LG 47LE8900 review

Direct LED lighting meets a decent price, solid multimedia features and a Freeview HD tuner to very desirable effect

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Direct LED technology scores another palpable hit in the form of the 47LE8900's picture quality. In fact, with no crosstalk-afflicted 3D pictures to dilute our enthusiasm, we're left feeling pretty confident that the 47LE8900 produces the most consistently excellent pictures LG has ever produced on a TV.

The most immediately striking thing is the phenomenal amount of profundity at your disposal. The screen's bezel is itself jet black, yet the picture can look almost as black when required – a classic sign of exactly what direct LED lighting is capable.

Admittedly, this extreme black level does come at the cost of a little shadow detail versus what the best plasma TVs might reproduce. But this is a sacrifice most people won't mind making for the vast majority of the time, especially when comparing the inkiness of the 47LE8900's dark scenes with the milky clouding so often evident when watching the same material on CCFL or edge-lit LED LCD TVs.

The local dimming element of the 47LE8900 ensures, moreover, that the superb black level response doesn't have to come at the expense of brightness in the same way it would have to with edge LED and CCFL LCD TVs. In fact, the purity and brightness with which light objects appear against otherwise dark backdrops is really quite outstanding, and makes it surprisingly easy to see how LG might have managed to somehow conjure up that 9,000,000:1 contrast ratio.

The 47LE8900 capitalises on its terrific contrast performance, moreover, with an excellent colour palette. Richly coloured material is punchy and dramatic without becoming overblown or cartoonish and without losing subtlety when it comes to portraying the fine colour blends so important to helping pictures achieve a sense of solidity and depth.

It's arguably with more natural, darker colours where the 47LE8900 makes its direct LED technology count the most though, reproducing them, especially using the THX preset, with an accuracy that makes dark scenes look exceptionally cinematic.

The THX preset possibly makes HD images look fractionally softer than some viewers might like. But this doesn't mean the TV isn't capable of doing sharp if you prefer. In fact, its standard and game presets both bring out the texture and detail of high quality high-definition material with precisely that forensic precision some HD enthusiasts can't get enough of.

Things can start to look a touch noisy if you try to emphasise the sharpness too much, but you don't have to be a calibration expert to figure out how to adjust the TV until this noise goes again.

Given that we prefer not to bother with the 47LE8900's motion processing for the most part, it's a relief to find that the picture isn't badly softened by motion blur in its raw, unprocessed state. There's a little residual judder, but it's not distractingly bad, and many people will prefer this to uncanny silky smoothness.

While the 47LE8900 is an outstanding HD monitor, though, it's only a decent standard-definition one. Its upscaling circuitry doesn't seem as refined as that seen with some other brands - most notably Sony, Philips and Samsung (at least where these brands' high-end models are concerned). This means standard-def pictures can look a touch softer and noisier than we'd like. But not to a degree that stops them from being perfectly enjoyable.

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More good news finds the 47LE8900's picture reducing in quality surprisingly little when viewed from a wide angle. Contrast and colour saturations both hold up well, and provided you've not got the set's backlight set too high, there's not even much increased trouble with the light haloing effect that's usually seen with direct LED TVs when viewed from an angle.

Our only gripe with the 47LE8900's pictures, in fact, aside from the unspectacular standard-def upscaling, is that there seems a little more input lag around than console gamers might like, especially if they play online a lot.