LG's 52-inch 2LG5000 LCD TV is big, reasonably clever and unusually cheap. For while the jump from 46- and 47-inch LCD TVs to the 50-inch-plus level generally causes all sorts of pricing issues for many LCD brands, the 52LG5000 is going in various internet places for under £1,350. Let's just hope LG hasn't had to shave too many corners to make such a price feasible.
The 52LG5000 may be cheap, but it certainly doesn't look it. In fact, its bodywork actually looks quite opulent with its glossy finish and overtly minimalist stance. An 'invisible' speaker system means the TV's bodywork doesn't even have to trouble itself with such tedious practicalities as incorporating speakers.
There's no sign of any of the flashes of red that distinguish many other designs in LG's current TV range, but those of you with subtle tastes might not consider that a bad thing.
Happily for us the 52LG5000's aggressive pricing hasn't dented the set's connectivity. It still manages, among other things, three v1.3 HDMIs, a digital audio output, a PC port and even an RS-232C port to help integrate the TV into a wider AV system.
Screen resolution is inevitably a 'full HD' 1920x1080 pixels, and this is joined on the impressive specification front by a very high contrast ratio of 50,000:1, achieved by dimming the backlight output during dark scenes.
With LG's XD Engine processing on hand to help pictures out, there are elements of the 52LG5000's performance that are really quite good. Colours, for instance, are spectacularly vivid and richly saturated.
Given that the TV doesn't have 100Hz processing, we were also relieved to note how little motion blur we saw while watching a couple of HD Premiership footie matches -- at least with all the TV's OTT noise reduction routines deactivated.
One further area of strength is audio. Unlike a number of rival 'invisible' speaker systems currently doing the rounds, the 52LG5000's actually delivers decent levels of power, clarity and dynamic range. So much so that even the opening 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan posed no problems for it -- especially if you use the Clear Voice option that helps keep vocals prominent in the mix.
Although the 52LG5000 is decently attractive, it's also rather big by current standards, potentially causing problems for people with limited space.
We also missed not having any USB or SD card slots, though we guess this is probably a fair cost-saving measure on such an affordable screen.
Rather more disappointing are some elements of the 52LG5000's performance. First and worst, its black levels aren't particularly great -- and certainly don't back up that 50,000:1 contrast ratio claim. What's more, this issue is exacerbated if you find yourself having to sit to the TV's side, as the image loses contrast and colour saturation pretty rapidly as soon as you're not looking at the screen head on.
Another problem is that sometimes the vibrancy of the colours has seemingly been achieved at the expense of naturalism, with a few orangey reds and salmony, waxy skin tones creeping in. Especially if you use the Vivid factory image preset mode and set the TV's Fresh Colour menu option higher than 'low'.
The 52LG5000 also struggles to look quite as sharp and crisp with HD sources as the best big-screen rivals do. It isn't particularly great at upscaling standard definition sources either, leaving them looking rather noisy and unnatural at times.
If money is no object, the 52LG5000's various performance issues provide plenty of reasons for looking elsewhere for your big-screen thrills. However, even at their worst, this very affordable LG's pictures are never terrible. And with HD they're even capable of looking quite good at times, meaning that there is at least a modicum of appeal here for the budget buyer.
Edited by Marian Smith