After Hours

Geek Gifts 2009: LG Electronics 42LH50 LCD TV

The era of Internet-enabled television has arrived in form of a 42-inch LCD television from LG Electronics. We ask whether it is time to jump in.

Want more reviews of tech gadgets and gizmos? Download the PDF of TechRepublic's Geek Gift Guide 2009.

Internet-enabled everything is a mantra you often hear from marketers of electronic gizmos, but the allure has not really captured the mind of the general consumer. They remain apathetic about Internet connected refrigerators and the like. However, there is one device that will surely benefit from an Internet connection and will likely bring the multimedia geek out in just about everyone - the television.

The 42LH50 LCD TV from LG Electronics is one of the latest Internet-enabled televisions to come on the market. Besides the expected great LCD display and quality sound, this LG TV has some smarts that allow it to take advantage of online multimedia via Yahoo Widgets, Netflix, and others. This is the future of television and you'd best get ready.

Specifications

  • Screen Size: 42" (42.0" Diagonal)
  • Native Display Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (1080p)
  • Full HD: Yes
  • Brightness: 500 cd/m2
  • Smooth Motion Technology: Yes
  • Dynamic Contrast Ratio: 70,000:1
  • Response Time: 2.7ms
  • TruMotion: 120Hz
  • Built-In Tuner: Yes (ATSC/NTSC/Clear QAM)
  • HDMI/HDCP Input: 4
  • TV without stand (WxHxD): 41.4" x 25.9" x 3.6"
  • TV with stand (WxHxD): 41.4" x 28.3" x 11.7"
  • Price: $850 on Amazon
  • LG Electronics information
  • TechRepublic Photo Gallery

What I like

LG Electronics is a solid brand name, and its products reflect that. The LH50 series LCDs have great picture quality and are well designed. With a slew of input connections, including four HDMI ports, this LCD TV could easily take the role as the all-everything display for your living/family room.

But what sets the 42LH50 apart from other comparable LCD TVs is that it is Internet-enabled. And that means you can connect the TV directly to your home network with an Ethernet cable and get multimedia streamed to your TV without the aid of a computer or other external device.

For example, if you are a Netflix subscriber, you can get movies streamed to your 42LH50 just as if you had connected the Roku Netflix Player. Or you can check the latest sports news through the sports Yahoo Widget. There are also embedded applications for YouTube and Vudu among others.

What I don't like

While I like the inclusion of the Internet-enabled Yahoo Widgets, Netflix Player, YouTube, etc., I am left wanting more. I want HD YouTube; I want more Yahoo Widgets; I want to view Web pages; and I want more choices. I want it all.

The Internet-enabled features of the 42LH50 feel more like a prototype or proof of concept set of applications. There will eventually be more widgets than we can ever hope to use, but it is not there yet.

One notable item is missing: a wireless connection. It would seem to me to be an obvious addition to the system that you could connect to the home network via 802.11. Bluetooth for a keyboard would be a welcome addition too — it must be on every manufacturer's radar.

Geek bottom line

The 42LH50 LCD TV from LG Electronics is a fine television and a decent bargain at $850. If you are looking to get a good-sized, quality television for a good price for the TV geek in your family, you would not go wrong with this LCD. And, when you add in the Internet-enabled features, you get a very geek-worthy purchase. But, even with that being said, most of us geeky multimedia fans are going to find ourselves wanting more because this TV is merely a glimpse of the future.

Geek gift score (out of 5)

  • Fun factor: ***
  • Geek factor: ****
  • Value: ****
  • Overall: ****

About Mark Kaelin

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox