LG HR925M 3D Blu-ray Freeview HD Recorder Combi Review

It's LG's turn to show what they can do with a multi-function box of tricks

by hodg100
Home AV Review

6

Recommended
LG HR925M 3D Blu-ray Freeview HD Recorder Combi Review
SRP: £349.00
We’re seeing an increasing number of these type of ‘all-in-one’ devices emerging from various manufacturers. We’re living in an age of convergence with a multitude of devices that can perform a multitude of tasks and with space at a premium, in many UK living rooms, the idea that a single box to satisfy the needs of viewing and recording HDTV, playing back both 2D and 3D Blu-ray, ‘upscaling’ the DVD collection whilst also acting as a media player and streamer is no doubt very attractive to some. Bolt on a wealth of video on demand services, throw a few apps in to the equation and we have the feature list of the LG HR925M nailed down. We took a look at the almost equivalent Samsung BD-E8500M back in August 2012 and that came up smelling of roses; can LG match the efforts of their bitterest rivals with the HR925M?

Styling/Build/Connectivity

Perhaps in a nod to its multi-functionalism LG has designed the HR925M to look like two units stacked with the recess that forms the illusion housing the slot-loading disc mechanism. The design makes the HR925M stand a little taller than the competition although that’s not necessarily a bad thing as it allows for better cooling and the unit never seems to get too hot. With time-shifting enabled we could detect the whirr of the built in 500GB Hard Drive but it was never distracting. Since writing this section, the disc mechanism started to fail during load time testing - we’ve always preferred tray loading mechanisms anyway!

The unit features four front mounted buttons on the fascia that are a little too clicky and cheap feeling for our tastes but they don’t overly detract from the feeling of solid engineering. The remote control is typical LG and despite the number of functions the box can perform, is very simply laid out; it’s also quite light and features a recess at the back for your index finger making it simple to use one-handed from a supine position on the couch – we tested this for you.

LG HR925M

Connectivity options are reasonably generous with that increasingly rare beast – a component video output – featuring alongside a HDMI port, composite video and stereo audio outs, a S/PDIF digital audio out and two USB ports – one to the rear and one concealed under a flap on the front panel. There’s also the antennae terminal to receive Freeview HD transmissions and a RF loop through in case you want to view from the TV's built-in tuner; you never know, there could be three things worth watching broadcast simultaneously – it might happen! The LG HR925M does feature built-in Wi-Fi but there’s also a LAN port for those that prefer wired solutions.

Menus

As with the well planned remote, LG has done an excellent job in making the HR925 very usable. Despite the range of options available the lovely user interface makes getting at what you want a breeze. From the Home Screen there are six major categories - DTV, Movie, Photo, Music, Premium, LG Apps and Setup. Below those, to the bottom of the screen, is a customisable bar where you can place shortcuts to favoured and most used apps and services. By default this is where you access recorded programmes and the Search facility that will scour the Video on Demand (VoD) services, YouTube, installed apps and the App store for your selections. It will also look at media stored on the hard drive but doesn’t seem to connect with storage or PCs on the network. It works quite well but tends to be a little on the slow side and it’s probably easier to look through the standalone mediums, in most cases. We’d like the Home screen even more if it hadn’t cut off both the video and audio from the tuner whilst we were browsing.

LG HR925M
LG HR925M

The Setup Menu is split in to 7 further sub menus – DTV, Display, Language, Audio, Lock, Network and Others. The DTV Menu allows for both manual and auto tuning, channel editing, enabling timeshift (play/pause/rwd of live TV) by default and whether to record to internal or external memory from the tuners. We would have liked to see a global padding setting for Freeview recordings as it’s a bit of a chore adding a few minutes at the start and end of recordings manually to make sure you don’t miss out when programmes are delayed, or even, begin ahead of schedule – again, this could happen!

The Display Menu allows setting of the TV Aspect Ratio and the Resolution. The 1080p Display Mode gives choices of 24p or 50Hz and it’s the former you want for almost all Blu-ray Disc. There’s also a choice of On/Off/Auto for the 3D Mode and a choice of YCbCr or RGB for HDMI colour space output – the HR925M defaults to the former which is probably going to be correct for the majority of users out there. The Audio settings allow for the Digital Output of both the optical and HDMI connections to be sent as PCM Stereo or Bitstream or you can allow the player to re-encode to DTS from HD audio for those without capable receivers. The HDMI connection can also be sent as PCM Multi-Channel. The other options include Sampling Frequency, with choices of 48, 96 and 192Khz, the option to engage DRC (Dynamic Range Control) for more restrained listening and an audio delay for the optical connection. Those with capable receivers can also enable DT Neo: 6 for pseudo-surround from stereo sources.

