Integrated satellite TVs have experienced a renaissance under Freesat, with Panasonic's impressive Viera line into its second generation and this, the first of LG's hi-def Freesat screens, the 42LF7700.
It's based on the top-end LG7000 range, with almost the same Full HD 1080p spec, and has siblings in 32in, 37in and 47in.
All share the same glossy black design, with a smoked-plastic lower bezel that also helps direct sound from the invisible woofers. Unlabelled touch-sensitive input, menu, OK, volume and programme buttons are hidden on the right side.
It's well-specified for connections: three version 1.3 HDMIs, component video in, two bidirectional Scarts (one has RGB in), composite video in, two sets of stereo audio inputs, headphone jack, USB in, Ethernet port, and Freeview (DVB-T) and Freesat (DVB-S2) aerial inputs.
A common interface slot supports Setanta's Freeview channel, and the USB 2.0 can be used to access JPEG pictures and MP3 audio files from mass storage devices.
A wizard guides you smoothly through first setup and tunes both Freesat and Freeview channels. Your postcode defines local BBC and ITV Freesat channels; you can change the BBC setting later, but not ITV.
This is crucial if you want to watch ITV HD in Scotland; STV hasn't bought into ITV HD and you'll have to enter an English postcode.
Non-Freesat channels and other ITV regions can be added manually; the Freesat button switches between the two modes, and the Freeview button switches between analogue and digital terrestrial tuners.
You can enter your own transponder details but there's no support for other satellites or DiSEqC. The Setup menu changes dynamically, so you can only tune terrestrial TV if you're already in Freeview or analogue mode, Freesat in Freesat mode and so on.
A Quick Menu gives fast control of aspect ratio, eco-mode, picture mode, audio modes, sleep timer, marked favourites, and files on external storage.
A standard Freesat EPG and channel list give a choice of all channels, a single favourite channel list, or Freesat's 11 genres, and LG has mimicked it in the Freeview menus. You can also navigate through the channel list, by genre, sorting channels alphabetically, or in Freesat's order.
The Picture menu offers six preset modes and the Intelligent Sensor II setting, which uses a light sensor to automatically adjust the backlight for greater contrast. In combination with the Auto Energy Saving level (other levels are also available) this should achieve the best balance of picture quality and efficiency.
There's no evidence of smearing or motion blur, and the panel is sharp overall with rich colours. The Full HD panel is an improvement over HD Ready, even with 1080i or 720p signals.
But SD Freesat channels looked slightly more grainy, soft and noisy than the HDMI signal from Sky+HD. With BBC HD, LG's tuner delivers a signal that's sharp, but again noticeably noisy in comparison.
The panel displayed surprisingly good details in dark scenes, although true blacks don't reach plasma standard. We also had a problem with the backlight crudely adjusting to match the image brightness, which LG assured us would not be seen in the retail product.
Audio is reasonable for a flat TV, and the 'invisible' subwoofer combines with eye-level tweeters for a reasonable mid-range experience.
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