LG's new line-up continues to impress
What is the LG 42LB700?
It's been a surprisingly slow start to the year as far as TVs are concerned.Normally by now we would have reviewed most of the main TVs from the major manufacturers. However for some reason the majority of manufacturers, with the exception of Samsung, have been slow to get their latest models into the shops. Finally that's changing and we're able to get a better idea of where everyone stands in the 2014 pecking order. After a couple of missteps in recent years, LG appear to really got their act together and found a much better balance between design, technical innovation and cost. The LB700 range is a good example, with an attractive design, cutting edge tech and decedent level of build quality for the price.LG have included their 'ribbon' stand and made a concerted effort to improve the sound quality of their TVs this year. They have also persevered with the use of full array backlights and improved the local dimming. Whilst the inclusion of their webOS powered Smart+ platform is an evolutionary leap in terms of Smart TV. The 42LB700V is, as the prefix number would suggest, the 42 inch model but there are also 47 and 55 inch screen sizes. The 42LB700 retails for around £649, which is a great price point when you consider all that you're getting. So let's see if LG's LB700V series is as good as it looks on paper.
Design and ConnectionsThe LB700 uses a single sheet of glass at the front with the panel itself beneath, surrounded by a thin black border. There is a silver trim, a metal strip along the bottom and an illuminated LG logo that can be turned off. The entire chassis sits on LG's 'ribbon' stand which is both attractive and designed to help the audio performance; although it obviously can't be swivelled. The LB700 is attractively designed and well built, with a nicely engineered feel to everything.
As with other LG TVs this year, the LB700 uses a 1.5m power cable with an unusual three-pin connector. At the left rear are a combination of rearward and sideways facing connections. There are three HDMI inputs and three USB ports facing sideways and these are positioned 28cm from the edge, so you won't have to worry abut unsightly cables poking out from the side. Facing towards the rear you'll find aerial and satellite connectors, an Ethernet port, a headphone socket and various legacy connections.
The LB700 comes with LG's Magic Remote included and this is easily the best implementation of a motion remote control that we have tested. LG have been fine tuning this controller for a couple of hears and the current model is ergonomically designed to make it comfortable to hold and easy to use. It's also very accurate in terms of tracking motion on the screen and makes the perfect compliment to LG's new webOS powered Smart+ system.
LG continue to use their passive approach to 3D, which they have christened 'Cinema 3D' and thus include a couple of pairs of plastic passive glasses. The great thing about passive, aside from the lack of batteries and flicker, is that the glasses are very cheap and in fact, if you have any RealD glasses from the cinema, you can use those as well. You can also buy optional Dual Gaming glasses, which is another inventive implementation of the passive 3D technology.
MenusThe menu system has also been over-hauled to tie it in with the new webOS powered Smart+ platform. You access the setup menu by hitting the Home button and selecting the settings icon in the top right hand corner of the launcher menu. When you click on the setup icon, you get a menu that covers everything from Picture, Sound, Network, General, Security and Accessibility. There's also a Quick option, to guide the unfamiliar through the setup process.
In the Picture menu you select Picture Adjust, where you can access all the standard controls such as Backlight, Contrast, Brightness, Colour, Tint and Sharpness. There is a sub-menu for Expert Control with options for Dynamic Contrast, Super Resolution, Colour Gamut, Edge Enhancer, Colour Filter, Gamma, White Balance and a Colour Management System. LG also include ISF picture modes, along with their Picture Wizard, which is a handy tool for getting a quick and easy setup that's reasonably accurate.
The LB700 is another attractive and well made TV from LG, with plenty of great features.
FeaturesLG have been quite successful in their efforts to improve the sound on their TVs this year and the LB700 is another good example. The shape of the 'ribbon' stand and the positioning of the speakers appeared to help, as did the deeper chassis - 5cm at its thickest point. This means larger speakers and as a result the sound quality was very good, with the built-in dual speakers and woofer delivering a decent, room-filling sound. There was a reasonable sense of stereo separation and the volume could go quite high without distorting, whilst dialogue remained clear. If you want really good sound you'll have to invest in a soundbar or an all-in-one system but for general TV viewing the built-in sound is perfectly adequate.
