Impressive pictures and respectable sound for a very good price
Contrast ratio misleading
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We've said it many times before, but this screen has made us feel the need to say it again: when you're eyeing up potential TVs, don't pay too much attention to the quoted specifications - especially the contrast ratio.
While it's useful as a rough guide to a screen's abilities (or lack thereof) in displaying extremes of light and dark and everything in between, there's no one agreed way of obtaining this figure.
So, we get companies like LG claiming a mighty 10,000:1 contrast ratio (one of the highest we've ever seen) for this 42in plasma, when in reality it may not that much better than some rival screens with a claimed contrast of 3,000:1. This makes things very confusing for the average consumer.
Still, the 42PX4DV manages to impress in more tangible areas. Take its design, for instance. LG's styling has really come on leaps and bounds in the last couple of years, and this screen is testament to that.
It's not the best-looking model on the market, for sure, but it's certainly among the most most handsome at this reasonable price point (around £1,700), and feels sturdy and well put together.
The connections are also plentiful for the price. There's a component video input for progressive scan images from a DVD player, three Scarts (although sadly only one that's RGB-capable) a VGA PC input and, most surprisingly, an HDMI input.
Now, we expect to see a digital input on any modern high-resolution, high-cost plasma, but finding one on an affordable set with a resolution of 852 x 480 is unusual. It means that, even though the screen can't show programmes and movies in true HD quality (for that it would need a resolution with at least 720 vertical lines), it will be able to receive Sky's HD broadcasts when they start, and downscale them to fit.
What's more, non-HD devices are going to be using HDMI in the near future - it's the digital version of the Scart. So hats off to LG for including future-proofing on its entry-level plasma.
Another feature that belies the 42PX4DV's budget status is its digital TV tuner (there's analogue too), which provides access to 30-odd digital Freeview channels and an eight-day electronic programme guide.
Our hopes of the LG producing pictures to be proud of are further raised by the presence of both the brand's XD Engine II image enhancement technology and DCDi upscaling from Faroudja - many budget screens have no such technology.
And while pictures from our The Motorcycle Diaries DVD weren't truly outstanding, they are certainly improved by this processing and were bright, colourful and boasted good fine detail.
What's more, while that sky-high quoted contrast ratio figure is definitely dubious, the 42PX4DV is undeniably capable of producing rich, deep blacks and subtle variations in dark tones. The scenes set in the Amazon at night in The Motorcycle Diaries consist of a whole lot of black, which can look more like a whole lot of grey on some plasmas - but not so from the LG.
Sound quality is pretty decent, too, and we enjoyed good clarity from our test disc, while the BBE and SRS TruSurround XT functions can provide reasonably effective virtual surround sound, if you wish.
The 42PX4DV is hugely impressive, and proves that low-resolution screens aren't yet redundant. Not everyone will want a set that can handle HD, and TV provides some fantastic features and a solid all-round performance from a 42in screen for just £1,700.
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