In a pantheon of TVs as vast as LG’s, it can be tricky to pinpoint exactly where the sweet spot is. But by balancing smart TV with awesome networking – albeit wired – myriad ins and outs, and a thoroughly decent picture, the 42-inch LG 42LS570T could be just that.
Full HD resolution features on this Edge LED-backlit LCD panel, while the LG 42LS570T also counts a Freeview HD tuner, an element of home networking, digital file playback from three USB slots and a generous helping of four HDMI inputs.
In terms of picture quality there’s 200Hz double-scan motion processing, which at this price-point of £499.99 (around AU$775/US$815) is another boon.
Two features fast becoming defaults on modern TVs are, however, slashed; 3D doesn’t make an appearance on this 42-inch television, and nor does Wi-Fi, although a dongle is available from LG.
However, smart TV’s holy trinity of BBC iPlayer, YouTube and an open web browser makes the LG 42LS570T a real stand-out at its price.
Looks-wise the LG 42LS570T is nothing special, combining a simple 15mm-wide gloss black bezel with a slightly larger undercarriage. The latter is fitted with speakers and a 11mm-wide grey plastic strip that’s designed to look like brushed metal.
It’s not, but the overall look of the impressive 35.5mm slim LG 42LS570T is at worst inoffensive.
The same may not apply to the desktop stand, which is a little heavy duty, though its central gap proves a great place to store idle TV remotes, or gaming accessories such as a Kinect.
Part of LG’s LS570 Series, the 42-inch LG 42LS570T is joined by the 32-inch LG 32LS570T and the 37-inch LG 37LS570T, the latter an increasingly rare screen size that’s not likely to last for another year (expect 39-inch screens to replace them due to recent advances in glass-cutting tech).
In comparison to sets lower down LG’s ranges, such as the LG LS5600, LG LS3590 or LG LS3500 Series, these LS570 TVs are the lowest priced sets with Freeview HD tuners included.
If you really can’t do without a Wi-Fi module, a variant is available; the 42-inch LG 42LS575T is exclusive to Currys.
The step-down LG LS5600 Series, which encompasses the 32-inch LG 32LS5600, 37-inch LG 37LS5600, 42-inch LG 42LS5600 and 47-inch LG 47LS5600, drops to basic Freeview and also manages just two HDMI inputs as well as a mere 100Hz refresh rate.
Cue possible problems with motion blur and resolution loss, though these four Edge LED-backlit LCD TVs retain a Full HD resolution.
Low-cost, non-3D plasmas come in HD-ready (the PA4500 Series) and Full HD (PA650T Series), the latter with Freeview HD tuners.
Those looking to go 3D ought to try LG’s impressive Cinema 3D sets, the excellent 55-inch LG 55LM660T, good value 47-inch LG 47LM760T and step-up 47-inch LG 47LM860V. And its Active Shutter 3D plasmas – including the LG 50PM670T – are great value big screen options.
The beauty of LG’s smart TV platform is that it isn’t a separate collection of apps, but encompasses the entire TV. The dashboard is split into three, with a live TV thumbnail next to a grid of Premium apps and apps from LG’s SmartWorld online store.
Premium apps are about average in terms of content, comprising Lovefilm, BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Acetrax, Blinkbox, BBC Sport, YouTube and the Rovi-powered KNOWHOW Movies. That’s quite some choice if you want to stream a movie.
Behind these top-line links are apps for Twitter, Skype and Facebook, as well as lesser-needed apps such as Dailymotion, vTuner, Viewster and Museums PureStreams HD (updates on the latest exhibitions).
LG is promising new apps for 2013, including EuroSport Player, Napster and Deezer.
Meanwhile, the front dashboard also hosts an LG Smart World panel, which showcases some other downloadable clutter by including invites to download the likes of Absolute Radio, Yupp TV and the amusing Wee Wee Kitty game (wee on flowers, kill them, win).
SmartShare, a panel just off-screen of the home dashboard that can easily be scrolled to, enables you to view digital content on a networked PC or USB flash drive (or phone) by content (video, music, photo or recorded TV).
It adds a Recently Watched grid of nine live video icons, a similarly comprehensive Newly Added panel, as well as the choice to enter each device – say, a specific USB stick – from a Linked Device window. It’s nothing short of brilliant.
In terms of picture tech, the LG 42LS570T isn’t the most advanced around – we wouldn’t expect that for £499.99 (around AU$775/US$815) – but it offers more than most of its price rivals.
With Full HD and using Edge LED backlighting, its Triple XD Engine suite of circuitry comprises a resolution upscaler on two strengths, and a 200Hz backlight scanning mode.
