Best TV 2012
LG has finally managed to overhaul its great Korean rival Samsung in the design department. This is evidenced in spectacular fashion by the LG 47LM860V, which is gorgeously slim in both its rear and its bezel width. It's also glimmeringly attractive, thanks to the metallic finish of what little frame there is.
What's more, with the TV off, it looks as if the bezel is only around 1mm wide, thanks to the way the inner part of the bezel is finished in the same black that the screen adopts when it's inactive. With the TV on you notice around an extra 9mm of black inner bezel, but even this is so small that you scarcely notice it in the context of the 47-inch screen.
The LG 47LM860V's slimness and the way its connections are all positioned for side access make it a great wall hanging option. But its desktop stand is also gorgeous if you decide to go that way, and enables you to rotate the TV on it, too.
Connections are plentiful. Four HDMI ports deliver your main video sources - including 3D - while the multimedia talents so crucial to modern TVs are supported via a trio of USBs, and both LAN and integrated Wi-Fi network solutions. File compatibility via all these sources is great, and includes DivX HD alongside most other key photo, music and video formats.
LG is also to be commended this year for making its TVs easier than most to get talking to networked Apple Macs as well as DLNA-linked PCs. This is an eminently sensible move, given the market penetration of Apple's devices these days.
The LG 47LM860V's connections also include MHL support, a straightforward D-Sub PC port, and access to an integrated Freeview HD tuner. LG isn't currently following Panasonic and Samsung in offering built-in Freesat tuners.
As you'd expect of any premium, big-brand TV this year, the LG 47LM860V's multimedia talents extend to a suite of online services. In fact, LG's Smart TV online platform is now a contender for the most expansive in town, offering a dizzying quantity of apps and video streaming services.
Among the highlights are Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Lovefilm, BlinkBox, ITN News, AceTrax, YouTube, The Cartoon Network, iConcerts, Viewster, and the recently added Game World and KnowHow Movies portals.
Game World provides access to some fairly basic, family-friendly games - some available in 3D - while KnowHow Movies is the new film streaming platform from Dixons. This provides films to rent (for up to £3.99 (about $6.40) for the latest titles) or buy (for as much as £12.99 (about $20)), and it seems to work well enough.
However, we did find ourselves feeling a bit resistant to the arrival of yet another video streaming service.
As usual it's worth stating that as well as lots of high quality content (mostly video streaming services plus the usual social media suspects) there's also plenty of dross among the LG app list. Personally we think LG could benefit from cutting away some of its app chaff to make it easier to focus on the good stuff.
But at least the interface (including a clever second remote control) LG has developed for its latest online services is a good one, as we'll see later.
Focusing next on the LG 47LM860V's picture technology, it uses edge LED lighting with a local dimming system that can deliver different levels of brightness to different sections of the LEDs. This, obviously, should boost contrast, because it means dark parts of the picture can 'do their own thing' separately to bright parts.
The quality of the final results will vary, though, depending on both the subtlety of the local dimming and the quality of the processing that's connected with it.
LG has also equipped the LG 47LM860V with the current top tier of its motion processing technology, dubbed MCI 800 - a name that reflects its delivery of an 800Hz-like effect, thanks to a native 200Hz panel, a scanning backlight system and some motion interpolation processing.
LG has a commendable history of providing truly comprehensive quantities of picture adjustments with its TVs, so it's no surprise to find a relatively premium model such as the LG 47LM860V boasting all sorts of colour management, gamma shifting and picture processing adjustments.
And with so many calibration 'guns' at its disposal, it's also no surprise to find the LG 47LM860V earning the endorsement of the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF). This means you can pay for one of their engineers to come round your gaff and professionally calibrate your new TV's pictures so that they're perfectly optimised to your specific viewing environment.
The last aspect of the LG 47LM860V's functionality we need to focus on is its 3D playback. Naturally this uses LG's passive system, which applies a polarising filter to the screen's front so that you can get a 3D effect that's less tiring and less flickery, but also slightly less detailed than the pictures you get from active 3D TVs.
Passive 3D also works with much cheaper glasses than the ones you have to use with the active 3D system, hence why you get five pairs included free with the LG 47LM860V. These include four normal passive 3D glasses, and one pair designed to clip on over a pair of normal spectacles.
There are also two further pairs designed for use with LG's Dual Play feature. This enables two players to enjoy full screen play simultaneously with games that support the Dual Play feature.