LG BH7420P 3D Blu-ray Player and 5.1 Home Cinema System Review

Mark looks at LG's All-in-One system that seems to offer remarkable value

by hodg100
Home AV Review

47

Recommended
LG BH7420P 3D Blu-ray Player and 5.1 Home Cinema System Review
SRP: £399.00

Introduction

We’ve seen quite a number of all-in-one systems, these past few months, from Panasonic’s SC-BTT590 to the Sony BDV-N590 through to LG’s own flagship, 9.1 speaker BH9520TW, not to mention the Samsung HT-E5530 and each has impressed, especially when the extremely attractive price-points are considered. Whilst the LG BH7240P we have here ‘only’ packs in 5 satellite speakers and a subwoofer, it is also a fully-fledged 3D capable Blu-ray and Smart TV box, like the BH9520. A quick glance at the LG UK website will reveal the suggested retail price at £399 – which seems like value – but, shop around, and you’ll find many online retailers stocking it for sub £300. Does not compute – what’s the catch? Is it possible a manufacturer can pack so much hardware in to a box, ask so little for it and yet still produce worthwhile results? There’s only one way to find out!

Design and Installation

The LG BH7240P bears a remarkable physical similarity to the Blu-ray/PVR combo, HR925M we recently reviewed with its appearance of being two units stacked but, like the 925, the effect is entirely illusory as it’s just a clever way to conceal the slot loading disc mechanism, which is fairly quiet during operation. Below the disc slot there’s a flip-down panel concealing a 3.5mm jack and a USB port that can also be used for connecting an iPod/iPad/iPhone. On the right hand side, at the top, is the display window and beneath that are some basic controls - eject, play/pause, stop, function, volume +/- and power. The rear panel reveals a fan, that can ramp up to noticeable levels when the units has been on for a while; two HDMI inputs and one HDMI output, an optical digital input; analogue stereo inputs; a composite video out; a LAN port and an antenna connector for the built-in FM tuner.

LG BH7420P

Naturally, the rear connection plate also features the terminals for the supplied satellite, centre and subwoofer speakers, which are all conveniently colour coded to make wiring a relatively straightforward process. There’s small amount of manual assembly of the front speakers required with the bottom slotting in to a base-stand and the top portion – that actually contains the audio electronics – sliding in to that. We have to say it’s at this point that the budget nature of the BH7240P starts to reveal itself as the construction doesn’t feel very sturdy and extremely ‘plasticy’. The front speaker portions feature a groove to the rear where the wires can be tidily inserted; and the base stand has an aperture to further aid cable management.

The supplied remote control is a reasonable lesson in simplicity although, again, it’s very lightweight. As well as all the usual Blu-ray/DVD transport controls - and a few simple ones for connected LG TVs – there are buttons for controlling the radio, changing the volume, adjusting the speaker levels and selecting sound effects.

Setup and Menus

Once the speakers are hooked up to the aforementioned colour-coded terminals, you’re good to go and LG has performed their usual excellent job of making the user menus a breeze to use. The Home Menu is split in to seven categories and there’s a customisable shortcut bar, at the bottom, where you can place your most used apps and features for easy access. The available options are Music, Movie, Photo, Premium, LG Apps, Input and Setup. Obviously if you choose Music you can listen to music files from any connected device, if you choose Movie you can watch video files and if you choose Photo you can look at your pictures. If you select Premium you can access LG's internet platform and if you choose LG Apps you can access the apps store. The Input selection kind of speaks for itself and provides the gateway to the HDMI 1/2, FM Radio, USB, iPod, ARC (Audio Return Channel), Optical In, Bluetooth, AUX and Portable connections.

LG BH7420P
LG BH7420P

We’d advise everyone to enter their speaker distances in the Audio Setup menu and then check that relatively volumes seem consistent between them using the Test Tone before using the system, in earnest, it makes a significant difference in getting the imaging right for the surround experience.

Elsewhere in the Setup Menu there are Sub-Menus sub-menus for Display, Language, Audio, Lock, Network and Others. We‘ll look at the Display and Audio sub-menus later, in the sections dedicated to video and audio performance. In terms of the other sub-menus, Language obviously allows you to choose the languages used for menus, subtitles and audio, whilst the Lock sub-menu allows you to set the parental locks and DVD and BD disc ratings. In the Network sub-menu, you can setup the wired or wireless connection, as well as features like BD-Live, Netflix and WiFi Direct. Finally the Others sub-menu allows you setup features like DivX, Network Play and software updates.

