Ever wished your TV's speakers could be heard but not seen?
Well your wish comes true with this nicely-priced LCD set from LG, the 42LG5000, featuring an invisible speaker system that integrates the drivers into the bezel rather than tacking them on the sides.
Not only does this give the set a sleek and compact shape, but LG also reckons it delivers a 'virtual wall of sound' with a wider sweet spot than other LCD sets. We can't wait to put that particular wild claim to the test later.
Good looking LCD
One thing's for sure though – the 42LG5000 is an extremely good looking telly, with an alluring high gloss black finish and gentle curves. A particularly nice touch is the moving LED power indicator set into the bezel, which pulses and changes colour when you power it up.
The set boasts more ports than the south coast. There are no less than three HDMI v1.3 sockets for your hi-def needs (all of which support Deep Colour and HDMI CEC), plus a set of component inputs for good measure. You'll also find a PC input, optical digital audio output and a common interface (CI) slot on the side for adding pay TV channels.
If you've been eyeing up a Blu-ray player to pair with this TV, then rest assured that it boasts the correct credentials, namely 1920 x 1080 resolution with full 24Hz support. It uses a 120Hz mode that displays each frame five times in 1/24 of a second, which should result in smooth, judder-free BR pics.
As is customary these days, the set is also rammed full of impressive-sounding picture technology, though it lacks the TruMotion 100Hz mode found on the step-up 6000 series.
What you do get, however, is Intelligent Sensor, which adjusts the picture according to the viewing conditions in the room, helping to reduce unnecessary power consumption and eye strain.
For those among you who like to finesse your picture to perfection, the set's Image Science Foundation-approved Expert Mode puts a comprehensive range of tweaks at your disposal.
A selection of AV Mode presets allows you to instantly change the picture attributes for different sources (Cinema, Sport and Game), while Eye Care protects your peepers by reducing bright whites during light scenes and boosting blacks during dark scenes.
To support the sound from those invisible speakers, LG has included Clear Voice, a new innovation designed to boost the clarity of dialogue when watching a DVD that has been downmixed to stereo, as well as SRS TruSurround XT to add a little extra width to the soundstage.
Another remarkable feature is the futuristic-looking user interface, which uses crisp, full colour graphics and an intuitive structure that makes it a joy to use.
It's just a shame that its picture quality isn't quite so impressive. With I Am Legend fed in from a Sony BDP-S500 Blu-ray deck, the set struggles to suppress image lag, making a mess of the fast-paced opening scenes.
There's a smudgy trail behind the vehicle, giving the overall image a hazy quality. But it's not only objects moving at breakneck speed that cause problems – slower actions like a swinging arm or slight camera pan also display the same traits. It'll be interesting to see whether or not TruMotion 100Hz mode can tidy up this problem on LG's step-up sets.
But it's not all doom and gloom, as there are many positive aspects to its hi-def picture quality. When there's not too much movement in the picture, hi-def pictures look super sharp, particularly shots of decrepit New York buildings or close ups of Smith's stubbly face.
Colour reproduction is also impressive, with the set replicating skin tones and fulsome shades with aplomb, while the 10-bit processing keeps gradation looking smooth.
What's more, dark scenes are nicely handled thanks to some decent shadow detailing and black level is passable, but could be deeper.
However, any good work done in the hi-def realm is completely undone when watching a standard-def feed. Pictures are buzzing with noise, straight lines look jagged and the afore-mentioned motion blur problem just compounds the problems.
As for the invisible speaker system, we don't think this 'wall of sound' will give Phil Spector anything to worry about, but the sound quality is undeniably impressive.
Dialogue is strident, there's a lot more bass than you'd expect from such a slim frame and the effective SRS TruSurround opens up the soundstage beautifully.
This excellent sound quality ultimately isn't enough to save the 42LG5000 from mediocrity. It may be feature-heavy and a real looker, but there are too many picture flaws to truly deserve your attention.