47LM690V

LG has already blown us away with the looks of its new LM660V and LM670V TVs, but the brand has stepped things up again with the 47LM960V. It miraculously sports a silver bezel no more than 3-4mm wide around its 47-inch screen, and sticks out less than 38mm round the back - a pretty impressive achievement for a TV that uses direct (rear mounted) LED lighting rather than an edge LED system.

This rear-end slimness is a result of LG's Nano technology, which shrinks the usual direct LED depth by using a diffusing sheet to spread out the light emitted from the rear-mounted LED array.

Any TV with flagship aspirations these days is expected to serve up a huge number of connections. So it's no great shock to find the 47LM960V's rear bristling with such socket finery as four v1.4 HDMIs, three USB ports, a D-Sub PC input, a LAN jack, plus something you can't actually see: built-in Wi-Fi.
The HDMIs can all be used for receiving 3D Blu-ray images as well as the usual HD fare, while the USBs prove capable of playing back a diverse set of film, photo and music file formats - including Divx HD movies.

The ability to connect the TV to a computer for multimedia streaming via the LAN is particularly noteworthy, too, for the ease with which it lets you connect Apple Macs as well as PCs is applaudable.

This impressive 'format-neutral' approach to networking computers is boosted by the 47LM960V's provision of two separate means of PC communication: LG's own Smart Share platform, and the increasingly helpful PLEX third party portal.

One final connection trick worth mentioning is the 47LM960V's ability to record/timeshift from its Freeview HD tuner to USB HDDs.

LG has clearly put a lot of effort this year into improving its online Smart TV service. Right away, for instance, you can see that the Smart Hub menu which lets you access all the sources and content available is a much higher resolution than last year's version, making it both prettier and more efficient when it comes to handling reams of sources.

LG's Smart TV content level has ballooned too, with not far shy of 200 apps now available via LG's Premium and 'Smart World' app sections. As its name suggests, the Premium content is by far the most interesting, being based mostly around video services such as the BBC iPlayer, YouTube, BlinkBox, ITN, BoxOffice365, AceTrax Movies, Viewster, RedBull TV, CineTrailer, AutoCar, Stuff, iConcerts, DailyMotion, Cartoon Network, HiT Entertainment, NetFlix and LoveFilm.

Twitter, Facebook and Picasa apps are on hand for social networking and file-sharing, meanwhile, and there's now a much easier to browse 'shop front' for LG's 3D World service, which provides hours and hours of often weird and occasionally wonderful 3D video sources.

While the Premium features could potentially deliver hours of entertainment to you every week, though, the dozens and dozens of minor apps in the Smart World 'store' are for the most part totally pointless, and so not worth the time it takes to browse through them.

Up next on the 47LM960V's long feature list is its 3D system. This uses LG's passive approach, based around a polarising filter across the screen's front in conjunction with simple, electronics-free glasses. What's more, the passive 3D technology can also be used for allowing two different gamers to enjoy full-screen gaming on the same TV at the same time - a talent LG dubs Dual Play.

This needs games that support it - such as Call of Duty: MW3 - and requires special pairs of passive glasses (which only 'see' one side of the polarised images emerging from the TV). But LG kindly includes two pairs of these free with the TV, so that's OK.

LG has long realised that the way to an AV enthusiast's heart is through his calibration options. So naturally the ISF-endorsed 47LM960V has pretty much all the picture adjustment tools most folk will ever need - plus a few more besides.

Colour and gamma management; various noise reduction controls with multiple power settings; numerous motion tweaking tools; more ways of adjusting the screen's contrast/black level than you can shake a stick at; resolution boosters; a new colour manipulation system for adjusting skin, grass and sky colours independently of other picture elements; and so we could go on.

The last feature that needs to be covered in this section is local dimming. This system for independently controlling the light output from individual clusters of the LEDs behind the screen is generally a very good idea, as it can massively improve a TV's contrast performance.

However, LG slightly bungled it on last year's Nano TVs, as it caused noticeable blocks and haloes of light around some bright objects. So hopefully the system has undergone a considerable refinement this year, aided and abetted by the 47LM960V's use of dual core processing.