Features

The BH7240P houses LG’s excellent Smart TV internet portal, which is accessed via the Premium icon and features a selection of apps which are all very nicely presented in LG’s card format style. Among the apps available are BBC iPlayer, Netflix, YouTube, Acetrax, Dailymotion, Picasa, Cinetrailers, Viewster and LOVEFiLM.

LG BH7420P
LG BH7420P

For some reason we’re having no joy in using the Android LG Remote App at the moment, having recently experienced abortive attempts with the BP420 and HR925M but iOS users might have more luck. The same is also true of the Wi-Fi Direct function, which allows the display of media files from enabled devices; We could get our smartphone and the HR925M to see one another but that’s as far as it got, despite our best efforts.

LG BH7420P
LG BH7420P

We had far more success with media playback, however, and the HR925M’s listed support of MKV, DIVX, WMV HD, AVI, MPEG, AVCHD, XVID, MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC and FLAC media files stands up to scrutiny, whether streamed or via USB. The LG Apps store is well populated with a large selection of games, lifestyle and education widgets and the whole package really will smarten up a TV that’s more than a year or two old.

Video Performance

The Display sub-menu allows you to set all the options related to the Blu-ray player, including the TV Aspect Ratio, the Resolution, whether you want to output at 24p, the HDMI Colour Setting, the 3D Mode, the Wallpaper and you can turn the Home Menu Guide on and off. If you press the INFO/MENU button on the remote whilst you're watching a Blu-ray or DVD, you will get a series of selections, some of which can only be changed via this menu. In particular this applies to the Picture Mode, which can be found here and offers a choice of User, Movie, Standard and Vivid. In order to ensure the most accurate image you need to check you have selected Standard in the Options menu.

Once the playback options have been optimised, the LG BH7240P delivered exactly what we expected – spotless performance with 1080p Blu-ray, both with 2D and 3D discs. Viewing fodder during the review process included Mirror Mirror, Avatar and Jaws, as well as a number of familiar test scenes we use from a variety of movies in all our reviews and the BH7240 represented each with flawless colour reproduction and artefact-free perfection on our calibrated displays. Switching over to some 3D presentations saw us dabble with Happy Feet 2 (we have kids, honestly), Titanic and Hugo, all of which revealed the same pristine faithfulness to source with no induced stuttering, crosstalk or motion issues. We found discs to load with a pleasing swiftness and encountered no compatibility issues after updating to the latest software version.

It’s generally with material sent as an interlaced signal – which is predominantly with standard definition content, although there are some Blu-rays at 1080i – where the video processing sees its most challenging workout and here the LG 7240P also came up trumps. Running through a few tests; using the HQV DVDs the player was able to fully reproduce the SMPTE 133 resolution pattern, correctly scaling the full 576i/50Hz images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. Video deinterlacing results were also excellent and in the film cadence tests the LG BH7240 also performed flawlessly, correctly detecting the most common types 2:3 (NTSC - USA/Japan) and 2:2 (PAL - European). Slipping a few (mostly Disney, cough) test DVDs in to the slot confirmed the theoretical findings, with each displayed in the finest of fettle. Our limited collection of 1080i Blu-rays, although surely one can never tire of Stevie Wonder, was similarly represented to the best of the format's capabilities.

Audio Performance

If ever the build cost was going to detract from one part of the package, it was here, but the LG BH7240P punched a little above its weight, albeit with some compromises, for its sonic prowess. Fittingly for a package sold partly on its movie playback capabilities, it’s with this medium where it performs best. The BH7240P supports all the major HD audio formats and with the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track of Avatar, the LG 7240P produced an enveloping sound field, capturing effects with convincing precision and delivering a surprisingly conservative bass through the sub; low-end systems often mask their inability to produce nuance in the low frequency effects by upping the ‘boom factor’ but the restraint the LG showed at default settings was not an unwelcome surprise. Naturally, the volume of each of the speakers has its own volume control and we found no harm in raising the sub-woofer a notch above default – any more and you could sense it creaking under the pressure.

There’s a variety of ‘Sound Effects’ available via the remote control – Natural Plus, Natural, Bypass, Bass Blast, Clear Voice, Game, Night, Up Scaler, Loudness and User EQ – and we’d advise either sticking with Bypass to maintain the integrity of the original audio mix or – if confident – playing around with the User EQ. It’s with the mid to high range that the BH7240 betrays its entry-level status and there’s an almost brittle quality in the upper ranges that borders on being brash. Altering the ‘offending’ frequencies, i.e toning them down, definitely produced a more natural experience with the excellent audio of Happy Feet 2, that provides a good test of a system's ‘musicality’ as well as its ability to portray a convincing, wide soundstage and the BH7240P coped with both aspects well. In our test room, that’s approximately 15 x 12 feet, the speakers had no trouble filling the space without distorting but if you like it really loud, you’d probably be best advised to look a little more upmarket.

