If there's one word that immediately sums up LG's 42SL8000, it's slim. For as well as being 45mm deep, its bezel extends barely an inch beyond three sides of the TV. Even the slightly wider bottom edge is still much smaller than we see with most LG sets.
This all-round svelteness, together with an ultra-glossy finish, angled top edge and subtle blue tinge infused into the bottom extremity ensures that the TV really does look stunning. But is its beauty more than skin deep?
There are certainly more features than you might expect to find inside such a slender body. For a start, all the TV's connections and tuners are built in, rather than being housed in an external media box.
Those connections are pretty prodigious, too, including as they do four HDMIs, a D-Sub PC port, and a USB slot, through which the TV can play a variety of multimedia file formats – including DiVX 1080p HD, HD .mkv, and WMV.
There's also more connectivity that you can't see, namely, Bluetooth. This enables you to stream in MP3s or JPEG images from compatible mobile phones, or audio out to a wireless headset, all without any wired connections.
Scanning the 42SL8000's spec sheet uncovers a number of other important bits and bobs, too. For a start, the screen is full HD and boasts a high claimed contrast ratio of 150,000:1.
Then there's the set's claimed 200Hz processing. We say 'claimed' because in reality the system is 100Hz accompanied by a scanning backlight. The only brands currently offering a true 200Hz LCD refresh rate are Sony and Samsung. But however dubious the 200Hz label, 100Hz plus a scanning backlight on the 42SL8000 should still at least improve motion handling over bog-standard 100Hz, as long as the aforementioned backlight doesn't cause too many issues.
Other potentially handy aspects worth a passing mention are the latest generation of LG's multifaceted XD Engine video processing, plus an extensive suite of user picture adjustments that includes noise reduction, dynamic colour and contrast processors, multiple gamma presets, LG's RealCinema system for better 24p handling, and standard or wide colour gamut options.
It's important to add, too, that a handy themed series of picture presets are joined by two 'Imaging Science Foundation' options. The presence of these ISF presets shows that the TV has been certified as flexible enough to be professionally calibrated by an engineer.
Ease of use
LG's current onscreen menu system is as attractive and logical as any in the TV world. Even better, the set carries a Picture Wizard system that generates a series of test signals to help you calibrate the image properly yourself.
The remote control is a bit ordinary looking, perhaps, but it is at least perfectly functional.
Far from being compromised by the slim chassis design, the TV's picture quality is easily LG's best to date.
Particularly startling is how extremely sharp HD pictures look. Pristine Blu-ray signals are packed with spectacular amounts of fine detail, texture and subtlety.
What's more, the screen's superb detail extends into dark areas of the picture. For, provided the image has been decently calibrated, dark scenes suffer far less from hollowness and flatness than many LG tellies, or indeed LCD TVs from several other brands, for that matter.
In fact, the 42SL8000's black levels are generally very accomplished. There's a trace of LCD's usual greyness around, but it really is a barely noticeable background concern.
Pictures also benefit from some really quite rich and vibrant colours, the strength of which is equalled by some startling tonal authenticity, and a really expressive range.
The 42SL8000 also improves on typical LG televisions with standard-definition playback. Freeview broadcasts are upscaled really well, retaining good colour accuracy, and looking sharper without source noise being exaggerated. There's a slightly forced look to contrasting edges, perhaps, but this is a small price to pay for the general quality.
The 42SL8000 also makes a fairly persuasive case with its motion processing. With the TruMotion 200Hz system engaged, there's definitely a much more fluid look to action. What's more, provided you leave the system set to its Low level, it doesn't cause too many unwanted processing side effects.
The processing certainly isn't totally immune to troubles, though. It occasionally causes action-packed images to stutter, and shimmering or flickering artefacts can sometimes appear around particularly fast-moving objects.
LG's scanning backlight approach causes sporadic issues too, namely the appearance of ghostly picture 'echoes' around some swift-moving tennis or cricket balls and some flicker over extremely fine details.
But if you find certain sources distractingly affected by any of these issues, then you can simply turn the 200Hz engine off. And you'll still be left with precious little motion blur and only a little extra judder to contend with.
In fact, our only really significant grumble with the 42SL8000's pictures is that they lose contrast when watched from the side. But the same is true of nigh on every LCD TV, with the exception of the Panasonic's IPS Alpha models.
The screen is also a touch more reflective than some, though this should only cause any problems if it's sited in a particularly bright room or direct sunlight.
Unusually for LG, the 42SL8000 has the audio talent to support its pictures. Out goes the typically rather flat soundstage; in comes a marked increase in power, clarity and dynamic range. On the downside, there's still a slightly harsh feel to some peak trebles, and voices can get lost during action scenes, although a provided Clear Voice processor improves this.
In typical LG style, the 42SL8000 offers far more in terms of design prowess, features and performance than you've any right to expect for such a modest outlay.
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