The LB700 incorporates LG's new webOS powered Smart+ platform and it's as game changing as the early hype suggested. When you press the Home button on the Magic Remote, a launcher menu appears along the bottom. The system is incredibly intuitive and easy to use and by treating everything as an app that appears as a pop-up tag along the bottom, you can quickly switch from one thing to the next. If you scroll to the left, you go backwards through the apps you have previously opened and if you scroll forwards you can access all the apps. There is no need to go close one app or go to another page to access an app, you just select the one you want from the launcher and go straight into it. Since everything including Live TV, the TV Guide, the Time Machine (HDD recording) and the HDMI inputs are treated as apps, navigating from one to the other is simple, making it first system that feels like an integral part of the TV - you can read the full in-depth review here.
Once again LG have managed to deliver a genuinely accurate out-of-the-box setting.
As is always the case with LG TVs, the best picture mode to use from an image accuracy perspective is either of the ISF settings. These picture modes default to the best colour and white balance settings and turn the majority of the image processing, leaving a picture that will come closest to the industry standards. The are some some recommended settings posted here.
As we have seen with other LG TVs this year, the out-of-the-box accuracy on the LB700 was excellent, with the greyscale tracking extremely well. There was a tiny excess of green but the overall errors were all below the threshold of three and gamma was tracking around 2.3, which worked well. The colours were equally as accurate, with most hitting their targets for Rec.709 and only an error in the luminance of blue worthy of mention.
The white balance controls proved highly effective and because of the initial accuracy we just went straight to the 20-point control to fine tune the greyscale. We quickly had a reference performance in terms of greyscale, with equal amounts of red, green and blue, no discolouration and errors that are all below one. The LB700 also includes a CMS that allows for control of the hue, saturation and luminance of the primary and secondary colour, so we were able to improve the accuracy still further.
However, as with previous LG models we found that actually using the CMS introduced artefacts into the image but once the greyscale had been calibrated the colour accuracy was excellent, aside from the previously mentioned error in blue. The tracking of the colours at lower saturation points was also good, aside from an under-stauration in red and blue at the 50-75% range. This didn't really impact on the accuracy of the colours with actual viewing material and in our clipping tests the LB700 performed well.Black Levels, Contrast Ratio and Dynamic Range
The LB700 uses an IPS panel, which means it has a wider optimum viewing angle but the downside is that the native blacks aren't as good as a TV that uses a VA panel. Having said that, the blacks actually measured at 0.10cd/m2 which is pretty good for an IPS panel and the LB700 had no problems hitting 120cd/m2. The ANSI contrast ratio measured at 775:1 without using the local dimming, which is mediocre but the backlight uniformity was good, with an even appearance and no obvious clouding or bright corners and edges. There was some occasional banding visible on camera pans but for most viewing it wasn't apparent. The use of the local dimming didn't appear to affect the banding but in its Low setting it worked very well, resulting in images that had solid blacks but still managed to retain shadow detail.Video Processing
As we would expect from an LG TV, the video processing was excellent on the LB700. The deinterlacing and scaling was impressive, as was the motion adaptive deinterlacing and the LB700 had no trouble with 2:3 or 2:2 cadence. It also handled mixed film and video material well and was just as effective with 1080i content, deinterlacing the material without any issues. When we moved on to 24p content, the results were just as good and overall this was an excellent performance from the LB700. The motion handling was also reasonable, measuring around 300 on the FPD Benchmark Test. However, if you feel that motion has too much blur or judder for you tastes, then TruMotion can be be a very effective option. Although as always, we would never recommend using TruMotion with film-based material.
In the ISF mode, with all the extra processing features turned off, we measured the input lag at a hefty 109ms. However switching to the Game mode immediately got this down to a more respectable 47ms, which is fine for most people, although still rather high for the dedicated gamer. As with other LG TVs we've seen recently, renaming the input PC brought the lag down to a respectable 35ms, which is much better. We found gaming on our PS4 to be a hugely enjoyable experience with the LB700, the high-def graphics and higher frame rate were nicely rendered and motion was well handled without any apparent lag.