Features

The LG boxes don’t quite get all the Smart features afforded to their TV’s but anyone dissatisfied with what’s available in the HR925M, we’d class as hard to please. The HR925M 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 YouTube, Acetrax, Dailymotion, Picasa, Cinetrailers, Viewster and LOVEFiLM. Almost inexplicably, there was an absence of BBC iPlayer and Netflix that is present on other LG devices. We’ve contacted LG to ask about this and we’ll update the review when we know.

LG HR925M
LG HR925M

We weren’t able to get the LG Remote App – available for iOS and Android – working on either the BP420 blu-ray player we covered recently and, unfortunately, the same proved the case with the HR925, despite its being connected on our Wi-Fi network. 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 Android phone and the HR925M to see one another but that’s as far as it got, despite exhaustive attempts.

LG HR925M
LG HR925M

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 seems to hold true, 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. We were disappointed that the HR925M offered no access to LG’s 3D video streaming service, however, given it’s also a 3D player.

Freeview HD+ PVR

LG aren’t a particularly well-known brand in the Freeview PVR (Personal Video Recorder) sphere which was initially a worry; the software to run an effective dual tuner recording device is notoriously difficult to get right and we’ve encountered many a bug laden device in the past. If it’s not bugs, it’s usually irritating constraints on the potential of the devices imposed by the software that mar the experience but we’re happy to report that LG has avoided both pitfalls, almost completely.

LG HR925M
LG HR925M

Setting an event to record couldn’t be simpler; select a programme from the Electronic Programme Guide (EPG), hit the Red Button and you’re presented with options for Simple, Series, Split and Recommended. ‘Simple’ is, well, simple – it creates a single recording of the selection. ‘Series’ is almost as self-explanatory – it will record all the upcoming episodes of a programme. ‘Split’ caters for those annoying times where broadcasters stop a programme for the news, for example, and creates a single recording from the 2 broadcasts. Thankfully that trend seems to be on the wane but it’s a nice to have. The most mysterious of these options, ‘Recommended’, acts in a similar way to ‘Series’ only it records associated programing of the selection. For instance, Autumnwatch is currently running on the BBC; opting for ‘Recommended’ from the dialogue means that Autumnwatch Unsprung got picked up to record. We’d assume the same would hold true for the likes of ‘Strictly’ and ‘X Factor’ but we didn’t try it with them; just in case it worked!

Features like the above are as dependent on the broadcasters implanting the right metadata in to the EPG and, predictably, the BBC lead the way in their implementation. Credit also goes to Channel 4, who seem intent on making Freeview HD+ a serious rival to paid-for TV from the likes of Virgin, BT and, particularly, Sky who lead the way in providing useful features and a more diverse viewing experience. For the forgetful, or those that just plain ignore the HD channels on Freeview, selecting an SD programme to record where a HD version exists should result in the HR925M asking whether you would like to record in the superior format. Again, it’s down to the broadcasters to supply the information to the box so that proved a touch hit and miss. Actually, more miss than hit with , seemingly, only the Beeb bothering to do so.

LG HR925M
LG HR925M

Once programmes are recorded - or a recording is in progress – they are simply accessed from the ‘Shortcut Bar’ in the Home Screen. It is perfectly possible to ‘Chase Play’ – begin watching a programme from the beginning before the recording is complete – and there were also no issues with recording two programmes simultaneously. We bombarded the HR925M with a series of consecutive recordings, series and recommended records, as well as single event, and it barely skipped a beat. We lost the start of one programme owing to a late finish in the preceding event but there is the option to manually ‘pad’ recordings from the Timer record list in the EPG. It would be far more elegant to have a global padding option in the Menu that would allow for, say, 5 minutes before/15 after but at least it’s easy to make sure you don’t miss the end of a live broadcast. The maximum recording length is 6 hours so that’s most bases covered. It’s worth noting that ‘Timeshift’ isn’t enabled by default on the HR925M – presumably as an energy saving measure - so to ensure you’re able to pause, rewind and fast forward live TV you’ll need to enable it in the DTV area of the Setup Menu.

