I started my evaluation by cruising the high-def channels on my digital cable box. NBC HD's coverage of the U.S. Open golf tournament looked very good, with the 47LH55 nicely delineating the different textures and shadings of the fairways, greens, and rough of Long Island's Bethpage Black course. I could see details in the raked sand of the traps, and fine blades of strawgrass lining the bunkers were also easily revealed.
Watching the U.S. Open and several other programs, I found the LG's color reproduction to be strikingly natural and satisfying. For example, on an episode of Wa$ted, a reality show on the Planet Green HD network, the faux-fur cap worn by the show's host looked truly white, with no obvious tinting toward red or blue. And vivid colors - the winter-blue sky behind the family's home, the green of their shrubs, the orange of a teenage son's jacket - also looked balanced as opposed to pumped-up or hyped. Meanwhile, a profile of the original Speak & Spell on History HD's Modern Marvels showed the colors of the iconic red and yellow plastic toy to be perfectly rendered. I was struck in this and in all my viewing by the solid, noise-free nature of the LG's image - a quality I usually tend to associate more with plasma than LCD.
On the other hand, I consistently found myself wishing for deeper blacks when watching both high-def TV programs and movies - something that I couldn't adjust for using the set's picture controls without compromising shadow details. This became especially apparent when I watched a Blu-ray Disc of My Best Friend's Girl, a funny - and profoundly raunchy - romantic comedy about a guy named Tank (Dane Cook) who treats women so badly that other dudes hire him to date lost girlfriends so they can be reminded how lucky they once were.
In an opening flashback sequence that depicts one of these horror dates (it takes place at Pancho McDougal's, a Mexican/Celtic restaurant with food that carries a Zagat rating of 7), I could see nice details in the folds of Tank's black shirt, as well as in the interior of his muscle car as he drove to the restaurant. But in a dimly lit scene later on where Tank tries to talk his way into his date's bedroom, deep background shadows looked relatively light. I'd rate this set's shadow depth as good, but not as good as the best plasmas or the new LED-backlit LCD models.
Standard-def fare, such as cable news broadcasts and a DVD of the movie 21, showed that the LG could do a good job upscaling lower-rez content for display on its high-def screen. The picture had the characteristic softness of standard-def, but it was relatively free of random video noise. Unfortunately, the set's onboard noise reduction settings did little to reduce digital-compression artifacts like blocking and mosquito noise, even at the highest presets. But the LG's noise reduction did no harm either - I didn't detect any softening of the picture when the feature was activated.
Today's very best (and most expensive) flat-panel TVs have the 47LH55 beat on ultimate black levels, and there's also a fair amount of competition these days for 47-inch LCD and plasma models in its price range. And while the LG's 240-Hz effect successfully reduces motion blur, it can also impart a "video look" to film-based programs. But excellent out-of-box color accuracy, solid-looking picture, and wide range of adjustments still make it a strong contender - one that's well worth a look.
Overall Score: 7.3
• 1080p resolution
• Four HDMI inputs
• 1080p/24 compatibility
• 240-Hz TruMotion mode
• 10-point grayscale calibration adjustment
• Inputs: 4 HDMI, 2 component-video, 2 composite-video; RF antenna, RBG PC (plus PC audio in), USB, and RS-232 control
• 46 x 31 x 13[1/4] in (with stand); 51[1/2] lb
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