Setting it up was simple: I just followed the foolproof onscreen instructions and plugged the cable from the wall and the antenna into the TV. It takes 24 hours for the EPG to acquire the eight days' worth of listings. Unfortunately, the system didn't work quite as advertised. When I returned the next day, I saw listings for a few cable and over-the-air channels, but they were highly disorganized (channel numbers didn't match Time Warner's assignments and many channels were repeated), and the EPG detected only a few of the hundreds of channels available. You can customize the listings - by changing channel mapping or adding and deleting channels manually - but there's no way to get listings for missing channels.
A representative from TV Guide On Screen talked me through some fixes, but I was never able to get information for every channel, and sometimes all the listings would disappear, forcing me to wait another 24 hours. Your mileage may vary, depending on your local cable service, and TV Guide's rep promised an automatic update to fix the disappearing-listings problem.
My other setup experiences were more satisfying. I needed to use a converter cable to digitally connect my HDTV signal generator and the DVI (Digital Visual Interface) output on my Bravo D1 DVD player to the TV's HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) input. I found plenty of inputs for my other gear, and the side-panel A/V input was a convenient perk.
I liked the large, fully backlit remote. It's easy to use thanks to the generous spacing between buttons. The set's menus offer plenty of picture-adjustment options, including a series of picture presets. Happily, each input can also remember its own custom settings for contrast, brightness, etc.
I'm a big fan of the LG's numerous display modes (aspect ratio settings): there are six for standard-def sources and five for HDTV, plus a 16-position Cinema Zoom that let me expand the entire picture in tiny increments. The only mode not available for high-def sources is a nonlinear stretch that expands the sides more than the middle. Three so-called ISM (Image Sticking Minimization) settings are designed to prevent ghost images from burning into the screen. Burn-in shouldn't be a problem, however, if you avoid leaving static images on the screen for long periods.
PICTURE QUALITY After calibrating the LG using test patterns (see "in the lab" on next page), I sat back to see how well it performed with DVD movies through its progressive-scan component-video input. Although Van Helsing was a critical flop, it's certainly a more entertaining DVD than the Avia Guide to Home Theater that I used for setup. This dark, monster-chasing adventure opens with a black-and-white sequence that turns into color in Chapter 2, and throughout the beginning of the flick I noticed two things: 1) I wanted to get as close as possible to the big screen so I could feel more immersed in the action, and 2) the closer I got, the more I noticed noise in the picture.
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