- Standby: 0W
- Out-of-the-Box – Normal Mode: 63W
- Calibrated – Professional Mode: 49W
- Calibrated - 3D Mode: 61W
LG 42LB700 Video Review
LG 42LB700 Picture QualityAfter turning on the LB700 and performing a basic setup, we could immediately see that the LG was producing an accurate and well defined image. This was confirmed by our testing and the overall greyscale and colour accuracy was excellent, even without resorting to the calibration controls. The video processing was also excellent, with standard definition TV broadcasts and DVDs being deinterlaced and scaled without any apparent artefacts. The same was true with the motion handling, which was perfectly acceptable for most viewing material, although the TruMotion feature is an option of things like fast moving sport. The LB700 handled 24p Blu-rays without any issues and the Full HD panel revealed every pixel of detail on reference discs like Oblivion and Gravity.
The combination of a full LED array backlight and local dimming was also quite effective, with the LB700 performing well during the day and at night. The blacks in dark scenes looked suitably deep without crushing detail and there was minimal haloing, as long as you stuck to the Low setting. The backlight was nicely uniform, with no apparent clouding or bright corners or edges, even in dark scenes when watching at night. In fact our only real criticism is the occasional banding that was visible with camera pans, usually when watching the football where the camera is constantly panning across the pitch. This seems to be a common issue with full array backlights, where the LED are directly behind the screen, but we'd probably prefer it to the clouding and bright corners of edge-lit displays.
The LB700 uses passive 3D, so you get all the usual advantages of that approach including cheap glasses, no batteries or recharging, no flicker and an absence of crosstalk. We really like the passive approach because it makes sense for smaller TVs, where the loss of resolution caused by the polarised filter isn't apparent at any sensible viewing distance. Just how immersive a 3D picture on a 42-inch will be is debatable but at least the 3D images were suitably detailed, with plenty of depth and real pop. Old favourites like Life of Pi looked suitably natural, motion was well handled and the lack of flicker or crosstalk meant that you were never distracted from enjoying the whole 3D experience. Now that the popularity of 3D is waning, the use of passive technology makes even greater sense due to its limited cost.
The LB700 is another solid performer, delivering an accurate picture and excellent video processing.
- Accurate colours and greyscale
- Good backlight uniformity
- Effective local dimming
- Impressive video processing
- Great 3D
- webOS is superb
- Attractive design
- Excellent build quality
- Wide viewing angles
- Decent input lag
- Native blacks are mediocre
- Occasional banding
- CMS still buggy
LG 42LB700V (LB700) TV ReviewThe LG 42LB700 is another solid TV from the Korean manufacturer, with a winning combination of design, picture quality, features and price. The design is minimalist but classy, meaning it won't look out-of-date in a year and the build quality is very high, especially for the price. The 'ribbon' stand can't be swivelled but it does seem to help with the sound quality, which was actually quite good on the LB700. The connections cover everything you'll need, there's built-in WiFi, some passive 3D glasses and a Magic Remote. The latter works perfectly with LG's webOS powered Smart+ system and the new platform continues to impress as the evolutionary leap that it is.
Of course, this all means nothing if the picture quality isn't up to scratch but thankfully the LB700 delivers a great performance right out-of-the-box. After a quick setup the image accuracy was immediately apparent with natural colours and great video processing. The use of a full array backlight means good uniformity, with only some occasional banding to spoil the party. The IPS panel provides a wide viewing angle and the local dimming deepens the blacks without crushing shadow detail or adding haloing. Motion handling was also good for an LCD panel and there's the option of TruMotion for fast moving sport.
As a result of getting all the basics right, the LB700 delivered a great picture with both standard and high definition content and Blu-rays, in particular, looked spectacular with accurate colours and plenty of detail. The use of passive 3D makes perfect sense given the formats waning popularity and the LB700 produced flicker-free images with plenty of depth. Overall the LB700 gets most things right and even throws in some state-of-the-art smart features for good measure. If you're looking for a new TV, the LG 42LB700V is worthy of inclusion on your short list.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level8
2D Picture Quality9
3D Picture Quality9
Ease Of Use10
Value for Money8
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