Here today, I have the LG 42SL9000, which is LG's premium 42” LCD HDTV. At this level, you'll find LED sidelighting illuminating the picture (rather than fluorescent backlighting tubes), the usual 1920x1080p resolution, a “one sheet of glass” design, and all of this in an outrageously thin package. Let's see how it does!
Styling and Connections
Menus & Setup
The “Expert Control” menu houses the main calibration options. I've explained what the controls here do in many other LG reviews before, but just briefly, the important controls are for Gamma, Real Cinema (film cadence detection), as well as the Greyscale controls and Colour Management System.
LG's Colour Management System is not state-of-the-art: it offers control over the Saturation and Hue of all six Primary and Secondary colours, but not their Luminance. It's a very good degree of control, but it's only part of the puzzle. However, we may not need this level of control if LG's display is accurate in this regard already.
In terms of Colour, the display was already doing an excellent job. There were no unforgivable Hue errors, and most of the colours were saturated to the correct amount (although Blue shows a large error). This is a solid out-of-the-box performance and bodes very well indeed for the Calibrated result.
Colour fared very well indeed. As mentioned, the 42SL9000 only features a 2D CMS. In this instance, the Hue control effectively operates on its own, but the “Colour” control affects both Saturation and Luminance, so some calibration compromises were necessary. As you can see from the chart, some of the Saturation levels are actually less accurate than they were pre-Calibration, a necessary error introduced in order to correct Luminance levels (which, as you can see from the “Delta Luminance” portion, are basically non-existent). However, the combined errors are all under 1, except for Red, which is just slightly over.
This is an absolutely exceptional set of results, and just goes to show what can be accomplished when manufacturers provide suitable amounts of control over the hardware they sell us. Congratulations, LG!
Like most of the LG TV line, the 42SL9000 did a good job of scaling SD content to the HD panel size. The scaling wasn’t as crisp as the best devices, but there’s also not a lot of ringing around high frequencies either, which is a good trade-off. (Some displays have a lot of ringing AND look blurry, the worst of both worlds, so LG’s is at the better end of the scale).
When it comes to diagonal interpolation, the LG delivered fair, but not exceptional performance. “Diagonal interpolation” describes the processing whereby the TV’s video processor smooths jagged lines during the conversion of Interlaced video to the TV’s Progressive panel. The 42SL9000 processed this content in such a way that small jaggies are sometimes visible on the test patterns and in real world content.
Finally, in terms of Film Mode detection, the 42SL9000 performed admirably. For the technically inclined, the TV passed the 2-2 PAL, 2-2 NTSC, 2-2-2-4, and 3-2 cadences, when the “Real Cinema” mode is turned on. For those of you scratching your heads, this just means that when the TV is fed an interlaced, standard-def signal (like you get from an older, non-upconverting DVD player, or a TV signal), then the TV switches into Film Mode to avoid throwing away vertical resolution.
The 42SL9000 performed strangely in input lag measurement tests. At all times, the TV would lag by a moderately lengthy 49ms, which will be noticeable to more attentive gamers. What’s interesting is that enabling the Game Mode or the PC Mode didn’t cut this number down any. Selecting the later of these options bypassed some image processing functions, but the delay remained the same.
Interestingly, for the gamers out there who also happen to be die-hard videophiles, it’s not possible to get 4:4:4 (full chroma resoluton) input on this TV, so small coloured details will be slightly blurred at all times in a similar way to images from Blu-ray and DVD. This is interesting, because the step-down 42SL8000 model delivered full chroma resolution when it was correctly configured to do so, as well as less input lag.
After calibration, the LG 42SL9000 doesn't employ any sort of auto-dimming, a feature which plagued the LED-centric Samsung UE46B8000 LCD TV. Because the sidelighting remains constantly on, power consumption is constant, too, and depends on the “Backlight” setting. In my viewing environment, I left this at “50”, for the record. Below, you can see some sample measurements which reflect different Backlight settings.
Backlight at 0: 52 watts
Backlight at 20: 74 watts
Backlight at 50: 104
Backlight at 80: 133 watts
Backlight at 100: 153 watts
The good news though is that the display puts out a highly accurate image (provided you’re viewing face-on, due to the aforementioned viewing angle limitations), and that there are no stand-out motion issues, except for the usual LCD blur, which is simply a limitation of the technology. Some other LCDs have issues where certain colours leave more noticeable blur than others, but here, everything is largely uniform.
Like the SL8000, the 9000 has no issues when fed with 24p content. Motion is reproduced cleanly, without judder. There is no distracting auto-dimming (except when you switch to a channel that’s not in service, a good idea from a power-saving point of view), so the light output of the panel remains consistent during actual viewing.
- Outstanding Greyscale reproduction (post-calibration)
- Near-perfect Colour reproduction (post-calibration)
- SD video processing is of a high standard
- Gorgeous design
- Adds nothing over the cheaper SL8000 model
- Black level and viewing angle are still lacking
- Input lag of around 50ms may be an issue for hardcore gamers
LG SL9000 (42SL9000) LED LCD TV Review
My main issue with the 42SL9000 is simple: I don’t really see the point of it when LG already have the 42SL8000 available for less money. The company promotes this 9000 model as an “LED TV”, whereas the 8000 model is simply an “LCD”, so is this simply a case of LG jumping on the bandwagon and making sure they have some way to profit from the public misinformation about LED backlighting technology? For the readers who aren’t yet in the know: “LED TVs” are not the next-generation devices some manufacturers would lead you to believe, but are simply LCD displays with a different backlighting system to illuminate the picture.
Both the SL8000 and SL9000 TVs feature excellent calibration controls and are superbly thin, but the 8000 model is cheaper and features less input lag for gamers. As a result, although the SL9000 is not a bad display, it’s not really clear where the extra money is going.
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