S&V: I Love You, Scarlet

The Short Form
$2,600 ($3,199 list) / LGUSA.COM / 800-243-0000
Snapshot
A very good picture and sexy styling add up to a solid recommendation for LG's new LCD
Plus
• Accurate, natural color and lifelike highlights • Extensive picture adjustments and memory settings • Excellent standard-def processing • Cutting-edge styling
Minus
• Remote isn't backlit and has no dedicated button for screen modes • Occasional artifacts from TruMotion processing
Key Features
• 1,920 x 1,080p resolutionn • Four HDMI 1.3 Deep Color inputs • 1080p/24 compatibility • 120-Hz TruMotion processing • 10-point grayscale calibration • Inputs: 4 HDMI, 2 component-video, and 1 composite-video; RF antenna, VGA (plus PC audio in), USB, and RS-232 control • 45 1/2 x 34 1/4 x 17 in (with stand); 99 1/4 lb

As I checked out LG's 47LG60, a 47-inch 1080p-resolution LCD, I couldn't help but think of the old Zenith slogan (LG bought Zenith in the late '90s): "The quality goes in before the name goes on." There's plenty of innovation here, beginning with the styling. The sculpted-metal backside is painted in a high-gloss red (dubbed "Scarlet") that makes for a striking side view, while the swiveling stand is rimmed in the same red and topped with a chrome mirror finish. The front bezel is high-gloss black, and there's a clear plexiglass cutout below the screen with an etched LG logo, whose perimeter glows red and then white when you turn on the TV and is accompanied by a New Age ditty. Thankfully, the light and sound are defeatable, but it all makes an impressive statement.

The LG's input selection is reasonably generous. There are four HDMI 1.3 jacks (including one in the side-mounted convenience jackpack), though only one composite-video input. You also get a PC input and a USB port for a photo- or MP3-laden flash drive.

The slim remote lacks backlighting, but its mostly large and well-placed keys made it easy to find the important buttons in the dark. An AV Mode button lets you cycle through some of the picture modes on the fly, which is nice. But instead of having a dedicated button for changing screen modes, you have to use the Quick Menu button to bring up the appropriate menu. Screen modes include 16:9 (mild overscan), Just Scan (pixel-for-pixel), Zoom 1 and 2, and one that automatically selects a mode based on the program format.

SETUP

The LG offers a wealth of picture presets, including two Expert modes that can be tweaked with advanced controls. The latter include some elaborate options for setting white balance or grayscale - the key element of an ISF calibration. A technician can set individual levels of red, green, and blue for each of the 10 brightness (or "IRE") levels typically applied during calibration, allowing for dead-on results (see Test Bench). The set also has individual saturation and tint for the primary and secondary colors, and Black Level and Gamma controls to deepen the blacks and bring out shadow details, respectively. (I left Black Level in its default Low position, and typically left Gamma in its default Medium setting.) Unusually, the LG allows all seven of the picture modes to be customized for every input. So, for example, you can tweak both the Cinema and Sports modes for your cable box without having any impact on how these modes look with other devices, and then use the remote's AV Mode button to switch between them on the fly.

After calibration, I experimented with the other advanced menu functions, deciding to keep the Fresh Contrast and Fresh Color auto modes off, and setting Noise Reduction at low or medium depending on the source material. The LG's 120-Hz TruMotion processing was mostly left off or on its Low setting.

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