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By Thomas McKinnon 6 April 2010

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LG is developing a reputation for designing "talking piece" TVs. The Scarlet for instance garnered a huge amount of attention thanks to its seductive colouring and well-executed ad campaigns. LG’s latest talking piece, the SL90, is grabbing attention for similar, if not more understated reasons.

Design

The SL90 is probably the most refined looking Full HD TV we’ve ever reviewed. It features a single pane of glass that runs from edge-to-edge. When off, the TV looks like a solid black rectangle, creating the illusion that the screen is borderless. It''s not though; it still has a border which you notice when it’s switched on. At less than an inch thick and concealed behind the glass panel, the border does nothing to detract from the TV’s overall clean look. As impressive as the SL90’s flush glass face is its thin profile, standing at less than 30 mm thick.

LED TV

The SL90’s thin profile is made possible by the fact that it’s an edge-lit LED-LCD TV. This means that its screen is lit by distributed LED lights rather than larger fluorescent (CCFL) lights. The LED backlighting also allows for an impressive contract ratio of 3 000 000: 1, which really enhances your viewing experience thanks to almost true blacks. We were thoroughly impressed by the picture quality on offer, the deep blacks and even flesh tones look amazing.

The other benefit of the LED backlighting is that it supposedly consumes less electricity than conventional LCD TVs. The power savings are unlikely to translate to any significant reductions in your power bill though.

Connectivity

As a full HD set, the SL90 offer three HDMI ports, which is more than enough to support all your HD peripheral devices. Other connectivity options include a D-sub port for PC input, composite video and AV ports.

The set also offers a USB 2.0 port which supports DivX playback. After plugging in a USB stick the TV will automatically prompt you view pictures or video, which you can select via the remote control. You can then browse your media and select what you want to view – it really is very straight forward.

We found the inclusion of Bluetooth connectivity to be fairly odd- it isn’t exactly a high priority feature for a TV. It may come in handy for people who watch TV with wireless headphones on or want to quickly view images from their cellphone on a larger display however.

Usability

LG’s menu system on the SL90 (setting the TV up, switching inputs, adjusting settings, etc.) is fantastic. The menu structure is logical, the text is always legible and the iconography is clear. It''s easily one of the most logical and user friendly menu systems we’ve encountered.

Conclusion

The SL90 is a superb HD TV. We were loath to return it to LG after testing; it was one of those products that’s exciting to setup, hassle free to use and genuinely improves your entertainment experience. The only thing that failed to impress us was the sound. It wasn’t bad, with a built-in Invisible Speaker System, but hooking it up to your home theatre system is advised.

The SL90 is available in a 42" model for R25 999 and in a 47" model for R34 999. While this is an intimidating price tag, the SL90 is a better buy than its thicker LCD cousin the SL80 which is available in a 42" model for R23 999, in a 47" model for R31 999, and in a 55" model for R45 999.

PROS
A 3 000 000:1 contrast ratio and a beautiful design.
CONS
Quality of sound from the built-in speaker system is underwhelming.
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