With one of LG's intriguing, LED-backlit, flagship SL9000 TVs only a few days from arriving in our labs, we thought we'd pass the time with a model in the next range down, the 42SL8000. We were hardly prepared for just how enjoyable a time we'd have with this £1,000, 42-inch, 1080p LCD TV.
Although the 42SL8000 might not be quite as thin as the upcoming SL9000 models, at just 50mm deep, it's still strikingly slim compared to most LCD sets. The thin profile is complemented by a glorious high-gloss finish on the bezel, with a saucy but subtle injection of blue in the extreme bottom edge. Hubba.
Fearsome feature set
The 42SL8000's divine looks aren't the only source of joy, though. This TV also has an awesome array of features. In terms of connectivity, for example, it boasts an innovative wireless Bluetooth system for use with headphones or for playing MP3s and JPEGs from mobile phones. Among numerous other connections, there are also four HDMI ports and a USB socket that, impressively, is capable of playing high-definition DivX video, WMV, MP3 and JPEG files.
The TV also claims to have 200Hz processing. As with many other 200Hz systems, the 42SL8000 doesn't actually refresh the picture 200 times a second. Rather, it combines a 100Hz refresh rate with a scanning backlight. This slightly compromised approach has its foibles, as we'll see presently.
LG seems to have done some interesting things with the 42SL8000's contrast too, since the 1080p screen boasts a startlingly high claimed contrast ratio of 150,000:1. Such contrast-ratio figures have to be taken with a huge pinch of salt, though.
Picture-processing chops beyond the 200Hz system come courtesy of LG's solid, multi-purpose XD Engine system, and a Real Cinema processor developed to get the most from 1080p/24p Blu-ray playback.
It's worth pointing out that most of the features we've discussed are adjustable from the 42SL8000's excellent on-screen menus, which cope with the TV's huge feature count superbly, thanks to their combination of big, bold graphics and a logical structure.
These pretty menus contain one final feature worth mentioning before getting stuck into the 42SL8000's picture performance: the ISF presets. These are there so that you can pay an engineer from the Imaging Science Foundation to professionally calibrate your screen to suit your specific viewing-room conditions.
Outstanding image quality
Thus far the 42SL8000 hasn't really put a foot wrong, offering a design and features that make its £1,000 price point seem cheap. For us, its appeal merely increased as we sat and watch it in action.
Right away, it's impossible not to be struck by the outstanding dynamism of the 42SL8000's pictures. Bright whites share the frame happily with easily the deepest, most natural blacks we've seen on an LG LCD TV so far. It's a pity that the set's black levels reduce quite severely if you watch the screen from a wide angle. But the same can be said of 95 per cent of other LCD TVs, too.