LG has undoubtedly produced some of the best-looking TVs I've seen this year, thanks to the new frameless Cinema Screen design. The 42-inch 42LM670T continues this trend. There's more to this set than just looks though. It's got brains too, including impressive smart TV features.
LED edge dimming helps it deliver deeper black levels and it sports passive 3D, which means cheaper specs than active 3D sets. Currently the TV can be bought from around £1,050 online.
User interface and EPG
The 42LM670T uses LG's re-jigged interface. This is even more attractively presented than the menus on last year's models, with slicker graphics and smoother 3D-style transitions and animations. The core of the user interface is the new home screen. This has four large panels at the top covering the premium apps menu, LG's 3D online video zone, the Smart World app store and videos shared to the TV from a PC across a network.
Beneath this is a row of icons that act as shortcuts to stuff like the input selection screen, various video-on-demand apps, the TV's manual and the electronic programme guide (EPG).
The user interface tends to chuck a lot of stuff at you initially, so it can be overwhelming for the first-time user. The navigation isn't always as intuitive as it should be either, especially as there are often multiple ways of accessing the same things. Once you've used it or a while though, its slightly quirky layout does start to make more sense.
LG has also tweaked the EPG. The new layout looks cleaner and more welcoming than that used on previous TVs, but it's still disappointing that it lacks a video thumbnail window.
The set actually comes with two remote controls. One is a fairly straightforward zapper, while the second is what LG calls a Magic Remote. It's a motion-sensing device, similar to the Nintendo Wii controller. When you pick it up, a cursor appears on the screen that you control by moving the remote around in the air.
It initially feels quite odd as it's like using a computer mouse with a TV, but it does speed up many tasks. Instead of having to click your way through lists in menus, you can just point and select. It also helps to speed up text entry for usernames and passwords when you're setting up the various smart TV apps.
Digital media and Internet features
LG has clearly put a lot of effort into the smart features on its latest models and it very much pays off. Apps are now split up. Premium apps get their own menus, while less mainstream options are accessed via the Smart World apps store. The Premium selection is excellent and includes the likes of BBC iPlayer, Facebook, Twitter, Acetrax (now owned by Sky), Blinkbox and iConcerts. LG has also now added Lovefilm, while Netflix is due to arrive soon.
The apps you'll find in the Smart World store include games, as well as news and information services. There are some decent ones in there, but you're likely to leave a lot of them untouched. Overall though, LG's smart TV platform is one of the best out there at the moment.
The set also includes personal video recorder (PVR) features, so if you plug a hard drive or memory key into one of its three USB ports, you can pause live TV or record shows directly to disc. There's only one tuner so you can't record a show while watching another. It's no replacement for a proper PVR.
Naturally, this model can also play back digital media files, either locally via USB or remotely over a network from a PC or NAS drive. Format support is very good across both and it'll happily play HD MKV files as well as DivX and Xvid videos.
Unlike last year's LG TVs, which forced you to use the Plex media server software on your PC, this model works with both Plex servers and normal DLNA servers, so you can stream content from a NAS drive without needing to have your PC turned on.
Design and connections
It wouldn't be an exaggeration to describe this TV's design as jaw dropping. It's one of the best-looking TVs that you're likely to set eyes on this year. Key to this is LG's new Cinema Screen design. With the TV off it looks as if the screen has no bezel -- it's just framed at the edge by a narrow strip of aluminium.
When you turn the set on you can see that there's actually a very narrow 1cm gap between the edge of the actual screen and the start of this aluminium trim, but it's still a stunning design. Even the stand is gorgeous as the two-pronged design makes the TV look as if it's floating on air when viewed from a certain angle.
The TV is very slim too, with its panel measuring just 33mm deep. Despite this, it still has a pretty comprehensive line-up of ports. Down the left-hand side are four HDMI V1.4 slots, including one that supports Audio Return Channel. This can be used to feed the audio from all devices connected to the TV to an external amp over a single cable. This side panel is also home to the three USB sockets.
On the rear is an RF aerial input, along with the optical digital audio output port and mini jack inputs for the Scart and component video sockets. There's an Ethernet port here too, but the set has Wi-Fi built in, so you don't have to rely on a cabled connection to hook it up to your home network.
Sound quality is often an afterthought for manufacturers of slim TVs, and LG could certainly have been accused of this in the past. However, the 42LM670T's sonics are actually very good by flatscreen TV standards. In part, this seems to be due to extra depth at the bottom of the chassis for cramming in slightly larger speakers. The strategy has worked because this model has better bass grunt than the majority of its rivals. This helps it deliver a more rounded audio performance.
There are a few useful sound modes in the menu, including the Clear Voice II setting, which pushes dialogue up in the mix to help it stand out from a movie's soundtrack. It works well and is especially useful when you're watching the TV with the sound turned down low.
2D picture quality
Picture quality is, on the whole, very good. You have to play with the picture controls to get the best out of it though, especially when it comes to black levels. The set can actually produce deep blacks, but as with the LG 42LM660T, you've got to turn down the backlight a touch to get the best performance. This does compromise the graduations in darker areas of the image slightly -- something that can be seen in the opening scenes of Thor -- but not to a really aggressive extent.
Thankfully, the TV doesn't suffer anywhere near as much from the backlight patchiness that we saw on last year's LG models. The edge dimming LED technology seems to do a good job of minimising the pooling around the corners of the screen that's common on darker scenes on LED sets. It's still there to some degree, but it's not as prominent as before.
The TV is a sterling performer with colour, producing very vivid and warm hues that make movies on Blu-ray look deliciously rich. Detail and sharpness levels for HD feeds are also top-notch, giving real zing to 1080p resolution images. Some motion blur does creep in here and there, but it's really no worse nor better in this area than other similarly priced LED sets. That said, you will get better motion performance from any of the plasmas in Panasonic, LG or Samsung's ranges, as plasma technology is inherently better in this regard.
Upscaling of standard-definition content isn't bad, but you do have to be careful with the picture controls to avoid noise rearing its head.
3D picture quality
As with all of LG's LED TVs, this one uses the company's passive 3D technology. It's perhaps a vote of confidence in LG's passive tech that other manufacturers such as Panasonic and Toshiba have started using its panels in some of their 3D sets -- although mainly on lower-end models.
I can't help thinking that for the average person in the street, passive is actually the better 3D option. For most people 3D is an occasional indulgence, so buying lots of expensive active 3D glasses isn't cost effective. As a result, the cheap-as-chips passive 3D specs will hold greater appeal. They are much more comfortable to wear and don't suffer from flicker. LG includes seven pairs in the box, which will be more than enough for most families.
Watching Alice in Wonderland on Blu-ray, 3D images really do have a lot of depth. The lack of flicker and almost complete absence of crosstalk -- or image ghosting -- makes its 3D pictures seem more solid and real. Also, it's very bright compared to the majority of active 3D displays -- something that helps add punch.
Of course, there are the usual downsides. Passive 3D images have a lower resolution than active 3D images, as only every second line is fed to each eye. Sit close to the screen and you can actually see the line structure. Having said that, from a normal viewing distance it's not distracting, even though you will see some jags on curved or diagonal lines.
The set also comes with two pairs of dual-play glasses. These can be used with split-screen games to deliver full-screen images to each player, which is very neat.
The 42LM670T is an extremely likeable TV. Looks-wise it's an absolute beauty, thanks to its stunning no-frame design. It also has great Internet and multimedia features, impressive all-round picture quality and strong passive 3D performance. It's not as good at teasing out detail in darker scenes as some of its rivals, and its standard-definition upscaling could be a little better, but on the whole, this is a very accomplished TV from LG.