The 32LV550T looks and feels well made, with a dark finish and slim transparent trim, part of which is illuminated to pleasing effect by a little white power light.
The connections provide a hint at the power contained within that svelte (34.9mm deep) frame. Highlights include four HDMIs, all facing out sideways from the set's rear left side, two USB ports, a LAN port delivering PC file streaming and Smart TV online and an RS-232C control port. None of the 32LV550T's numerous jacks faces directly out from the TV's rear, which is very helpful to anyone wishing to wall-mount the TV.
The USB ports can be used not only for playing JPEG photo, MP3 music and MPEG4/DivX video files from USB storage devices, but also for adding Wi-Fi connectivity via an optional dongle. You can't, however, use the USBs to record from the set's built-in Freeview HD tuner to a USB HDD as you can with some current Samsung and Panasonic TVs.
Plex, meanwhile, attempts to streamline and provide a more intuitive interface for the often complicated business of getting files from your PC onto your TV. This is a great idea in principle, and there's no denying the attractiveness of the menus. The only catch is that getting Plex working - especially from an Apple Mac - can be challenging, and even once it's working you might find it a little unstable.
However, the LG/Plex relationship is still in its infancy, so it's more than likely that there will be regular software and ease-of-use improvements in the near future.
Turning next to LG's new Smart TV system, it's a large step forward from the NetCast system sported by 2010 LG TVs. Especially welcome is a new 'hub' screen that provides quick and easy access to whatever sources are plugged into your TV.
Included on this interface is access to two tiers of LG's latest online services. The most important is the Premium content stream, containing most of LG's video streaming services, such as YouTube, BBC iPlayer, the AceTrax movie purchase/rental service and access to the subscription-based MLB.tv baseball service. Other useful tools are Facebook and Twitter 'apps', a vTuner Internet radio conduit, and the woomiTV 'video gateway'.
Less content heavy and useful applications can be found in a secondary list, presented extremely elegantly in the form of a virtual shop, complete with app 'shelves'. However, while it's easy to admire LG's elegant visual approach to handling large numbers (50 plus) of apps, the quality of many of these apps is average at best. Many are extremely basic games that only the very young or terminally bored would consider playing more than once, while others - such as an app about playing music on wine glasses or another based on Tarot cards - are just plain bonkers.
The 32LV550T's expansive feature list continues with its picture set-up controls. Highlights include a series of presets, a backlight adjustment, processing systems for boosting contrast and colour performance, a tool for adjusting skin tones, separate MPEG and 'standard' noise reduction systems, resolution-boosting processing, edge enhancement processing and various settings for LG's TruMotion system for smoothing out movement.
This latter feature comes on top of a built-in 100Hz engine, and is preferable to most motion processors because it enables it to fine tune blur and judder independently of each other.
The 32LV550T has been endorsed by the Imaging Science Foundation and an Expert mode provides two and 10-point gamma calibration, plus adjustments for the contrast, brightness, tint and 'colour' (which seems to mean saturation) of the red, green and blue image components. You can additionally adjust the tint and colour of the cyan, yellow and magenta secondary hues.