LG 20LS3R review

Gorgeous and aggressively priced, this stands tall as a second-room HD-ready TV

TODO alt text

Our Verdict

Pictures are just good enough for this to be a decent second TV


  • Impressive connectivity
  • Stylish design


  • Audio disappointing
  • Poor black levels

Surrounded by Identikit flatscreen TVs, LG’s 20LS3R certainly stands out from the crowd. The upturned C-shape stand is a dramatic stylistic departure from the majority of TVs’ footprints, acting as a counterpoint to this 20in LCD TV’s gloss-black looks.

There’s something futuristic and yet nostalgic about this TV’s appearance, which might polarise opinion, but we’re won over by its arty design. On looks alone, it’s a persuasive way in which to spend £350.

A closer inspection of the stand reveals more to be won over by. Here you’ll find a pretty impressive selection of connections for a small LCD TV, including a PC input, an RF aerial input (for the TV’s built-in analogue tuner), a Scart, an audio input, and an all-important HDMI.

The presence of the HDMI gives the resolution game away: the 20LS3R is HD-ready, with a native resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. The rest of the on-paper spec is also promising, as the quoted contrast ratio checks in at 3,000:1 and the TV’s quoted brightness is 450cd/m2.

That the LG 20LS3R is HD-ready may raise a few eyebrows, as there is a prevailing opinion that hi-def material can’t be fully appreciated below 26in screen sizes. But, ever the optimists, we’re hoping that thishi-def TV is as pleasant to watch as it is to look at.

Confirmation of the 20LS3R’s stylish nature comes as soon as we switch the set on. The standby button is a clear plastic tab that protrudes downwards and constantly glows red when the TV is switched on. Don’t panic, though – it isn’t distracting.

Good pictures...

With the weight of expectation nestling firmly on the 20LS3R’s shoulders, we set about putting that HDMI to use, setting up our HD DVD player and unleashing our test movie of Batman Begins on the 20in screen.

Unfortunately, it’s apparent that despite the stylish appearance, unlike the Caped Crusader, the 20LS3R doesn’t execute any amazing night moves. Black levels are poor, and don’t cope with Gotham’s looming shadows and foreboding alleyways, rendering darker areas with far too much greyness for nocturnal pictures to be convincing. All the 20LS3R’s XD Engine processing seems to do is deepen the grey areas with some bluish tinges.

That said, the 20LS3R does make amends to some extent with its colour performance: colours are extremely realistic and action sequences are given with verve. Fast-moving sequences are presented with little blurring, but there is a catch: the same sequences suffer from a loss of detailing.

Audio too is a tad disappointing: the speakers are low on bass and heavy on treble. Theses speakers would be more on home on a PC: they do seem to benefit from a Movie mode that widens the stereo and pushes vocals to the front of the mix, but the maximum volume is annoyingly low.

The low volume issue isn’t helped by the lack of a headphones jack – a feature that we normally take for granted on flatscreen TVs, even models this size. This set would really benefit from one: it’s just the sort of TV you’ll want to watch in bed.

Pity about the sound

Although we’ve had a few negative things to say about the 20LS3R, it’s not a total case of style over substance. Considering the price tag, it’s remarkable that this screen is HD-ready, and may perhaps be more suited to hi-def gaming rather than to soak up the latest hi-def disc blockbuster.