All in all, the LG HR925M can most certainly be classed as a proper dual tuner PVR and not some tacked on afterthought or a makeweight to bolster the multi-function credentials. Great work LG!

3D and 1080p Playback

Those that have read the LG BP420 Blu-ray player review can look away now, as we make no apologies for conducting simultaneous testing using the same materials. Predictably the two units share the exact same video processing prowess. It should come as no surprise to discover that the overall 3D performance of the HR925M was excellent with the content playing flawlessly. Picking, at random, the 3D versions of Happy Feet 2, Monster House, Titanic and Grand Canyon Adventures, we encountered no firmware issues, added crosstalk or any other unwanted artefacts affecting picture quality.

As with the 3D performance, the digital nature of the content means that any Blu-ray player capable of outputting 1080p24 should – as near as damn it - be identical to any other when using the HDMI output. Irritatingly, the manufacturers seem hell bent on adding picture mode options to their players when they should just be concentrating on delivering products that maintain the integrity of the information on the disc but at least the LG HR925M defaults to the neutral ‘Standard’ Picture Mode, which showed next to no measured deviation from numerous Blu-ray playback options we have at our disposal. The User option is similarly ‘content friendly’ but the Movie and Vivid modes need to be avoided – Vivid over-emphasise the colour palette, clips detail near white and generally makes things too bright and gaudy; Cinema pretty much does the opposite.

Further testing revealed the LG HR925M to be correctly output the video without any issues as demonstrated by the multiburst and zone plate patterns on our Spears & Munsil disc. The images produced were excellent with all the Blu-rays we watched showing plenty of fine detail and appearing free from any undue judder.

1080i Playback

As ever it’s with interlaced and standard definition content where the mettle of a players’ video processing prowess is really tested and the HR925M was not found wanting. The ability of the player to detect film content inside the interlaced signal and correctly deinterlace it, without introducing artefacts, is not a trivial task. As we saw in the recent reviews of the BH5320F and BH9520TW all-in-one systems, LG's proprietary video processing is exceptionally good and the player passed all the popular cadence tests on both our Spear & Munsil and HQV Blu-ray discs, as well as some not so popular.

We also used the HQV Blu-ray disc to check the quality of the video deinterlacing. This disc has a jaggies pattern that uses three rotating bars and all three bars were kept smooth with no aliasing. The 925 also had no problems with the video resolution loss test, correctly processing the moving portion of the image and leaving the background free of artefacts. The LG was also able to handle discs with film content that is encoded at 1080i/50Hz without any problems. We’ll admit to not owning that many Blu-ray discs mastered at 1080i but those we do – a Stevie Wonder concert and Gangster No.1 – played flawlessly.

Standard Definition Playback

As with the 1080i content the HR925M benefits from LG's excellent video processing when dealing with standard definition content. Using the HQV DVDs the player was able to fully reproduce the SMPTE 133 resolution test, correctly scaling the full 576i/50Hz images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. Video deinterlacing results were also excellent, the HR925 reproduced the rotating line without producing any jaggies, even at the most extreme angles. In the motion adaptive deinterlacing test the performance remained superb with all three moving lines being reproduced correctly, even on the bottom line.

. The LG’s performance was equally impressive with the film detail test, correctly locking on to the image resulting in no aliasing in the speedway seats behind the race car. In the cadence tests the LG also performed flawlessly, correctly detecting the most common types 2:3 (NTSC - USA/Japan) and 2:2 (PAL - European). The 925 also had no problems with the test displaying film material with scrolling video text, the text was always clearly readable without any shredding.

It’s all very well the players passing a selection of test materials but, of course, it’s the handling of real world content that really counts. Our need to ‘resort’ to standard definition, disc based content lessens by the day but the kids generally have to make do (unless it’s a title the grown-ups secretly covet) with DVD. Popping an eclectic mix of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Ice Age 3 and The Wizard of Oz in to the player revealed the fruits of the excellent SD processing with each displaying in as much glory as the format allows.

