Get connected for less with this sub-£1,000 42in Smart 3DTV
The entry-level Smart 3DTV sector is shaping up to be the hottest battleground for mass-market TVs. This year we’re seeing a wave of well-tooled tellies that appear to give away nothing to their more expensive brethren. You, dear buyer, are getting more tech than ever for your money. Typical of this value charge is the 42LA690V from LG. £900 (or less) will get you a 42-incher with high-quality Smart functionality and 3D-vision.
Connectivity is certainly broad. The set offers three HDMIs, one of which is MHL (Mobile High Definition Link)-enabled for smartphones, plus a trio of USBs, Scart, component and composite video plus Ethernet. Wi-Fi is ensconced. The TV comes with two controllers, a standard clicker and LG’s cursor-based Magic Remote. It also supports NFC and MiraCast for hooking up mobile devices wirelessly.
There’s been no big visual change to LG’s Smart portal this year, and it remains well-stocked with IPTV content, including BBC iPlayer, LoveFilm, Netflix, Blinkbox, YouTube, Knowhow Movies, Napster and (for culture vultures) the Berlin Philharmoniker; there are also dedicated Game World and 3D World areas. Video file support is comparably comprehensive. The TV spoons with all key codecs and wrappers, including WMV, AVI, MKV, MOV and MPEG. MP3s play back with album art.
So what’s the catch? As it transpires, the one area where LG has cut corners is picture processing. This budget panel offers only basic TruMotion manipulation, which means it can’t retain motion clarity much beyond 800 lines. Black level, while not panther-tastic, is solid enough; dark scenes are delivered without undue noise and there's tangible shadow detail. The visually demanding Troll BBQ sequence from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Blu-ray) appears crisp and dynamic, although the campfire fight sequence highlights motion blur.
The screen does at least manage to avoid the crushed blacks and high contrast which have typified LG sets in the past. Colours are luminous, with reds glowing toward orange, but this vibrancy isn’t unattractive. LED backlight consistency is a smidge uneven, but on a TV this size that’s not problematic.
This set’s Passive 3D performance is entertaining but directional. You have to view square-on and the sweet spot for crosstalk-free stereography is limited. The TV can also depth-convert 2D sources into 3D (although we’re still waiting on a compelling reason to do this). Four pairs of 3D glasses and two pairs of Dual Play eyeware, used to simultaneously display split-screen games, are supplied.
Audio quality is surprisingly robust, with a decent mid-range that promotes vocal clarity. A woofer on the rear adds depth, and there’s plenty of welly available for casual film viewing.
Overall, the 42LA690V is a good-value flatscreen with a formidable feature spec. You’ll need to hunt higher up the food chain for better image clarity, but there’s no quibbling with the generous applications and glam aesthetics. If you’re looking for a feature-rich 42in panel, it’s well worth an audition.
Price: £900 Approx
Highs: Well-built and attractive; superior online portal; mobile smart interactivity
Lows: Poor motion resolution; Passive 3D proves very directional
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