televisions

LG 42LV5500 Review

42 in.

The positives on the LG 42LV5500 LED LCD HDTV definitely outweigh the handful of flaws.

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Introduction

The LG 42LV5500 ($1099 MSRP) is packed with a lot of fun features that may sound good, but can distract from what a TV is supposed to do: deliver a good picture. Fortunately, the color performance cannot be beat. The poor implementation of local dimming certainly drew our ire, but the positives on this TV definitely outweigh the handful of flaws. It doesn't have the contrast performance of a similarly priced plasma, but its color results were great, plus it's sporting a delightful amount of connectivity options.

Design

The LV5500 isn't at the height of TV fashion, but it still looks good.

The LG 42LV5500 is an attractive TV, with all smooth lines and beveled edges. The glossy black finish is highly reflective, which may bother some people, and not only for its near-magical predilection for picking up fingerprints. There’s the additional distraction of a light on the lower right side that blinks every time you push a button on the remote. We tried to disable it, but to no avail.

The LG 42LV5500 is an attractive TV. Tweet It

The LG 42LV5500 ships with two remote controls: a more traditional type of remote and the new Magic Motion remote. The Magic Motion remote is quite different. It functions like a pointer: When you aim at the screen, a little icon appears and tracks your motion. There’s a certain novelty to it, but the overall interface is too slow to make this your primary remote.

The LG 42LV5500 comes ready to connect to a multitude of devices, both old and new. There are four HDMI ports, two USB ports, two component and two composite connections in the back. One of each uses the traditional RCA-type sockets and one of each uses a 1/8th-inch socket. LG includes adapters for the latter. There are outputs for both analog audio and digital audio, an LAN port, an RS-232C socket and a place to plug in your wireless control system for home theater universality. Also, included in the box is a thumb-drive-sized device that gives the LG 42LV5500 the ability to connect to a Wi-Fi network in your home.

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Smart TV Features

A great multimedia platform with a sensible and user-friendly approach.

The LG 42LV5500 has a healthy array of streaming content options split into two distinct categories. There’s a “premium” section and an Apps section. The premium content is just that—stuff you probably want. You’ll find Netflix, Vudu, Facebook, YouTube, and several more content providers and apps already pre-loaded. This page is customizable, as well, so you can download apps and bump them to the first page of the menu.

When you hit the Menu button on either remote, you arrive at a sort of “mission control.” The live video feed (via HDMI, composite AV, etc.) appears in the upper left corner. The rest of the screen is a menu of all the other types of media the TV has access to: premium content providers, LG Apps, local media like USB memory sticks, and a full web browser. We think this is a great setup.

Picture Quality

With top-notch color accuracy and a decent contrast ratio, this LG's picture is great.

There's a lot that's really great about the picture produced by this LG and only a few areas that detract from its overall performance. One of these areas is the addition of a permanent local dimming feature, which attempts to level the TV's backlight to aid in the production of darker shadow tones and brighter highlights. You can't turn it off, which irked us; it doesn't work very well. A tie-in with this feature is the LV5500's black level itself—it simply doesn't get very dark.

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Those minor problems aside, the LG 42LV5500 tested with excellent color accuracy and an acceptable contrast ratio. Its motion performance was great—everything that isn't film or film-based video content benefits from the TruMotion setting, which is user-adjustable. All in all, this LG produces a consistently high-quality picture that looks objectively correct. Videophiles, rejoice.

Conclusion

The LG 42LV5500 ($1099 MSRP) is a strong television in many regards, but we definitely prodded to find some weak points.

First the good news. Color performance doesn’t get much better than this. It will deliver exactly the colors that the movie and TV producers wanted you to see (provided you follow our handy calibration recommendations). Secondly, the multimedia options are excellent. LG did a great job creating a simple, easy to use platform that takes your TV beyond the living room and onto the internet for a myriad of streaming content and apps. So far, only the top-end Samsung TVs have matched them in this regard.

Now for the bad news. The LG 42LV5500 has a weak black level, like so many LGs we’ve reviewed. As a result, the contrast ratio is weak, especially when compared to similarly priced Sony and Samsung TVs. We can live with that, as the color performance is so damn good. Others may disagree.

Overall, the LG 42LV5500 may have its faults, but we heartily recommend it for the videophiles.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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