The first DLP rear projection TV ever launched in the UK was made by LG. But since then, the company has seemingly cooled off on the technology, restricting its new DLP output to the occasional single TV every now and then. So here's hoping the latest of these sporadic offerings doesn't turn out to be some half-hearted afterthought.
The 44SZ8R looks decent enough, thanks to its extravagantly slender black screen frame and retro-chic metallic silver speaker section.
The good news continues with its connections: an HDMI input and two sets of component video inputs. There's a PC input, too and three Scarts, though only one of these Scarts can take RGB.
The DLP chipset at the 44SZ8R's heart completes the TV's HD Ready status with a resolution of 1,280 x 720 but then backs this up with a merely mediocre claimed contrast ratio of 1,500:1 and actually quite low claimed brightness of 450cd/m2.
Meanwhile, leading out the TV's user-adjustable features ,is LG's XD Engine processing - a six-step application designed to boost image clarity, colour saturations/ tone, contrast, brightness, colour gradation/grayscaling, and frame rate handling for movies.
Elsewhere there's a colour management tool offering separate adjustment of flesh-,green- and bluetones; 3D and MPEG noise reduction systems; a cinema mode for better motion with film sources; and picture in picture facilities.
The LG 44SZ8R's pictures are a considerable improvement on previous LG DLP sets but still short of some of the competition.
Starting with the bad news: when the contrast and brightness levels are optimised the picture can look dull, making it only truly enjoyable to watch in a darkened room. Also, the picture isn't spectacularly sharp, even with high-def sources, and sometimes the colour tone can look slightly dubious, with too much emphasis on greens and oranges.
Also, the picture can look a touch noisy with digital and analogue tuner footage (though the MPEG NR helps); horizontal motion can stutter a little; and areas of bright and dark contrast can exhibit DLP's rainbow effect.
On the upside though, the 44SZ8R largely avoids common DLP problems with dotting noise over horizontal motion, and green fizzing in dark areas. Also, if you adjust your settings from the factory presets, black levels look deeper than expected from the 1,500:1 claimed contrast ratio. Peak whites look natural and well controlled, edges are halo-free, and with high-quality sources, the picture is also enjoyably clean and stable.
Fed a potent action scene, the LG's sonics prove decent. The soundstage is wide and deep, trebles sound well-rounded, and bass is reasonably potent. The only problem is the midrange, which can sound compressed, particularly with male voices.
LG's 44SZ8R is really not a bad TV but you can't consider it in such isolated terms as it has to share shelf space with similarly priced DLP models from Sagem which are marginally dearer but clearly superior in just about every meaningful way.