particular, the LG speaker system helps deliver a wider sound field - with sound that appears radiating from the entire front panel.

Pros: Apart from one of the best Internet-enabled TV entertainment implementations, LH50 LG LCD TVs are capable of solid picture performance thanks to their excellent color accuracy and superb shadow detail. As is typical of LG, these sets come with extensive picture controls including LG's unique Picture Wizard. Solid connectivity is complemented by four HDMI and PC input; power requirements outdo Energy Star 3.0 standards.

Cons: As is typical of most HDTVs from LG, LH50 LG LCD TVs produce a rather lighter shade of black in comparison to that of the competition from the leaders in the field. The difference in black level becomes more noticeable from off-angle viewing. We have to add however that the difference in black level performance is one that is mainly noticeable in a side-by-side comparison.

Other minor issues include the absence of an S-video input and failure to handle 1080p/24 content correctly - with a sort of hitching action instead of the smoother action one would normally associate with 120HZ HDTVs. The latter issue can be resolved by switching off LG 24p Real Cinema feature.

The bottom line: Though these sets lack the deep blacks of premium sets from Samsung and Sony, yet LG's LH50 LCD TVs still deliver solid overall picture quality at a price that is considerably below that of the main competition. In addition, these LG LCD TVs come with one of the best Internet-enabled TV entertainment features found on any premium HDTV. This latter feature will surely appeal to the many HDTV consumers looking to enjoy Internet-driven entertainment straight on their TV without the need for an extra PC.

LG LH55 240Hz LCD TVs

LG 55LH55 - LG's HDTV with 240Hz refresh rate

The LH55 LG LCD TV series introduces LG to 240Hz refresh rate dejudder processing.

It  covers four models, the 37-inch 37LH55 ($810), the 42-inch 42LH55 ($950), the 47-inch 47LH55 ($1,300) and the 55-inch 55LH55 ($1,690); the 37-inch model is the smallest 240Hz LCD we have come across so far.

 

Apart from the 240Hz refresh rate upgrade, other features are basically the same to that of the HL50 except that the LH55 does not come with LG NetCast - implying that it does not support internet connectivity.

However, what renders the LH55 LG LCD TV series interesting is the way LG is implementing its 240Hz dejudder processing. Unlike most major TV makers which interpolate three frames every four frames displayed to get the 240Hz refresh rate, LG is using what it calls 'scanning backlight' technology. According to the company, this outperforms other 240Hz methods. The backlight flashes on and off extremely quickly to generate three blank frames for every frame of real content from the 60Hz source.

This 240Hz technology is the same as that used by both Vizio and Toshiba. According to LG, this 240Hz implementation - while still capable of eliminating motion blur - is technically cheaper to produce as it requires less image processing than the so called MEMC (motion-estimation motion-compensation) system used by both Samsung and Sony LCD TVs. This also explains the cheaper price tag of these 240Hz LG LCD TVs with respect to 240Hz LCDs from other major brands.

Performance wise, LH55 LG LCD TVs are in line with the LH50 series featured above. And like the LH50, these 240Hz LG LCD TVs are capable of accurate color, come with extensive user-adjustable picture controls, and offer a complete suite of connectivity options - including 4 HDMI. The only missing option is the S-Video input; the latter is however in line with the latest trend among other major TV brands.

On the negative side, these TVs do lack the deep blacks of the Samsung or the Sony though as stated for the LH50, the difference in black level performance is one that is mainly noticeable in a side-by-side comparison. Furthermore, as is typical with 240Hz LCD TVs, the benefits of the 240Hz refresh rate are difficult to discern without the use of the appropriate test environment.

The bottom line: While picture quality may not be up to what videophiles would expect, LH55 LG LCD TVs are still capable of solid overall picture performance. Color accuracy is spot-on and the numerous picture controls found on these LG HDTVs will surely appeal to those looking for the best picture. Equally important, these LG LCD TVs come at a price that renders these HDTVs a most compelling 240Hz LCD option for those consumers looking for the best HDTV option for their available budget. 

