With a sleek and striking profile, the LG 42SL90 looks like it may be a winner. It has a 42-inch HD screen with edge-lit LED backlighting which allows for a cabinet that measures just 1.2 inches thick, but produces a significant amount of back light glare around the sides that proves annoying and distracting. Colors are accurate and picture detail is good, but black levels could be better. And for $2,000, having no Web connectivity options is discouraging.
Without question, the 42SL90 looks awesome. The 42-inch panel is covered with edge-to-edge glass over a very thin bezel. And at just 1.2 inches deep, the LG 42SL90 is one of the thinnest HDTVs on the market and can be easily mounted up against a wall. Along the left side are an HDMI port and USB port for playing music and viewing photos stored on a portable device. On the right side are seven slim function-control buttons including Power, Channel, Volume, Input and Menu switches. The rear of the cabinet includes three additional HMDI ports, RGB video and audio inputs, two sets of component video and audio inputs, a coaxial TV jack and an RS-232 service port. There aren't any Ethernet ports for connecting to the Web, memory card reader or integrated Wi-Fi. Again, for a price tag of $2,000, you would expect these things.
The 42SL90 comes with two remotes; a 42-button baton style full-featured wand that has four zones providing keys for Power, selecting an Energy-Saving mode, Input selection and all other standard player controls. It also has a spacious number pad and Volume and Channel controls with a four-way rocker for navigation through and selecting menu items.
One of the bright sides with this LG TV is the on-screen menu system: it's easy to understand and uses big icons to help guide you through the various sub-menus. In additional to the usual brightness, contrast, color temperature and preset viewing modes, the 32SL90 offers an intuitive Picture Wizard that helps you calibrate the TV to obtain an optimal viewing experience. The audio menu offers LG's ClearVoice II technology that amplifies human voice frequencies so that they can be heard above the din of special sound effects or crowd noise. And if you've ever had to deal with sitting through extra loud commercials, you will enjoy the Auto Volume Leveler feature which ensures the volume level remains constant throughout the broadcast. The LG Invisible Speaker System delivers plenty of volume and a SRS TruSurround XT sound mode, but bass output is lacking.
The 42SL90's measured darkroom contrast ratio of 924:1 is surprisingly low for an LED-backlit TV and the black level, as previously stated, was also subpar. We believe both are a result of uneven backlighting. The edge-mounted LEDs caused glare around the borders of the panel which looks similar to a back light bleed condition. Even with the picture mode set to Cinema, which uses a fairly low back light setting, the panel remains too bright to produce very dark blacks. Picture clarity and colors were very accurate, however. The panel's viewing angle suffers from backlighting as well; even a few steps off of dead-center results in a glare problem and washed-out picture.
HDTVs that use LED backlighting are notorious for energy efficiency and the 42SL90 is no exception. It averaged 102 watts while displaying HD content. With the Energy-Saving mode at its maximum setting, the TV used a mere 63 watts, but that setting looks too dark and virtually unwatchable.
The LG 42SL90 appears to be one of the coolest-looking and slender HDTVs around, but with a $2,000 price tag, you'd expect more. Even with Internet-streaming capabilities and a memory card reader, the LG would still be lacking when you consider the price.