For this review we tested the 42in model in the LA690V range, but it’s also available in 47in (47LA690V) and 55in (55LA690V) screen sizes. All models have identical specifications except for their dimensions and power usage. We’re confident that image quality will be practically identical across the range.
Ultra-thin bezels are becoming the norm on top-end TVs this year, but to see one on the mid-range LG 42LA690V is impressive. Instead of having a chunky rim that runs all the way round the screen, here the glass goes right to the edge TV, giving you a thinner, more compact display. There’s still a thin metal bar running along the bottom of the screen to house the IR receiver for the remote, but its brushed metal finish looks smart and stylish alongside its unusual curved stand.
The LA690V certainly works hard to catch your eye, but it’s the TV’s smart content that’s even more impressive. You’ll need to connect it to your home network using its integrated Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet port, but it’s very easy to set up and we were up and running within minutes of turning the TV on.
In the Smart portal, a small window shows you a live feed of your currently selected source while the rest of the screen is taken up with five different app hubs centred on films and catch-up TV, on-demand films, games, shared content from other devices in your home network, and Smart World, which is LG’s general app store. The vast majority of apps are free, but a few require a small fee.
For a mid-range TV, its smart content is excellent. Netflix, LoveFilm, KnowHow Movies and BlinkBox all come pre-installed along with BBC iPlayer, Sky’s Now TV, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and a web-browser. LG’s motion-controlled Magic remote makes it easy to scroll through its menus, too, thanks to its mouse pointer and mouse wheel in the middle of the remote. It comes with a standard remote as well, but the Magic remote is far more intuitive to use when using apps. Menus don’t take long to load, either, so you won’t be left waiting when you fire up an app.
On the back, there are three HDMI inputs, SCART, component and composite inputs. One of the HDMI inputs supports ARC, so you can send sound from your TV back to a connect amp. It’s also good to see that one of the HDMI inputs supports MHL. If you use an MHL cable to connect a supported phone or tablet, you can simultaneously view content from your mobile device while charging it.
Using your phone’s not the only way to view media files, as you can use the USB ports to play content via a flash drive, while DLNA support means you can stream files over your network from a media server. All of our videos work perfectly, including H.264 and MKV video files. The 42LA690V’s audio format support wasn’t quite so wide ranging, as it only picked up and played our OGG, MP3, WAV and WMA files. You’ll also only be able to view JPG image files, as the TV failed to recognise our BMP, PNG, TIFF and GIF files.
For TV, there’s a built-in Freeview HD receiver and a DVB-S2 satellite receiver; the latter isn’t Freesat compatible, so it’s not a lot of use in the UK. Standard definition content upscaled well on the LA690V, but we found the noise reduction settings were vital to improving the picture. Without them, channels were full of noise and grain, particularly low quality Freeview HD channels like BBC News. Increasing noise reduction to High still didn’t produce the perfect picture, but we were able to erase most artefacts while still maintaining a good level of detail. Even HD channels needed a little noise reduction to get the clearest picture, but this certainly wasn’t an issue when we played our Blu-Ray test footage.
Here, the LA690V looked fantastic. The backlight was evenly lit all the way across the screen and colours were sharp and vibrant. Its contrast levels were excellent as well, as night scenes were packed full of detail regardless of whether we had the lights on or not and while blacks were a little bluish at first, we were able to deepen them by decreasing the backlight.
There are seven picture modes to choose from, but we used Cinema, as this gave us access to the widest range of picture settings. In the Expert Control menu, you’ll find options for dynamic contrast, colour gamut, colour filters, gamma and white balance, as well as a resolution enhancer and a colour management centre where you can adjust the saturation, tint and luminance of all the major colours.
We were impressed with how LG’s TruMotion frame interpolation handled fast action sequences. Clear was a little too smooth for our liking, and we noticed quite a significant amount of tearing at this setting, but we found Smooth was just right. We still noticed a little bit of tearing on occasion, but there’s also an extra User mode where you can adjust the image smoothness yourself to help combat this.
The LA690V is also 3D ready and comes with four pairs of passive 3D glasses. We found that the glasses didn’t dim the screen too much, so the TV’s excellent picture quality is left more or less intact.
The 3D settings are also quite comprehensive. You can adjust the depth of field and the 3D viewpoint so images appear closer or farther away from the screen, but we didn’t feel the need to change these as its default settings already provided a good balance between each feature. The 3D wasn’t particularly deep, but changing the depth and viewpoint quickly introduced some unwanted crosstalk and ghosting, so we left them as they were.
The TV’s integrated speakers were good, too. There was plenty of bass and volume available for everyday viewing, but we’d still recommend a sound bar or dedicated speakers for the best home cinema experience.
The LG 42LA690V is an excellent smart TV that’s much better value than many other TVs in this price range. Considering its excellent range of features, great looks and comprehensive picture settings, it wins a Best Buy award.
optical S/PDIF out
headphone output, CI slot, RJ45 LAN
Freeview HD, DVB-S2
||Power consumption standby
|Power consumption on
one year parts and labour