Through its shrewd tie-ins with Sky and its adoption of user-friendly passive technology, LG has enjoyed huge success in the 3D TV market so far this year. And going forward its enthusiasm for all things three-dimensional isn't showing any signs of slowing, with 3D-ready sets making up over 60 per cent of its massive 2012 TV range. One of these is the 42LM660T, a 42in LED set packed with smart features galore, a Freeview HD tuner and a gorgeous svelte design.
Design and connections
Fresh out the flight case, the 42LM660T oozes class. Its super-slim depth of 33mm is great news for anyone hoping to mount it on the wall, but if not, the open-backed tabletop stand is a stylish feature that makes the screen look like it's suspended above it.
Thanks to LG's Cinema Screen design, the bezel is extremely slim and allows the screen to extend almost to the very edge of the set, maximising the picture size. Around the outer edge is a classy brushed silver trim, which offers a subtle hint of glamour without going overboard.
Its slim dimensions haven't stopped LG cramming as many sockets on the rear panel as possible. There are four HDMI inputs, one of which supports Audio Return Channel and sends signals to a connected sound system without the need for an additional digital cable - although there is a separate optical digital output if needed.
These are joined by three USB ports, which support media playback from external HDDs, flash memory drives, hubs and other devices, as well as opening up PVR functionality with an hard drive connected.
RGB Scart and component/composite inputs are also provided (you'll need the supplied cables) plus a PC input, CI slot, headphone output, RF input and an Ethernet port.
Where do we begin? If LG crammed any more tech into this set there's a chance it would get up and walk out the room. It's the Stephen Fry of Smart TVs, crammed with a wealth of Internet-enabled features - web content, DLNA media streaming and the ability to talk to mobile devices. Built-in Wi-Fi makes it simple to access these features.
LG Smart TV brings together a wide range of online content, and what a selection it is - there's BBC iPlayer, YouTube, ITN News, Acetrax, Box Office 365, Cartoon Network, Picasa, Stuff, Facebook, Twitter and many more, with others to follow. These are grouped into the Premium section (referring to the quality of the apps rather than the need to pay for them), while the separate LG Smart World offers up less appealing apps like OK Magazine, plus games, puzzles and learning tools. Many of these aren't worth the time it takes to download them, but with so much here you're bound to find one or two gems.
You can also browse the Internet at large, a process rendered easy by the inclusion of a LG's Magic Remote, which works just like a PC mouse (more on this later).
A couple of optional accessories unlock more fancy features - with the AN-VC400 camera you can make Skype video calls, while the Dual Play glasses allow two people to view different pictures at the same time without splitting the screen.
Smart Share is LG's slick DLNA streaming feature, which supports most file formats, including hi-def MKV, AVI, AVCHD, DivX, XviD, WMV, MP3, WMA, AAC and WAV (which are also supported via USB). We tried to trip it up with exotic formats and the only things it refused to play were an old WMV clip and FLAC, but that's not a huge loss on a TV. It loads Windows Media Player playlists.
The 42LM660T is a 3D set of course, and comes with five pairs of passive glasses, underlining the terrific value for money that passive technology provides. There's built-in 2D-to-3D conversion too, expanding the range of available 3D content to include Freeview and 2D movies (albeit in a compromised form).
You can also tweak the 3D images using a dedicated set of controls in the setup menu - depth, viewpoint, image correction (which switches the left and right images to reduce dizziness) and 3D Sound Zooming, which aims to make sound effects match the depth of the image.
Onscreen presentation is stunning across the board. The Home Dashboard is your first port of call for any function, and it's absolutely fantastic. The screen is split into three blocks - live TV, Smart TV and Smart Share, with a row of quick-access icons running along the bottom (which can be called up at any time by pressing the My Apps button). The graphics are cute, crisp and colourful, with smooth animations.
Smart Share and Smart TV are designed with equal attention to detail - bright and engaging yet logical in their layout, with pleasant background graphics. Even the most basic menus like input selection are displayed with the utmost flair.
Easy to use it may be, but at times it does feel like you're being bombarded by menus and options, which makes the GUI seem a bit daunting at first, despite its friendly appearance. It could do with being streamlined just a touch.