As well as dedicated Game and Cinema modes, the LG 42LS570T hints at its ambitious spec with two presets – ISF (Imaging Science Foundation) Expert1 and ISF Expert2.
There’s also an Intelligent Sensor setting that measures the ambient light levels and adjusts the contrast levels and intensity of the LCD backlighting, though such modes rarely impress us.
Of more interest is TruMotion, which ought to give a leg-up to Blu-rays in any LCD-based TV’s battle against blur and judder.
The LG 42LS570T’s Freeview HD tuner is nicely presented, with two hours’ of TV scheduling provided for seven channels on one page, and it includes the chance to make recordings to a hard disk, too.
Ins and outs are another of the LG 42LS570T’s strong hands.
The rear connections panel’s video inputs comprise a wired Ethernet LAN port, a 15-pin D-sub PC input, RF aerial input (to power Freeview HD), and a set of component, composite and RGB Scart video inputs (via adaptors, which also include two phonos).
Audio gubbins number a single jack for PC audio, a headphones slot and a digital optical audio output.
A jack pack on the side of the TV adds four HDMI inputs (handy in terms of number, though sturdy or fabric-covered quality HDMI cables will jut out the side quite considerably), three easily accessible USB inputs (rare at this price), and a Common Interface slot.
If you’re looking for a smart screen that delivers cracking hi-definition television for a low price, the LG 42LS570T should be in your sights. Granted, it’s not the most versatile performer, but instead it’s the definition of good value.
Let’s start with the dodgy stuff; Freeview HD, or rather, the standard-definition channels.
The Resolution Upscaler included here is not a patch on the Super Resolution found on sets higher up the LG pantheon, and we found that it made little difference.
An old episode of QI on Dave appears mottled with noise and low bit rate squelches around the heads of the panelists, though there’s no jagged edges.
Switch to an HD channel and those problems disappear, to reveal a dynamic image with punchy colours and plenty of contrast.
For watching our Blu-ray of The Avengers,the ISF Expert2 setting proved the closest preset to our tastes (though Cinema is pretty similar), and if you tone down the backlight and push the contrast up a notch it creates a very respectable picture.
The LG 42LS570T uses its Full HD resolution to great effect, with excellent detailing in still images both bright and murky, while colour is impressively subtle, with skin tones containing plenty of depth.
In one bright scene, the black leather coat of Nick Fury is reasonably detailed within, but when the light dips, most of that good work is rubbed out.
The LG 42LS570T creates enough inky blacks to impress in most sequences, but night-time images lack contrast, with dark elements of the image merging to become a black hole.
The main issue with the LG 42LS570T’s panel is an age-old LCD problem with blur and judder, though it does address it rather well. Leave it alone and the panel in the LG 42LS570T’s panel loses resolution and appears to judder slightly each time the camera pans.
A still image of the Black Widow displays startling detail, with fine skin and even beads of sweat visible, but that strong performance is undone when she attacks her interrogators, causing a noticeable loss of resolution during the fight.
The cure is to engage TruMotion, a frame interpolation tech of the kind that almost never works. The LG 42LS570T bucks that trend, though with some side-effects; engaged on its Clear setting (at 70% power) it introduces a hyper-real, video-like look that’s as transfixing as it is effective at removing judder, especially, but also blur.
It’s evident at the Stuttgart Confrontation in The Avengers, when crowds rush through the building – it’s so smooth. However, just as visible is flicker around moving objects.
In another sequence, as the Black Widow peels away after a backwards head-butt, she leaves a bubbly trail of artefacts in her wake. Yuck.
Take TruMotion down to its Smooth (30%) setting and those problems are almost eradicated, but we’d advise taking it down a notch further, using the user-defined setting, to retain the judder-free picture without flicker.
It’s also worth noting that if you leave the LG 42LS570T on the standard or vivid setting, the viewing angle tends to be narrow. Engage Cinema or one of the ISF settings and it’s far easier to watch from the wings.
Lastly, there is one other slight picture oddity. While skipping around the GUI menu, the picture parameters drastically alter – and we’re not sure why.
It’s most noticeable when accessing a USB stick menu on SmartShare, when a carefully tuned picture temporarily swaps back to a brighter, more vivid picture setting, before returning to its former parameters when video starts playing.
At worst it’s distracting, though it’s likely to annoy media-savvy types regularly using the TV’s USB slots.
You won’t find a reference-quality approach to contrast on the LG 42LS570T, and nor is it the most versatile performer available. But it’s got enough in the way of contrast, colour and detail to please the average user.
And at this low, low price, that’s just fine by us.
