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LG 55LA740V review

A feature-rich but ultimately flawed mid-range TV

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Our Verdict

LG 55LA740V comes a bit of a cropper when asked to reproduce dark sequences, thanks to a below-par native contrast performance.

For

  • Super stylish design
  • Bright, colourful pictures
  • Relaxing 3D playback
  • Excellent smart TV interface

Against

  • Below par black levels
  • Problematic local dimming
  • Not enough catch-up TV
  • Lacks colour subtlety
Ratings in depth
LG 55LA740V review

LG 55LA740V review

LG 55LA740V review

LG 55LA740V review

LG 55LA740V review

After years of consistent, even quite spectacular progress in the TV world, topped off by the successes it's achieved with its passive 3D format, LG still finds itself under a world of pressure this year, thanks to the arrival of a frightening number of fearsomely good rivals.

Still, LG's 55LA740V certainly looks as if it's got the weapons to stake its claim on the TV world's hotly contested middle ground.

Its incredibly slinky design is a match for almost any other television we've seen this year, and its extensive feature list includes one of the most heavily populated and well-interfaced smart TV engines in town, as well as the sort of picture set up subtleties normally reserved for high-end models.

The 55-inch TV - priced at £1,499 (around US$2,290 / AU$2,485) - also supports playback of a wide variety of multimedia file formats. And promisingly its edge LED picture technology is supported by a contrast-boosting local dimming system, which is something we certainly don't always expect as standard on a mid-range TV.

LG 55LA740V review

If you want to go high-end instead of sticking with the mid-range LG 55LA740V, then LG has alternatives to tempt you. One step up you get the LG 55LA790W, which adds an extra HDMI port and provides a different stand design, while the LG 55LA860W provides an even trimmer design and introduces a built-in camera and high-level video processing power.

Where alternatives from other brands are concerned, the Sony 55W805A and Panasonic L55ET60 spring to mind - two models we'll cover in more detail at the end of the review.

Features

LG is very much at the top table now when it comes to TV design, and this trend extends confidently down to its latest mid-range model. As we would expect given current trends, the LG 55LA740V's bezel is extremely thin, and gains extra style points for the way it stands proud of the rear.

The television's stand is also highly striking with its unusual 'inverted arch' shape, metallic finish and open frame design.

LG 55LA740V review

There's a slight disappointment on the rear, though, where a search uncovers only three HDMI ports when we would ideally like to find four these days. This is quite a surprise on an LG TV, since the Korean brand can usually be depended on to offer more features and connections than average, rather than fewer.

The TV does, though, offer extensive multimedia playback via three USB ports and Wi-Fi-enabled DLNA network playback, and it enables you to go online with LG's latest smart TV service.

This service quickly turns out to be one of the best in the current smart TV world for two reasons. First, its interface is hugely impressive, thanks to its on-screen layout and Magic Remote handset - more on these in the Usability section.

Second, its neat folder-style menu system hosts a huge array of apps, taking in everything from games and information to those most important of online TV services, the video streaming platforms.

LG 55LA740V review

TV and film highlights are Netflix, Lovefilm, BBC iPlayer, Blinkbox, BBC Sport, YouTube and KnowHow Movies. This is a fair selection of big hitters, but it's impossible to ignore the absence of other catch-up TV services such as 4OD, ITV Player and Demand 5 - services that are all found on the latest smart TV platform from LG's arch-rival, Samsung.

But LG has done a better job than Samsung of delivering a good iOS and Android control app for its latest TVs, offering a good interface, lots of integrated functionality (versus the piecemeal approach of Samsung's control app) and a strong array of features.

As usual with an LG TV, the LG 55LA740V is endorsed by the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF), which means that as well as a couple of ISF picture preset slots that an ISF-certified engineer could use for professionally calibrating day and night modes, you get a truly expansive suite of picture tweaks.

There's colour management, gamma management, white balance adjustments, contrast boosters, sharpness boosters, noise reduction systems - the list of options really is huge.

LG 55LA740V review

Some of these features are more useful than others - the sharpness booster and noise reduction features at the very least need to be treated with extreme care if not ignored altogether when watching HD sources if you don't want them to actually make pictures worse rather than better.

Overall, though, you've got everything you need to give images believable, 'industry standard' colours if that's your thing, or extreme levels of vibrancy and punch if you prefer that.

The panel at the LG 55LA740V's heart is a Full HD affair, as is almost standard these days, and it's illuminated by an edge LED lighting array bolstered by a local dimming system, whereby sectors of the LEDs can have their brightness levels set individually, to bolster images' potential black level response and contrast.

The panel is also, of course, one of LG's passive 3D types, with no less than six pairs of cheap passive glasses included with the TV (four 3D, two for enabling two users to enjoy simultaneous full-screen gaming).