Lots of thought has gone into LG’s chic “Scarlet” 42-inch HDTV, as evident in everything from the faux-leather remote control to the useful and brilliantly navigable OSD (on-screen display) menu. However, at US$2600 (as of July 11, 2008), such niceties don’t come cheap.
The entire back of the LCD panel is red, so if you look at the TV from an angle, you see some nice red accents. Personally, though, I see little point to the color, given that you rarely gaze at the back of your big-screen TV. The bezel is thin on the top and sides, but the bottom is about three times thicker; this is where LG hides the unit’s superior-sounding, down-firing speakers. As nice as it is not to see speaker grilles, I found the extra-large bottom bezel distractingly unattractive, especially considering that everything else about the display looks stunning.
A number of advanced features come standard. Individual six-color controls are easily found in the Expert Control level of the picture menu. And with a single click of the remote, you can find and adjust many accurately calibrated presets, from Sports mode to Movie mode.
LG also includes an Intelligent Sensor setting in this model. Most sensors just measure the brightness of ambient light in the room. LG’s version uses a complex set of algorithms to measure not just brightness but also contrast, color, sharpness, and white balance. The feature worked well most of the time, but on one occasion it briefly garbled some images while constantly trying to adjust the settings to match its changed surroundings.
The set performed well enough to earn a performance score of Good in our PC World Test Center lab tests. The Westinghouse TX-42F430S, however, received the same performance score and costs about US$1000 less than the top-shelf Scarlet. Still, LG’s high price tag nets you good image quality, great menu options, and extra ports such as USB (and you can use the USB port to play music or view photos from any USB drive.)
Should you be lucky enough to add an LG Scarlet to your living room, you won’t be disappointed.