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A refreshing LCD TV
This big unit is designed for home theater enthusiasts and sports fans looking for a set to occupy a fairly well lit room (think bigger windows, plenty of sunlight). Can its faster refresh rate do a better job keeping up with the game?
- Fast 240HZ refresh rate
- Full HD 1080p resolution
- AV modes
- Picture Wizard calibration settings
- Average style and design
- Narrower viewing angle
Who it’s for
Home theater enthusiasts and sports fans looking for a set to occupy a fairly well lit room (think bigger windows, plenty of sunlight).
The LG LH55 is a higher-end, high-def set at the 55-inch mark with a Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080p. It is one of a new generation of high definition LCD televisions to offer a 240HZ refresh rate to power through sports and fast action movies without the motion blur that plagued earlier generations of LCD TVs.
The four-model LH55 series, LG's baseline 240Hz models, includes the 37-inch 37LH55, the 42-inch 42LH55, the 47-inch 47LH55 and the 55-inch 55LH55. The 37-inch set is the smallest 240Hz model we've heard of so far.
The LG LH55 weighs in at 71 pounds and measures in at 4.3 x 53.4 x 32.9 inches. At those dimensions, it’s not the thinnest or slimmest LCD on the block. Nor is it the most stylish, with a fairly straightforward, run-of-the-mill industrial design. On the plus side, it uses a hidden speaker system, which gives the TV a cleaner appearance. And of course, you can’t judge an LCD by its cover.
LCD TVs have typically struggled to display fast-moving objects. If an item streaked across the screen, it could leave a jarring trail of pixels in its wake. Faster refresh rates up to 240HZ and a feature called dejudder have helped LCD sets eliminate those pixel trails and deliver much smoother video when the action heats up. LG’s LH55 has built on those advances in the LH55 with its own “TruMotion” technologies to render smooth motion.
LG said it used a scanning backlight and a Super In-Plane Switching panel to enable the set to refresh at higher rates while also letting you view the picture from a greater variety of angles, but the viewing angles on the LH55 are not as wide as you’d enjoy on a plasma set. Still, with a 240HZ refresh rate, the LH55 is more than capable of tackling the sports and fast motion scenes that would have bedeviled older TVs. With 1080p resolution and a dynamic contrast ratio of 80,000:1, you’ve got a high quality, high definition package.
Among the more beneficial features of the LH55 is a built-in light sensor. The sensor detects ambient lighting conditions in the room and automatically adjusts the display to maximize performance under that light. The sensor also helps tamp down on the TV’s energy usage, helping it earn Energy Star 3.0 certification.
If you’re interested in seeing your environmental footprint in real time, hit the “energy saving” button on the remote control and you can view of graph of the LH 55’s consumption—which will either inspire guilt or awe at your environmental sensitivity.
Another intelligent feature of the LH55 is its AV mode selection. Much like digital cameras have scene modes to match camera settings to a shooting environment, the LH55 can make adjustments to its display based on the type of content you’re viewing. You have a choice of three AV modes: cinema, sports and games. Align the mode with your viewing habits and the TV adjusts both sound and visual features to maximize the TV’s performance.
LG included its Clear Voice II technology in the LH55. Clear Voice boosts the sound of human voices in a scene where the background noise is also getting louder. This keeps dialogue intelligible while things are exploding or all hell is breaking loose. Users can make their own tweaks to Clear Voice through a 12-step adjustable control.
One of the hidden burdens of HDTV ownership is calibration. The colors inside your flat panel set “drift” over time away from their original factory settings. The differences are subtle at first, but over time will lead to inaccurate colors. You can reset your TV’s colors by calibrating it and the LH55 offers several on-screen tools to make the job significantly easier than using third party devices. Using the “Picture Wizard interface, you can view reference points to several elements key to picture quality such as the TV’s color, tint, black level, sharpness and the levels of backlighting. Armed with those reference points, you can make any adjustments necessary to tweak your LH55 back into its optimal state.
If only it were self-cleaning.
The LH55 has three HDMI inputs, two component video jacks and a PC input situated on the rear of the panel. Tucked away on the side of the TV, you’ll find another HDMI input, an AV input and a USB port.
The USB port is there for connecting cameras and digital audio players to the TV. While it’s nice to have some camera and digital media playing option, I find a memory card slot is more convenient. After all, the last thing you want to mess with around the TV is more cables. The side HDMI port is useful, however, for connecting HD camcorders, which don’t always use flash memory cards.
LG’s LH55 is a solid LCD competitor in the still emerging class of 240HZ, 1080p panels. A basic design is offset by a nice array of features for making critical adjustments to the LCD. If you’re planning on cramming dozens around the couch for the big game, you may want to find a set with a better viewing angle. But for everyday use, it delivers the goods.