LG 42pw450t

Wind back the clock a few years to the days before full HD and the LG 42PW450T would be held up as an example of just how good a 2D picture you can get from an HD-ready TV.

That's not to say it's a universal triumph. With some sources there are obvious weaknesses and, unlike most TVs, you really need to switch viewing modes and play around with the settings to get the most out of it.

For example, while the most logical mode for watching cricket is Sport, the default setting for colour saturation makes the grass intensely garish. It actually looks better in Movie mode but you can stick with Sport and manually tweak the saturation to your own preference.

When watching Sky HD, the information banner isn't as pin-sharp as a good full HD screen but most HD content is highly watchable. Freeview HD images are perfectly clear but there's a slightly milky cast to standard definition Freeview pictures that's tricky to eradicate.

A standard definition broadcast by Sky of Hitchcock's To Catch A Thief, on the other hand, is nicely rendered on the LG 42PW450T, with good contrast and no break-up or fizzing in dark scenes that often trip up more expensive screens. The HD version of the same movie is excellent as the screen shows how suited it is to movies.

The icing on the movie viewing cake is No Country For Old Men on Blu-ray. Very good levels of detail are complemented by solid noise-free skies, realistic colours and, most impressive of all, lovely smooth movement. The 600Hz processing works wonderfully without any noticeable artefacts.

Concerns about the suitability of an HD-ready screen for 3D were sadly proved right on the LG 42PW450T. Despite a convincing sense of perspective to the football matches on Sky 3D, the side-by-side system results in a rather gloomy image with all the clarity of a Logie Baird prototype.

Things improve when watching 3D movies on Blu-ray, but the drop in resolution with live action scenes on a Panasonic test disc is clearly evident. The most suitable material 3D-wise is clearly CGI movies on Blu-ray.

Monsters vs Aliens scrubs up nicely with minimal crosstalk, well contained colours and a noticeable sense of depth, but it certainly lacks the punch that a really good 1920 x 1080 panel can deliver.

As for 2D to 3D conversion, the less said about that the better. Even after messing around with the viewpoint, it simply doesn't make for a realistic 3D image, let alone one that you'd want to watch.

As a plasma of course there are no concerns about the viewing angle, except with 3D, where the effectiveness is limited to around 120 degrees.

Sound

For years, audio performance on flat screen TVs has stood still, but the LG 42PW450T has clearly overcome the constraints of its diminutive size. There are a number of DSP modes such as Cinema, Sport and Gaming that are surprisingly effective, but even in Standard mode the clarity and effortless volume achieved is remarkable.

Clear Voice II is also on board, and really does lift vocals above background noise. You can watch The Wire on DVD and actually hear Avon Barksdale's mutterings to Stringer.

The speakers are even acceptable for listening to music when using the media player.