capsule review

LG Electronics 42PX4D

At a Glance
  • LG Electronics 42PX4D

LG Electronics 42PX4D
Photograph: Rick Rizner

If you're looking for an all-in-one entertainment system, consider the 42PX4D. This 42-inch TV offers bright images, a powerful sound system, and near-universal hookup options for sources and peripherals. Our judges ranked it number one overall in a side-by-side review of eight 42-inch plasmas.

It was a pleasant improvement over the last LG plasma we reviewed, the 50-inch DU-50PZ60. The 42PX4D scored third-best for overall visual performance in our tests (behind the Philips 42PF9966/37 and the NEC PX-42XR3A.)

The luminous screen gave this unit the top score in our overall assessment of brightness and contrast, as well as in our bright-light torture test. (In the latter test we used a combination of 5000-Kelvin and 6500-Kelvin sources intended to simulate daylight conditions--in such strong ambient light, screen images can appear washed out.) It also took third place overall with DVD movies and standard-definition TV programs. And unlike some of its competitors, the LG handled many different source formats with finesse in our informal tests, including 1080 interlaced, 720 progressive, and 480 progressive through its HDMI inputs, plus 480 progressive through its component input.

But images appeared a bit noisy, and the 42PX4D came in a depressing next-to-last for its ability to display detail; consequently, it ranked only fifth out of the eight tested models for HDTV quality. At least some of the problem seems to be in its display of dark tones. In a high-def TV documentary about the Napa Valley wine country, for example, we saw speckles in what should have been a solid-blue sky. To investigate further, we watched the opening scene of Mystic River: a fade up from black over a grim Boston skyline. Much of the DVD has less-than-perfect image quality, making the sequence trying for any TV, but it looked especially splotchy on the LG.

The integrated 15-watt speakers produced strong, relatively clear audio with music from the DVD Kill Bill Vol. 1. They nicely filled the room with the brassy twang of Al Hirt's jazz piece "Green Hornet" and handled, with minimal distortion, the rumbling bass in Tomoyasu Hotei's instrumental "Battle Without Honor or Humanity," even at high volume.

The on-screen menus are handsome and well arranged, and they offer a plethora of options, including seven image modes (such as Daylight, Night Time, and Movie) and six audio modes (such as News, Music, and Theater). Each of these lists includes one user-definable mode, customizable for each input source; for example, you can optimize settings for your DVD player and your television source. But even better would be at least two user-configurable video modes, which would allow calibration for both daytime and nighttime viewing. One big disappointment: LG does not provide access for a professional calibrator to make low-level adjustments in the TV's service menu. For instance, with the basic user controls we achieved a color temperature that hovered between 6725 and 7175 Kelvin (slightly bluish). A pro could probably get the TV even closer to the ideal value of 6500 K and also improve overall color accuracy. But without access to the TV's service menus, such refinements aren't possible.

Another problem is that the menus are enormous and block out much of the screen you are trying to adjust. They shrink once you home in on a particular control, such as brightness or sharpness. But instead of dropping the control's slider to the bottom of the screen, as some TVs do, the LG sticks it near the middle, obstructing your view.

In contrast, we have only praise for the connection options. The 42PX4D includes two HDMI inputs, allowing it to receive digital video and audio from two sources (such as a cable box and a DVD player). It also has two sets of component inputs, and it can receive either analog or digital input from a computer (the latter via a DVI-to-HDMI adapter cable, which LG doesn't include). This provides the option of using a Media Center PC with the set. Two FireWire ports allow you to attach a digital camcorder. Also included is a CableCard slot, which lets many cable TV subscribers forgo a bulky set-top box. The 42PX4D can send the audio from cable TV programs to a surround-sound home theater system via its optical audio port, as well. And finally, the TV can display digital pictures stored on any of nine memory card formats.

Another item worth noting is the unit's price: At $4000, the 42PX4D is a bargain compared with some of its 42-inch, high-definition competitors.

More than just a TV, the 42PX4D is a powerful, integrated entertainment system that excels in many respects, especially image brightness and sound quality. But its difficulty in providing crisp detail--especially in dark tones--is a notable weakness.

Seán Captain

This story, "LG Electronics 42PX4D" was originally published by PCWorld.

To comment on this article and other TechHive content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
At a Glance
  • LG Electronics 42PX4D

Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.