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LG 32LT75 review

Has LG hit the all-in-one jackpot?

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Our Verdict

Despite a few minor grumbles about some features that have been left out, you do get a lot for the asking price.

For

  • Built-in PVR
  • Good quality settings
  • External recording

Against

  • Series linking not up to speed yet
  • No dual recording
  • Only 720p

IDTVs have become the norm on the high street, but IDTVs with built-in PVR functionality are few and far between, with Humax, Sanyo, Hitachi and now LG so far dipping their toes in the water.

LG's offerings are Freeview Playback Group 2-compatible LCD and plasma (the PT86 range) screens with 160GB hard discs and screen sizes up to 42in for LCD and 50 for plasma. At 32in, its 720p (anything higher res is downscaled to fit) HD screen may be relatively small but it has a lot more besides to offer.

The tuner arrangement comprises two digital terrestrial and one analogue variant, allowing you to record one while watching the other. The included (non-upgradeable) 160GB hard disc records about 57 hours of digital TV at the highest quality setting or 86 at normal. As with the Humax PVR TVs, you can also record externally from Scart or composite-connected sources such as a satellite receiver.

Well Connected

It's a striking-looking set, sporting a piano black finish and a not especially thin screen surround that curves at the bottom around the speaker area. It has a pleasingly slim footprint and sits on a small but sturdy semi-circular stand (it can also be wall-mounted).

Two HDMI connectors topline a fairly well-specified rear panel line-up. These are joined by component connectors and two RGB capable Scarts. There's also an optical digital audio output and stereo phono outs and, for PC users, a VGA PC input paired with an RGB/DVI PC audio output. A single UHF input is included for your aerial and there's the requisite CI slot for pay-TV.

Side AV along the left-hand side includes S-video and composite video inputs and stereo phonos, while a row of operating buttons runs down the right-hand side.

The remote has the same shiny black finish and can be used to operate additional equipment, including that from other manufacturers. It's understandably button-heavy considering the need for PVR controls, but remains intuitive to use, with certain PVR buttons handily coloured glow-in-the dark green.

Digital TV and radio channels get a grid-style EPG that can be toggled to show now-and-next data for each channel or the full seven days in advance, which can be skipped through quickly day by day.

Highlighting a programme brings up a menu of options asking if you want to record the series, record the programme, set a reminder or watch it if it's currently on. Automatic series recording is a welcome feature of Freeview Playback Group 2 but, sadly, it's broadcaster-dependent and few channels currently support it.

Quality settings

Recordings from the tuners or an external source can also be scheduled using a manual timer that has once daily or weekly repeat options.

Recordings are stored in a separate menu and play in a thumbnail window when selected. Name, date and time are displayed except when they're from an external source, although both can be renamed if you wish.

There are two quality settings that must be set before recording. 'High' is recommended for analogue recording and 'normal' for everything else and, to LG's credit, we saw little difference in picture quality between the two.

Recordings cannot be played from the start while still in progress, but you can skip back and forth through them at five different speeds with the aid of an onscreen bar.

Timeshifting is similar; the TV keeps a cache of what you watch, allowing you to pause and resume and even skip to another channel while continuing to timeshift the previous one. Pressing 'live TV' returns you to the current broadcast, and you can also timeshift inputted sources.

The LT75's screen was rather wasted with analogue feeds in our strong signal test area (aided by the TVs built-in booster option), with noise-prone results throughout. Digital pictures are more robust on the whole, but colour reproduction and contrast initially appeared a little unnatural-looking until we tweaked the available settings .

Pin-sharp Images

LG's XD Engine processing technology keeps everything generally smooth-looking, and not artificially so, although we did notice minor artefacting on most digital channels.

Plugging in our HD DVD player and firing up The Bourne Supremacy revealed the panel's exceptional HD credentials; pin-sharp images show what the panel is capable of.

Though acceptable for general TV-watching, audio is a little underpowered from the 10W speakers when dealing with movie soundtracks, but fine using external outputs.

While dual recording would have been ideal, there's little to grumble about for the asking price.

Its AV performance may not be knock-out but it's easy to use and its PVR features will only get better once Freeview Playback fulfils its promise.