Disc Load Times

We’ve often expressed our preference for tray loading mechanisms over the slot type in the HR925M, not because they are inherently quicker to load but we think they’re more reliable. Evidence of this came right at the last moment of testing as we’d just got the stopwatch out when the drive began to fail as it became very temperamental about both reading and accepting discs. Before the malfunction, we clocked a DVD at being ready to play at 45 seconds and a Blu-ray disc in 31 seconds so what results we did get, were quite reasonable.

Energy Consumption

  • Standby: 0.0W
  • With Timeshift enabled: 19W
  • Timeshift set to manual: 17.9W

Verdict

8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

The Good

  • Spot on Blu-ray delivery
  • Well refined Freeview+ PVR
  • DVD's are scaled very well
  • Excellent feature-set
  • Menus and Remote are superbly designed

The Bad

  • Might seem pricey against the competition
  • Two major VoD services missing
  • Disc mechanism couldn't handle the pressure

LG HR925M 3D Blu-ray Freeview HD Recorder Combi Review

The LG HR925M is styled to look like two devices stacked, which is a clever acknowledgement of its multi-function capabilities, although it’s really just a way of hiding the slot loading disc mechanism which sadly died on us during the last stages of testing. The remote is of a more simplistic design but none the worse for that as it manages to put all the buttons in all the right places without overwhelming the user. The same can be said of LG’s excellent menu system which also plays on the user-friendly ethos to great effect, despite the huge array of options available. Connectivity is more or less what you would expect in such a device save for an increasingly rare component video output.

It would take a cold heart not to be impressed by the amount of features LG cram in to their Smart portfolio and although there was a mystifying absence of BBC iPlayer and Netflix, there’s still a ton of VoD services to get your teeth in to. Not only that, media streaming and playback from USB storage proved extremely robust and we’d wager most of your file collection should be handled fine by the HR925M.

We approached the testing of the Freeview+ PVR abilities of the HR925 with some trepidation. LG aren’t yet a major player in the PVR market and we’ve seen dozens of them, from other manufacturers, that have failed to live up to expectations; tripped up either by annoying software bugs or limitations. Not so with the LG that proved an excellent and reliable recorder featuring all the bells and whistles that Freeview HD+ brings – Series record, Recommendations, Bookings – as well as the more prosaic dual tuner recording, timeshifting, chase play and all the convenience they bring to the table.

As hoped and expected, at default settings, the LG HR925M added none of its own influence to 1080p Blu-ray discs. We checked with the relevant measuring equipment and patterns as well as real world material well known to us and found near identical output to a range of other BD spinners we have about the place. The same was equally true for 3D Blu-ray discs but where the processing gets to truly show its abilities – with interlaced and standard definition content – the LG BP420 was not found wanting either with some excellent scaling and deinterlacing capabilities.

In comparison to some of the competition the LG HR925M might be seen as a little pricey. Both the Panasonic DMR-PWT420EB and Samsung BD-E8500M carry lower suggested retail prices for highly comparable specifications, so if you’re in the market for one of these devices it would be worth auditioning those too. However, the LG HR925M is certainly an excellent all-rounder – well conceived, carefully designed and thoroughly effective in the execution of its varied duties. It’s a comfortable AVForums Recommended Award!

Recommended

Scores

Build Quality

.
.
.
7

Connectivity

.
.
.
7

Ease of Use

.
.
8

Picture Quality

.
.
8

Sound Quality

.
.
8

Features

.
9

Value for Money

.
.
.
7

Verdict

.
.
8
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

Our Review Ethos

Read about our review ethos and the meaning of our review badges.

To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.

Related Content

Damson S-Series Dolby Atmos System Review
  • By Greg Hook
  • Published
LG LHB745 All-in-One System Review
  • By Steve Withers
  • Published
Samsung HT-J7500W Home Theatre System Review
  • By hodg100
  • Published
Samsung HT-J7750 Home Cinema System Review
  • By hodg100
  • Published
Philips Fidelio E5 All-in-One System Review
  • By hodg100
  • Published

Latest Headlines

Samsung applies for Q-Symphony trademark for TVs and soundbars
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
AVForums Podcast: 18th November 2019
  • By Phil Hinton
  • Published
ATC launches C1 Sub Mk2 active subwoofer
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Best Home AV Products 2019 - Editor's Choice Awards
  • By Steve Withers
  • Published
AVForums Podcast: 11th November 2019
  • By Phil Hinton
  • Published
Top Bottom