LG 42LE4900 review

LG's great value 42-inch edge-LED set has some tasty features, but can its pictures cut the mustard at this price?

LG 42LE4900
LG's great value 42-inch edge-LED set has some tasty features

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First impressions are generally positive, with the 42LE4900 delivering a bright, punchy picture that lends itself well to high-definition material. That means blockbusting films like Avatar look instantly dazzling, with Pandora's cartoon-like colours beaming from the screen with eye-popping intensity.

But there's a pleasing subtlety to the set's colour reproduction too, conveying tonal blends smoothly and tackling Sam Worthington's tricky, stubbly skin with a convincing tone. Not quite the lucid, life-like reproduction of some sets, but certainly a great effort at this price.

Detail reproduction is also terrific. The XD Engine at the heart of the set lets none of those pixels slip through the net, making the movie's complex CG textures and landscapes look razor sharp, while objects are strongly defined around the edges. Shots of Pandora's wild and wonderful creatures ram the point home, as the set picks out hairs, scaly skin patterns and fine glimmers of light with ease.

The 42LE4900 isn't quite as assured when it comes to black levels. Switching over to a darker, moodier movie, such as Inception, shows up the set's unconvincing attempts at conveying blacks and picking out shadow detail.

LG 42le4900 review: picture

This becomes a problem when it's asked to display scenes like the night-time aerial sweep over Paris – the screen looks mushy and indistinct, with the different buildings merging into a mass of black in certain areas. Inside Sato's in-dream apartment, dark areas in the background are black holes, while the definition of the lapels and pockets on Cobb's black jacket aren't as pronounced as they might be.

Another problem is that the edge LED backlighting causes some pooling of light in the corners of the screen, which is clearly visible when you play a movie with black bars and during dark scenes.

And one final negative concerns the set's lack of fluidity when it comes to motion. With none of LG's TruMotion anti-blur processing on board, you get a fairly smeary trail behind fast moving objects and hints of judder here and there, particularly during camera pans.

Test clips from a calibration disc showing fast-moving trains and quick camera pans up and down buildings display enough judder and blur to make you feel queasy.

But despite these shortcomings, which to be fair most people might expect from a sub-£600 set missing powerful picture processing, it produces very vibrant, engaging pictures with lots of detail and radiant colours.

This lends itself well to digital TV, which looks particularly crisp and solid. Hi-def channels look terrific, and although there's evidence of noise on SD channels the images are eminently watchable. And as an upscaler of SD material the set does a decent job, giving our Avatar DVD pleasing clarity and depth when fed in at 576p