LG 52LBX LCD TV Real-World Performance
How ironic that among the first real programs I watched straight thorough on the LG was The Green Land, a Discovery HD special about—where else?—Greenland. The 52LBX's oversaturated greens were very evident in this beautifully shot nature documentary, which shifts from slightly sepia, soft-focus reenactment scenes of Eric the Red to tack-sharp modern landscapes. During spring and summer, this really is a green land, made even more so by the LG. The grass surrounding a sea eagle's breathtaking cliff-side nest looked like the fake plastic plants you see in a fish tank—so intense, it practically glowed.
Another nature show that produced more winces than awe on the LG was the "Jungle" episode from the Planet Earth Blu-ray boxed set. Many scenes in this spectacular program portray a riotous pallet of different greens, from almost yellow to nearly black. On the LG, everything seemed shifted up the spectrum, with the brightest hues looking like they are being illuminated by a black light.
Perhaps because the rocky New England countryside doesn't contain much green, the LG showed itself to better effect on the HBO miniseries John Adams, which my entire family enjoyed in HD courtesy of our Verizon FiOS DVR. Carefully researched Revolutionary-period details abound in this show, ranging from clothing to weapons to the gruesome ravages of smallpox.
The LG did a good job of sweeping us into the action, placing us in situations ranging from vistas of Adams' beloved Massachusetts farm to the claustrophobic confines of his sickroom in Amsterdam. Especially notable are the many beautiful exterior shots of France, England, and Amsterdam, all of which were actually filmed in modern-day Hungary. Many of these scenes resembled a painting, which I'm sure was the cinematographer's desired effect. I certainly have no complaints about the LG's ability to render red, and everything from the founding fathers' skin tones to the infamous red coats of the British soldiers looked properly saturated and natural.
Watching without 1:1 mode engaged definitely took a toll on overall image sharpness with all 1920x1080 sources, including 1080i programs from the DVR and 1080p Blu-ray discs. While the difference might not be apparent at first to the untrained eye, anyone who has watched many other high-end LCD TVs will eventually recognize that something is missing. That something is the sense of "looking out the window"—a sharpness and snap that the best HD pictures convey.
I spent some time looking at the kitchen scenes in Ratatouille on Blu-ray with and without 1:1 mode engaged. Switching back and forth is clumsy due to the number of keystrokes involved, and getting everything set up correctly is made even more difficult because the "PC" mode requires a higher brightness setting than all the other options.
Once 1:1 mode was properly engaged, the picture really popped with a 1080p source. Textures such as rough bricks on a wall, shiny floor and wall tiles, stainless-steel countertops, and well-scrubbed copper pots all seemed more solid and realistic.
The most dramatic improvement was the overall sense of depth—with foreground objects more fully and sharply in focus, the picture's apparent depth of field increased. This really enhanced the scene in which Remy wildly attempts to escape from the kitchen. The action takes place mostly from Remy's point of view, and the 1:1 mode's wider depth of field helped convey just how vast such a space might appear from a rat's perspective. When Remy looks up at the open window, I could sense his desperation—it's way off in the distance, high up on a wall. For a rat, it might as well be a million miles away.
More problematic was 1080i from the DVR, which cannot output 1080p. In this case, there was a half-inch-wide, bright-green vertical bar on the right side of the screen and a half-inch-wide vertical band of distorted image on the left. Changing the input's label to anything but "PC" corrected these problems, but it also disengaged 1:1 mode. This could have been due to some unusual interaction between the DVR and the TV, but I was unable to watch any broadcast programs in this configuration.
I wanted to see if this was endemic to all 1080i sources when the TV is in its 1:1 mode, so I tried sending 1080i from the Blu-ray player. In this case, there was no green bar or distortion, but the picture had none of the extra snap I saw with 1080p. In other words, 1:1 mode did not improve the sharpness of 1080i signals appreciably.
Turning to my favorite 480i torture-test DVD, the opening sequence of Star Trek: Insurrection looked very good (within the limitations of 480i resolution, of course), especially with TruMotion engaged in its High setting. The pan over the Ba'ku village is nice and smooth, though not without mild jaggies on the diagonal rooftops. TruMotion did cause some momentary artifacts when the boy jumps out of the haystack, but overall, the picture was vastly better with it than without.
One problem that became apparent in day-to-day viewing was some non-linearity in the panel's brightness. Every time a light background was on the screen—sky, ocean, or even the cityscapes in Tracey Ullman's (no relation) hilarious Showtime special, State of the Union—a few vertical stripes or patches became apparent, each a few inches wide, where the screen was a bit darker than elsewhere. And once I noticed these dark areas, it was hard not to see them. I've not seen this problem on other LCD TVs I've reviewed.
I must also report seeing, for the first time in my experience, a stuck pixel. It was a red one, and considering its tiny size, it was amazingly bright and obnoxious. It appeared out of nowhere while we were watching Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest on Blu-ray, and once seen, was impossible to ignore. Stepping up to the screen to examine this phenomenon at close range, I reached out and gently tapped a fingertip on the offending red dot. Much to my amazement and delight, the pixel disappeared. However, at the very end of the review period, it reappeared, and the tapping technique was ineffective this time.