A/V corner: A review of the LG 32LH30 LCD TV

By Jeff:

Welcome to a title I just made up.  The world is always a good place when you show your versatility!  It’s quite obvious that Jim, Chris, and myself have a world of interests.

I would like to point out that I didn’t have a very good day today.  However, it isn’t because something bad happened to me.  But rather, someone’s senselessness caused my friend to have a bad day.  Seriously, if you need money, get a frickin job – leave people’s property alone.  Also, can the email at my school work consistently?  I’m tired of telling my students “email me if you have questions” only to find that the night before they have a test I can’t access my email.

But I digress.

Tonight I am reviewing the TV I just bought.  This follows the death of my previous TV.  I had a Samsung tube HDTV that I bought in 2004.  I mean, it looked fine and had two component inputs and allowed me to play my gamecube/wii, ps2, and TV all in the best possible resolution.

Then one morning I was watching Sportscenter and right in the middle of Stuart Scott’s next highlight, I looked up and saw nothing.  I still heard his voice coming through the stereo speakers.  I then smelled an electrical appliance burning, which means “unplug that tv”.  The fried TV made it to the recycling center a few days later, and my living room was without a TV.

The funniest thing is about two weeks before the old TV blew up (as I say it), I had said to my wife “I think it’s time we bought a new TV”.

Granted, the other TV’s in this house are at least 10 years old, and they work just fine.  So it’s a bit sad that this one lasted a mere 5 years.

So of course, I ordered a new TV on amazon.com.  I love ordering things from that site due to the credit card rewards that give me gift cards for money spent.  So this TV was almost an entire $25 gift card.  Plus, I also received free shipping.

Well anyway, I got the TV on a Saturday morning via Fedex and had it set up in an hour.  I went shopping for a few cables (namely an HDMI cable) and fired it up.

The LG 32LH30 LCD TV is a 32 inch wide screen HDMI ready viewing machine.  Soon as I fired it up I loved it.  The screen is so so much brighter than a CRT TV.  The fact that I can now actually see the HD channels I get in their native widescreen is tremendous.

The setup on the TV is tailored to HDMI.  The back of the set includes 3 HDMI inputs (one on the side, two on the back), 1 component input, 2 composite inputs, optical in/out, and a standard cable input.  I would rather it have came with a 2nd component input simply because there’s a lot of devices that do not have HDMI out that people still use.  Yes many people still have only component outputs (and still others only composite/s-video), so the sole input makes hooking up all your devices simultaneously a bit trickier.  Most people will have to buy a video switcher.

Just to give you an idea of what I have in my setup – I have a Wii, HDMI cable box, PS2, DVD player, Sony receiver, and a 200 CD changer (that’s on its last legs).  Of course, the Wii and PS2 are component able, so I lucked out that I can hook them into my receiver, and use it as a video switcher, and hook a third set of cables into the TV.

The bad news is that, when I change video sources, I have to change them both on my TV and on my receiver.  So again, if you can deal like me, then that isn’t a big deal.

The picture set up mode is something i’m still tweaking with.  A beginner to picture setup can easily set up their TV to an acceptable picture by using the Tv’s “Picture Wizard”.  What it does is basically take the user through a series of images that look different depending on the TV’s settings, which includes an “optimal” image that you should try to obtain.  With each setting change, the TV’s settings change without the user needing to bother with “What the hell does the contrast do?”  I tried it the first try, but again since i’m aware of what these are, I didn’t find it necessary to use.  However, I did note that the interface is sort of idiot proof.

For those that don’t need a safety net, the LG 32LH30 offers a tremendous array of picture tweaks.  There are presets for “Cinema”, “Sports”, and “Game”.  For my video games, I find the “Sports” setting to be quite nice – especially for the Wii games.  But if presets still aren’t enough tweaking, there are 6 zoom functions, and a up to 20 level scalable “cinema zoom”, which takes letterboxed DVD’s and stretches them vertically as much or as little as you want.  There’s also a setup option that allows you to use the TV as an audio pass through instead of a monitor – that is, you can turn off the video, but keep the audio.  This is perfect if you want to put on the music channels most cable companies provide, but don’t need to see the facts on the screen about the music.  You can also disable the onboard TV speakers (recommended if you have a receiver like most techies).

The coolest thing i’ve found so far is the extra HDMI inputs allow me to hook my laptop up to the TV.  It’s perfect for me because my DVD player can play DVDs in a very high resolution on my laptop, and I can now send that to the TV!  The computer screen on the TV is a bit too “fine” for my needs, but it is perfect if you’re watching a bunch of Youtube videos or, as mentioned, a DVD.  I can also play SOME of my computer games on it, and they look really really good.

There aren’t too many drawbacks other than the ones already mentioned.  The thing I don’t like is that the provided TV stand is very basic.  It allows you to tilt the TV horizontally +/- 20 degrees, but there is no vertical tilt.  There also is no vertical height adjustment (sorry Dr. K) allowed, so I had to get a few very thick phone books that were of the same height (harder than it looks!) and drape a black towel over them just to raise the TV to a height I want.  In my setup, I was able to put the center speaker on top of the old CRT, but that’s not possible with an LCD.  The only options are to put it right below the TV or on a shelf above the TV for optimal sound quality.  The speaker I own would block the bottom portion if I didn’t raise the height of it.

Also, the buttons for the TV are located on the side of the TV which is fine, but the one I use the most is the power button.  At the very least, a power button should’ve been included on the front of the screen.  If you’re like most people, your TV is already in a tight fitting area, and it is a minor inconvenience to reach back behind the TV to turn it off if I don’t want to use the remote.

But for the money I spent for it, this TV is all that I could want and more.  If I get another video source, I have space to hook it up to the HDMI connection.  The digital out to my amplifier ensures that if there is a Dolby Digital soundtrack or better that my receiver will make it sound the best it can.  And while it is certainly geared to today’s HDMI devices, again make sure you buy a video switcher if you have multiple component video sources like I do (or be lucky with your receiver being a good switcher on its own).

And if you are in the market to buy a flat screen, LCD TV’s prices are much much better and more affordable now.  I can safely recommend this one to you.  If you can splurge a little bit (i.e. more than $300), then this TV is worth it.

This is one in a series of acoustic cover songs, original music, and free mp3 downloads here on the Laptop Sessions Music Video Blog.

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