Usability, sound and value
The EPG governing Freeview HD on the LG 42LS570T is excellent, with schedules over two hours for eight channels displayed at once. However, inspecting it completely blocks and silences the live TV channel you’re watching.
Instead it’s best to use the remote’s helpfully centrally placed Info button, which provides more information on individual TV programmes and enables you to change channel while never leaving live television.
The chance to rename each source on the Inputs app is nice, though custom text entry would be better than the generic labels used (such as Blu-ray, Games, Smart Box – though the latter uses an icon that looks uncannily like an Apple TV).
The remote is nicely laid out, with blue and slightly luminous channel and volume rockers, and easy access to the crucial Home, My Apps and Exit buttons.
It’s weighted nicely and has a concave ridge in the back to stop it slipping out of hands.
The virtual brushed metallic skeuomorphism styling of the Home dashboard that recalls Mac OS X won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but for film fans there’s few better GUIs than LG’s.
Stuffed with on-demand movie apps, there’s a handy search function in My Apps – an easily accessible tab at the bottom of the main screen – that finds any film.
In our test we found The Dark Knight Rises on Acetrax before we’d even finished typing the first word.
Speaking of which, the LG 42LS570T has an open web browser, too, though it’s hardly a highlight. Slow and ponderous, we managed to get a Yahoo! video embedded on a news website to play, but only after a wait of over two minutes.
As well as being almost addictively easy to use, the file support in SmartShare is comprehensive. Not utterly, but we managed to play MKV, MP4, MOV, AVI, MPEG, WMV and WMV HD files.
Photos are just JPEG, while music is supported in MP3, M4A and WMA formats. Stream from a PC and the support extends to AVC HD, too.
Audio isn’t one of the LG 42LS570T’s strong suits. We settled on the Cinema sound setting for the most rounded audio and the occasional depth effect.
Using this, the sound of distant gunfire in The Avengers appeared to come from below, and behind the TV. However, across all modes the bass is lacking.
When it was initially launched, this 42-inch television was at least £100 more expensive, so we hope the price cut for smart TVs is a permanent one.
It certainly helps the LG 42LS570T reach above most of its close competitors when it comes to media-savvy new functions, though that’s in no small part down to the inclusion of SmartShare.
One of our favorite features of any modern TV, its ability to seamlessly stream from disparate sources in such a neutral, easy manner is extremely rare, and one that the likes of Panasonic, Sony and Samsung don’t get anywhere near.
Granted, the picture quality on the LG 42LS570T isn’t of the very highest quality, but with SmartShare, a similarly easy to use Freeview HD tuner (and associated software) amid plentiful connectivity, this £499.99 (around AU$775/US$815)-priced TV is hard to beat on value – though it does lack Wi-Fi.
Adept with HD fare and well endowed with ins and outs, the LG 42LS570T’s lack of ultimate versatility might be a cause for concern for some.
For all-round family viewing, perhaps the smaller 32-inch LG 32LS570T will represent the sweet spot of this particular TV lineup, but those wanting to hook up multiple sources and USB flash drives/HDDs on a big screen TV will heartily disagree.
The movie streaming app-laden Smart TV and SmartShare are our favourite aspects of the LG 42LS570T, though its Blu-ray picture is strangely addictive, too.
That’s down to a surprisingly effective TruMotion setting, though just as useful are this low-priced TV’s Freeview HD tuner and all-round media-savvy user interface.
And the plentiful and conveniently placed USB and HDMI inputs are a big attraction, too.
Aside from movie streaming, a few more catch-up TV apps wouldn’t go amiss on Smart TV, while standard definition isn’t treated particularity well.
Sound is relatively poor, while contrast and black levels are such that little shadow detail is visible.
The placing of all four HDMI inputs on the side is also annoying, since the cables jut out from the side of the TV too easily, though of more concern is the TV’s lack of Wi-Fi.
As a screen for the living room of someone with loads of gadgets and a penchant for digital media, there is no better value choice than the LG 42LS570T.
Heaving with HDMI and USB slots, though lacking Wi-Fi, it’s nevertheless the 42-inch LG’s smart TV functionality that swings it.
On most TV brands – save for Toshiba, perhaps – the provision of anything that could be considered smart means paying at least £100 or more on top of the base price.
LG’s imaginatively named Smart TV platform is included for zilch extra amid a good value package of other TV must-haves – including an arresting hi-definition picture.
The budget 42-inch TV market is awash with options. Very similar to this TV is the Toshiba 40RL953, while slightly more spend gets you the Panasonic TX-L42E5B, which is mightily similar, too, save for a completely different – and less integrated – smart TV platform.
By Jamie Carter, TechRadar