LG 42LG60 LCD HDTV Page 2
TruMotion is LG’s name for its 120-Hz motion-smoothing feature. When TruMotion is off, the display simply repeats each frame in a 60-frame-per-second (60-Hz) source five times. (Interlaced sources are first deinterlaced to 60 fps.) When TruMotion is on, it adds interpolated frames to convert 60-fps sources to 120 fps (120 Hz). TruMotion first adds 3:2 pulldown to a 24-fps source to convert it to 60 fps, then adds the interpolated frames to achieve 120 Hz.
However, frame interpolation has side effects that you might not like. I will discuss these side effects later on in this review.
The LG’s video processing performance is among the best I’ve seen. When it converted standard-def sources (480i) to the panel’s native 1080p resolution, it turned in good to excellent scores, over both HDMI and component. The only exception was the waving-flag test, where critical viewing revealed some jagged edges. When I asked the LG to convert high-definition 1080i sources to 1080p, it tripped up only once, with slight moiré on the brick Vatican walls in chapter 7 of Mission: Impossible III. Otherwise it ranged from good to excellent. The 42LG60 demonstrated optimum deinterlacing on film- and video-based 1080i material and properly handled the 3:2 pulldown with 1080i film-based sources.
The set’s color performance was excellent, even when I didn’t use the user menu’s 10-point color temperature option and CMS. I did most of my viewing and other tests in the Cinema mode. I adjusted its settings as needed and calibrated the set’s white balance/color temperature in the code-protected service menu. Fleshtones looked completely natural, except when they were altered by the variations common in program material. Greens were thankfully less Crayola-like than you’ll see on most digital HDTVs.
At first I found the picture to be creamy-looking in a way that will please most viewers. But I also got the sense that the display was smoothing out subtle detail. This was more evident with standard-def material, even when I used a good upconverting player to externally convert the source to 1080p before I routed it to the display.
Once I fiddled a little more with the setup, the results improved. The Sharpness control operated in an unusual fashion. At low settings, it significantly softened the image. Then, around a setting of 30 (out of a maximum of 100), it started to add edge enhancement without first passing through a zone of natural sharpness. A setting of 40 proved to be the sweet spot on the review sample.
Standard definition now looked fine. It looked a little less crisp than the best I’ve seen, but it was perfectly acceptable. On high-def material, the LG’s resolution more than held its own. While Legends of Jazz: Showcase (Blu-ray) was just a gnat’s hair shy of the crispness I’m used to on this very familiar disc, no one could call it soft. I could clearly read the label on the AKG C 414 microphone in the Dave Valentin cut “Obsession.” And I had no complaints at all with the detail on Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut, one of the best-looking Blu-ray releases of the past year.
False contouring was rarely an issue. Off-axis viewing looked average for an LCD. I wasn’t particularly impressed. It’s OK if you’re sitting on a couch 10 feet or more from the screen, but the image starts to fade when you move further off to the side.
The 120-Hz TruMotion feature virtually banished motion lag and smear. In doing this, it appeared to soften the picture slightly and make film-based material resemble video. Both of these side effects are common to motion-smoothing features I’ve seen on other 120-Hz sets. You may find this an acceptable trade-off for the motion benefits. For me, it made the movie look like the editor lost the film and produced the final cut from a 60-fps HD video used on-set for a quick replay of each take.
The one unresolved issue I have with the 42LG60 is the persistent nemesis of LCD displays: poor black levels and mediocre shadow detail. However, among recent sets I’ve tested, the LG was well below average. It was inferior in this regard to the much less expensive Sceptre and Westinghouse displays we took a look at in July’s “Warehouse Wonders” story.
I experimented extensively with the Backlight, Black Level, and Fresh Contrast controls, and that did help. A Backlight setting of 15, Black Level set at Low, and Fresh Contrast turned off produced the best numbers. With these settings, the image did not look unacceptably dim in a darkened room. But the picture lacked punch, and many viewers would find it too drab and flat-looking at those settings. A Backlight setting of 25 and Black Level and Fresh Contrast set at Low perked things up considerably without being over the top. But some bright programming did look a little too vivid with Fresh Contrast engaged, even in the low setting. The high setting always looked processed and over the top to me. Fresh Contrast also crushed the blacks, but a couple of upticks in the Brightness setting (with Fresh Contrast set at Low) easily solved that problem.
With these settings, the 42LG60’s black-level issues were rarely evident with mid- to high-brightness programming. Since the eye uses the bright part of the image as its reference, it can’t judge blacks well on bright material. When the dark areas of the image start to dominate, the dark and black areas on the LG were a medium gray. The low-level details looked washed out, and the picture looked like the action was taking place in a light fog. The tough belowdecks scenes at the beginning of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (DVD) were not convincing at all.
With its excellent video processing, fine color, great color adjustability, and good detail, the LG is poised for the LCD wars that rage in the aisles of video retailers.
But it needs one additional weapon to prevail. Its blacks need to be deeper. Without that, this otherwise solid performer doesn’t stand out from the crowd.
Excellent SD and HD video processing
120-Hz feature defeats LCD image lag—but kills the film-like look on movies
Blacks and shadow detail are below average, even for an LCD