And there's also room for improvement in the Freeview EPG, which lacks a live TV box and the options are a little vague. To its credit though, the eight-channel programme grid is easy to read and everything operates smoothly.
Key to the LG's slick operation is the inclusion of two remotes. One is the standard zapper that LG has been using for a while now, which is actually very simple to use, and the other is the Magic Remote. This sleek, ergonomic handset controls an onscreen mouse, which moves with a wave of the remote and makes it much simpler to select options and enter text. There's also a jog wheel that lets you scroll down pages and acts as the enter button, as well as other physical buttons including 3D, Home, Back, Volume and Programme. It takes some getting used to, but once mastered you won't want to go back.
There's a detailed range of picture adjustments in the setup menu, which should keep discerning cinephiles happy, but the advanced stuff is all tucked away in submenus so you can keep adjustments as simple as you like.
Once optimised, the 42LM660T is capable of some spellbinding 2D Blu-ray and Freeview HD pictures. The first thing we noticed is how dense and solid the image looks, brought about by the wonderfully deep blacks. They lend a cinematic quality to the picture that some LED sets struggle to achieve, without compromising on the brightness for which LED sets are famed.
But these aren't 'one-note' blacks - there's real nuance and detail within dark scenes, with the set proving to be hugely talented when it comes to rendering varying black levels in different parts of the picture. That's thanks in part to LED Plus, LG's local backlight dimming tech.
This is backed up by captivating colour reproduction. It musters brilliantly bold hues and subtle shades within the same frame, and never allows tonal blends to look clunky. It's the sort of picture that grabs you and won't let go.
Hi-def images also look remarkably sharp, with every pixel punching through the screen unhindered by artefacts. That makes fine movie details and textures seem lucid and 'real'.
Inevitably, the use of passive 3D technology means you lose the sense of wonder when watching 3D discs, but the results are still remarkably enjoyable. With this system, only half the lines go to each eye, as opposed to the full HD frames you get from the active system, so the image seems a touch fuzzy. If you look closely enough you can also make out the line structure of the image.
This lack of absolute clarity may bother purists but for regular 3D viewing with the family, it's terrific. The picture is as comfortable to watch as the glasses are to wear (they're 20 per cent lighter than previous pairs) while the sense of depth and distance within the image remains superb, and there's no flicker, blurring or crosstalk to contend with, which makes for a very enjoyable 3D experience - arguably better than the active system, picture sharpness aside.
Standard definition pictures are the set's Achilles' heel, particularly from the Freeview tuner. There's a slightly smudgy feel to the image, with hints of block and mosquito noise swirling around the edges of objects, particularly during programmes with lots of movement.
Taming the inherent noise in the Freeview signal is always a challenge for flatpanel sets, but the 42LM660T struggles more than some of its rivals. It's not unwatchable by any means, but if you've become accustomed to crisp hi-def pictures it's quite a come-down.
When it comes to the audio quality of this slim LED set, LG makes more of an effort than most. Don't expect thunderous bass or room-filling dynamics, yet the sound is clear, lively and engaging, without sounding excessively bright or fatiguing at loud volumes.
There are plenty of sound modes to play around with too, including presets, user EQ, virtual surround and Clear Voice to enhance dialogue.
If the 42LM660T is anything to go by, it's no surprise that LG has been enjoying such amazing success in the LED TV market of late. It's a very impressive TV on many counts, from its dazzling high-definition pictures to the lengthy feature list.
We love the smart functionality, which is stunningly presented and operates with pleasing slickness. LG's selection of online content is hugely generous plus DLNA streaming is hassle-free and plays anything you throw at it.
What's more, its gorgeous design, slim dimensions, plentiful connections, five pairs of glasses and the brilliant Magic Remote make it all the more irresistible.
There's room for improvement in the EPG and perhaps the GUI could be simplified a little, plus these passive 3D pictures lack the absolute full HD clarity of active 3D sets, yet even none of these things should deter you from snapping up this superb TV.
Screen size (inches)
1920 x 1080
Triple XD Engine
3D glasses supplied
Yes (Wi-Fi Direct)
2 x 10W
Energy efficiency class
Dimensions (with stand, W x H x D)
953 x 634 x 263mm
Dimensions (without stand, W x H x D)
953 x 566 x 33mm
Digital audio output
SD card slot