The LA7400 Series falls in the middle of LG's 2013 TV line, below such premium options as the 55EA9800 OLED TV and the LM9600/LA9700 Ultra HD offerings. Still, the LA7400 Series comes fully loaded with many of LG's top-shelf performance technologies and features. The series includes screen sizes of 60, 55, and 47 inches; LG sent us a sample of the 55-inch 55LA7400. This 1080p LCD TV uses LG's LED Plus lighting system that places the LEDs around the edge of the TV and employs local dimming to more precisely tailor the screen brightness to the content being displayed. The 55LA7400 also offers TruMotion 240Hz technology to reduce motion blur and film judder, as well as ISF Expert picture modes. The 55LA7400 is a passive 3D TV, with four pairs of glasses included. LG's Smart TV Web platform is here, with built-in WiFi, DLNA media streaming, and the motion-controlled Magic Remote with voice recognition and universal control capability. The 55LA7400 carries an MSRP of $2,299.99.
Setup and Features
The 55LA7400 has a sleek, petite form factor with a single-pane front face and only about 5mm of black border around the screen's perimeter. A silver accent strip runs around the frame's edge. The matching silver stand is made of plastic that looks and feels cheaper than the stands that accompany recent Samsung, Sony, and Panasonic TVs I've reviewed. The stand has a unique swivel mechanism on its underside that allows the whole set to swivel at once, but the amount of swivel seems limited compared with a traditional design. The cabinet depth is only about one inch, except along the bottom, where the two down-firing speakers and subwoofer add another two inches to the overall depth. The TV weighs about 44 pounds without the stand.
The 55LA7400's connection panel includes three HDMI inputs, one shared component/composite input, and one RF input to access the internal ATSC and Clear-QAM tuners. There's no dedicated PC input. All three HDMI inputs are side-facing for easy access; one supports ARC, and another supports MHL devices. Optical digital audio and headphone outputs are located on the backside. Three USB ports are available for media playback and the addition of peripherals like a USB camera and/or keyboard. (The more expensive LA8600 Series adds a built-in camera; as best I can tell, the addition of the camera and a fourth HDMI input are the only differences between it and the LA7400.) An Ethernet port is available for a wired network connection, or you can use the built-in 802.11n WiFi module.
The motion-controlled Magic Remote is the only remote included in the package, and it communicates with the TV over Bluetooth. The small, curvy remote includes hard buttons for power, volume, channel, mute, 3D, quick menu, back, and directional arrows. A scroll wheel in the center of the directional arrows also serves as the enter/OK key when you press it. To "wake up" the Magic Remote's motion control, you have to give the remote a little shake from side to side. Then you can simply point and click on the menu options displayed on the screen. I found the responsiveness of the motion control to be good with both my left and right hands, and it makes onscreen text entry much faster, since you can just point at each letter you want. If you tire of waving the magic wand, you can always use the remote's directional arrows for navigation instead. The Magic Remote has a built-in microphone; press the mic button and speak into the remote to launch commands and perform searches (more on this in a moment). LG also offers a free iOS/Android control app called "LG TV Remote" that includes a virtual keyboard for text entry, as well as a touchpad that will move the motion pointer around the screen to mimic the Magic Remote's motion control. The remote app also has second-screen support to watch video from the TV on your mobile device, but it does not work if you're using an HDMI connection from your source to the TV (it only works for component, composite, and RF video signals).
The 55LA7400 includes all of the advanced picture adjustments we like to see. You get seven picture modes, including two ISF Expert modes and a Cinema mode. Advanced adjustments include two-point and 20-point white-balance controls, individual color management of all six color points, Super Resolution, five color gamuts, three gamma presets, and noise reduction. LG's Picture Wizard II is available to walk you through an automatic setup procedure to adjust basic controls like brightness, contrast, color, tint, and sharpness. The TruMotion 240Hz setup menu includes options for Off, Smooth, Clear, Clear Plus, and a User mode that allows you to individually adjust the blur and judder settings. Finally, there's a menu option for LED Local Dimming, in which you can adjust the aggressiveness of the control, with options for Low, Medium, High, and Off. We'll discuss performance in the next section.
In the 3D realm, you get a whole new set of picture modes to work with and have access to all of the same adjustments I just listed. Additionally, you can manually adjust the 3D depth and viewpoint and swap the left/right images. 2D-to-3D conversion is also available on this model.
The audio setup menu includes six sound modes, with a User setting that includes a five-band equalizer. A virtual surround mode is available, as is a generic Auto Volume function to minimize volume discrepancies. LG's Clear Voice II function brings up the level of vocals to make them easier to hear, while Sound Optimizer adjusts the output based on the TV's placement on a wall or stand. AV Sync is available. LG's decision to add a little more cabinet depth for the speakers and subwoofer pays off, as this TV is able to produce fuller, more dynamic audio than many of the uber-thin panels now on the market.
This year's Smart TV interface retains the same basic look as in years past, but LG has added some new functions and improved others. The Home Page consists of different panels that group similar services together. There's a panel for Premium apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus, VUDU, CinemaNow, MGo, Crackle, and Skype. The 3D World panel is dedicated to 3D content. Smart World takes you to the LG app store to add more services. Game World groups all your gaming apps together. My Interests allows you to customize a news feed based on subjects you care about. Smart Share is where you can access personal media via USB, DLNA, LG's Cloud Player, or even using Near Field Communication with a mobile device (the 55LA7400's package includes an NFC tag that you can adhere to the TV, and LG offers a "Tag On" app for your NFC-compatible smartphone). I had no trouble streaming media content from my MacBook using PLEX, and from a Samsung tablet using AllShare.
The final panel is called "On Now." Similar to Samsung's new "On TV" feature that I discussed in my review of the UN55F8000 (link tk), LG's "On Now" panel gives content recommendations from the various video-on-demand Web services, but it can also show recommendations for what's playing through your cable/satellite/OTA service. Through the On Now setup menu, you can tell LG what service provider you use to get programming info, and you can very easily program the Magic Remote to control your cable/satellite set-top box, as well as a few other source components. Whereas the Samsung system requires an IR extender cable to control your set-top box, LG sends control commands to the box using RF without the need for any additional cable connection. Because the Magic Remote has so few hard buttons on it, a lot of your advanced channel-tuning and DVR commands must be accessed through the 55LA7400's onscreen Quick Menu, which takes some getting used to in the beginning. Since the LG TV can access your programming guide, you can also do advanced searches using the remote's Voice Mate voice recognition. Hit the remote's microphone button and ask what football games or news shows are on now, and you'll get an onscreen list showing the requested content. In this respect, the LG search system worked just as well as Samsung's in finding and recommending content. In fact, in my particular case, the LG system worked better. The Samsung On TV system had the wrong channel numbers for Dish Network, so it would often take me to the wrong channel. LG had the right info in place for Dish Network, so the process worked better. All in all, the LG Smart TV service is well-executed and as fully featured as you could want, although I did feel that Samsung's platform was cleaner, faster, and a bit more intuitive to navigate.
Other features include a Web browser that is somewhat slow to load pages; it supports Flash, but video playback was very choppy. You can wirelessly connect mobile devices directly to the TV via WiFi Direct and use Miracast/Intel WiDi to view the screen of compatible PCs and mobile devices. Dual Play is available for gamers - when you aren't using the 3D technology to watch 3D content, you can use it to view a full-screen 2D image while playing compatible split-screen video games. This function requires special glasses (F310DP).
Read about the performance of the LG 55LA7400 LED/LCD HDTV on Page 2.