Having recently injected new life into the small-TV market with the glamorous 22LU4000, LG wants to add more quality to its range of diminutive sets with the 22LU5000: an LCD TV that brings a 1080p resolution to the 22-inch table. But, since this high resolution also makes the 22LU5000 about £50 dearer than its £300 sibling, we can't help but wonder if it's really necessary on such a small screen.
Not for the butch
If you like your TVs to look manly, you might as well stop reading this review now. The 22LU5000's flamboyant design is about as far from masculine as you can get.
For a start, its bezel is glossy white. Then there are the subtle curves to the TV's extremities, and the way the bottom edge arcs down in the middle. If this hasn't already upset you enough, how about the eye-catching orange in which the TV's rear and edges are clad, and the glass-like neck that connects the TV to the predictably cute desktop stand?
Any TV design that's as in your face as the 22LU5000's is going to polarise opinion. But many of us at CNET Towers have a soft spot for it, even if we don't like to admit it.
Once you get over the colour of the 22LU5000's rear, you'll notice it's reasonably well provisioned with connections for such a small TV. There are two HDMI ports, for instance, as well as a VGA PC port so the TV can do double duty as a computer monitor. The only disappointment is that the on-board USB port can only handle firmware-update data, and not JPEG photos or MP3 audio.
The rest of the 22LU5000's specs are dominated by its 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution. Fitting so many pixels into a 22-inch screen really is quite a feat. But does it really serve any useful purpose other than to give the TV an easy selling point for in-store staff to latch onto?
After all, you can't always appreciate the difference between 720p and 1080p resolutions at the 32-inch size level, so it's hard to imagine that a 1080p resolution will really make its presence felt on a 22-inch screen.
But the 22LU5000 doesn't only have a high resolution to boast about, though. It also carries a surprisingly long list of picture-tuning options, such as gamma adjustment, a dynamic colour enhancer, a black level enhancer, and systems for reducing video noise and sharpening edges.
Despite our concerns about the real-world usefulness of this set's resolution, there's no denying that the 22LU5000's pictures are better than those of the 22LU4000. For instance, images look generally brighter (that may be a result of the screen's extra pixel density), which is particularly handy if you're looking for a portable TV to go in a sunny conservatory.
Also, partly because of the extra brightness, the 22LU5000 delivers more vigorous colours than its cheaper sibling. And, because these colours coincide with an unusually deep and believable black response, the 22LU5000's images also look exceptionally dynamic compared to the rather muted, low-lit images common in the 22-inch world.
Turning to the key issue of sharpness, there's no doubt that the 22LU5000 has a keen eye for detail with high-definition sources. We can't say, though, that its pictures look markedly sharper than those of the 22LU4000. If the 1080p resolution really does make a difference, then, it seems to be more in the areas of brightness and colour response than clarity.
Some very minor backlight bleed at the picture's extremities, as well as some gentle motion blur, stop the 22LU5000's picture quality from being completely outstanding, but it's still far superior to that of the vast majority of its portable peers.
It's a crying shame, then, that the TV doesn't also improve on the 22LU4000's uninspiring audio. Instead, you get the same tinny, bass-free sound. It's just about satisfactory with daytime TV, but you'll be reaching for the ear plugs during Hollywood action scenes.
While the LG 22LU5000's extra resolution doesn't obviously boost the sharpness of its pictures compared to those of the cheaper 22LU4000, its images are still superior in other ways, making it just about worth its £50 premium. It won't be a good choice, though, if you're seeking a set capable of filling a large room with buttock-rumbling sound.
Edited by Charles Kloet