LG 240Hz LH90 LED LCD TVs with Local Dimming

The LG LH90 series represents LG's high-end LED TV line for 2009. It comprises three screen sizes, the 42-inch LG 42LH90 ($1,270), the 47-inch LG 47LH90 ($1,750), and the massive 55-inch LG 55LH90 ($2,380). These LED LG LCD TVs boast 240Hz TruMotion processing as found on the LH55 series and share almost the same features of the LH55; the main differences apart from the LED backlight are a 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio and THX display certification.

LG high-end LED TV series comes with a more refined styling - with a rounded glossy-black frame finished in a semi-transparent edge and a complementing semi-transparent, blue-tinted support column above a circular, swivel base.

Despite the high-end specs associated with these LED TVs, LG LH90 series represents an extremely affordable option for an LED TV with local dimming technology.

The use of an LED backlight with local dimming gives these LG LED TVs an edge over the more common LED TVs using edge-lighting. The use of a full array of LED backlights with local dimming technology gives more precise picture control for a more natural picture.

LG 47LH90 47-Inch 1080p 240Hz LED Backlit LCD HDTV, Glossy Black/Infused Blue

47LH90 LED LG LCD TV
($1,750)

 

It is true that local dimming technology is associated with what is often referred to as blooming - a sort of subtle halo effect instead of pure blackness in dark areas adjacent to bright parts of an image. This is due to light spilling over from light to adjacent dark areas in the image. However, with the LH90, blooming is generally not an issue as long as you can take the best seat.

Pros: As one may expect from an LED TV with local dimming, these LG LCD TVs are capable of excellent black-level performance and shadow detail. Color is also accurate with images that look natural thanks to the set extensive picture controls while the set THX picture mode provides an easy way out for those looking for the best picture at the touch of a button.

Screen uniformity is also excellent - with more consistent image brightness across the screen than most high-end LCD TVs. Additionally, these sets matte screen handles bright lighting well.

Video processing is excellent - even with standard definition material while noise reduction is capable of eliminating noise without softening the image. All is complemented by a full suite of connectivity with four HDMI and one PC input although it lacks the S-video input.

Cons: These relatively inexpensive LG LED LCD TVs are hampered by a few issues common to most LED TVs. Like the majority of LED TVs from other major brands, LG's LH90 have relatively poor off-angle performance that results in a lighter shade of black even at just three feet away on either side of the best viewing position.

Directly associated with off-angle performance is a sort of halo effect when displaying bright objects over a dark background; this becomes more noticeable from off-angle. Again, this is typical of LED TVs with local dimming. In a similar manner, there is also a noticeable color shift with off-angle. However, LG LH90 off-angle performance is better than some of the more expensive edge-lit LED competition.

Like Sony, LG does not separate anti-blur and dejudder processing - which would may introduce too much smoothness with film-based content. In this respect, Samsung has managed to implement one of the best dejudder processing ever.

Picture performance apart, a major issue which may turn out to be a deal breaker for many is the absence of Internet TV capabilities. This is a feature that is being heavily promoted on competing sets from other major brands and that is being used to a great effect by competing TV makers to help drive the sales. Missing on this feature is rather unfortunately when considering that LG NetCast featured on the LH50 LG LCD TVs is one of the best implementations of Internet-enabled TV entertainment.

The bottom line: The LH90 LG LED TV series may not represent the prefect TV but its deep blacks and accurate colors help deliver solid picture quality that lacks nothing with respect to that of the more expensive competition. It does miss on IPTV interactive features but we still believe that this is more of a nice-to-have feature that does not add much to the TV functionality itself.

Overall, the LH90 stylish design, affordable price for an LED TV with local dimming, and great overall picture especially from the best seat, make LG LCD TVs such as the 47-inch LG 47LH90 and the 55-inch LG 55LH90, among the most compelling big screen LED TV options for home entertainment.





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