The LG BH7240P doesn’t really market itself on its musical playback abilities, despite the ‘mandatory’ support for iDevices, and it’s not going to satiate dedicated Hi-Fi lovers. Performance is somewhat mixed with CDs. For optimum stereo performance, again we’d recommend taking the Bypass or User EQ options but, even then, we could never get it sounding quite right over a variety of discs. First in we spun up the Artic Monkeys’ debut album that opened in overly bright fashion with the punk-funk of the first few bars of ‘The View from the Afternoon’ somewhat compromised by the shallow mid to high range performance and Turner’s vocals appearing a tad less grungy than we’d like. A switch of discs, and a switch of mood, saw the BH7240 struggling to cope with the sheer tonal glory that Eva Cassidy can deliver, nor keep pace with the pitch perfections of Ella Fitzgerald. A little more middle-of-the-road, yet still challenging because of the rich orchestration, Elbow’s ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’ wasn’t quite represented in ‘full colour’. The LG BH7240 is poppy and breezy and handles you’re average ‘Top 40’, over-produced, loudness war victim track just fine, but if you’re a lover of the finer things in life, we’d recommend an alternative outlet for your music collection.

A couple of minor complaints are the lack of a headphone socket and some longish delays in the audio coming through when changing channels on the TiVo and using the TVs built-in speakers; not that we would have expected much of a headphone out in an all-in-one at this price-point. All in all, the LG 7240P surprised in its competency with movies – particularly with the restrained sub - and didn’t at all shock with its musical qualities.

Verdict

7
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

The Good

  • Convincing 5.1 movie playback
  • Excellent with 2D/3D Blu-ray and DVD video
  • Extremely easy to set up
  • Loads of online features
  • Media playback support is generous
  • Price

The Bad

  • Not so hot with music
  • Front speakers feel flimsy
  • No headphone jack
  • Some audio lag when changing TV channels

LG BH7420P 3D Blu-ray Player and 5.1 Home Cinema System Review

The LG BH7240P is a nicely designed piece of kit, with the main unit sturdily built and attractively designed to resemble one unit stacked upon another. The front speakers feel a little flimsy, however, and on close inspection, very plasticy but we shouldn’t expect any more, considering the amazingly cheap prices the system can be had for online. Set-up is a complete breeze, thanks to the colour coded speaker terminals and we were ready to go about 15 minutes after unboxing. The Menu systems are crisp, clear and very easy to follow, making the set-up process that bit more user friendly. Features-wise, the LG BH7240P doesn’t disappoint with plenty of Video on Demand services on tap as well as a variety of social networking and gaming apps. Support for media files, whether streamed or via USB are as generous as the app options and we found it to pretty much play every video format we threw at it.

This being an LG unit, we were totally unsurprised to witness some excellent video processing. Both 2D and 3D Blu-ray were presented flawlessly, provided we stuck to the default, Standard Picture Mode. The reason why manufacturers bother to include viewing modes in their disc players continues to evade us. Naturally, it’s as much about the sound as the vision with an all-in-one system and the BH7240P proved no slouch with movies, delivering impressively precise effects and surprisingly restrained and tactful low frequency effects. OK, the subwoofer isn’t going to shake the room without distorting out of all recognition but it proved a surprisingly able little unit. Music listening didn’t provide quite such satisfaction, the lack of depth in mid to high end can detract from just about any piece and the BH7240’s performance airs a little too much to the bright and brittle to satisfy our musical needs.

There’s no doubt that the LG BH7240P represents absolutely excellent value for movie lovers on a budget. It’s not going to touch what a half decent separates system can achieve and nor can it get even close to being regarded as Hi-Fi but for sub £300, it’s hard to see how LG has managed to produce such a creditable not-so-little package.

Recommended

Scores

Build Quality

.
.
.
.
.
5

Connectivity

.
.
.
.
6

Ease of Use

.
.
8

Picture Quality

.
.
8

Sound Quality

.
.
.
7

Features

.
.
8

Value for Money

.
.
8

Verdict

.
.
.
7
7
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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