When the main feature being promoted by the maker of a new HDTV is its stylish black pearl finish, you automatically become suspicious that the underlying technology isn’t strong.
And so it was when we fired up LG’s new 42in LCD HDTV. Finished in deep shiny black with a stylish ring-shaped stand, the LB9 will look great in the lounge room. But when it comes to the picture, it’s an unusual package. As you would expect, HD content looks good on its full HD 1,920 x 1080p resolution screen, but upscaled standard definition (SD) TV is rubbish — jagged and full of artifacts, not to mention occasional screen shudder.
With the majority of TV still broadcast in SD, the ability of a high-def TV to rescale SD signals matters, and here the LB9 lets itself down. By contrast, some HDTVs do a tremendous job upscaling SD, such as the Philips WL8A HDTV we looked at in a previous comparison.
The overall picture quality of the LG places it among the current generation of LCD HDTVs rather than the newest, advanced crop which includes the Samsung HDTV reviewed here or the new Toshiba Regzas. On the positive side, the LG has an astonishingly fast screen refresh of 5ms, which is as fast as it gets for an LCD TV — sure to keep the jaggies down when watching sport. Its contrast ratio of 10,000:1 should make for deeper black levels, although we couldn’t see any difference to other TVs with lesser contrast ratios.
Our overall impression is that it’s trying to be a style/value contender, forgoing picture quality at the lower end to offer itself up as a big 42in LCD TV at around the $3,500 mark on the street.