on June 15, 2013
(Since buying the 32" version of this model, I have also purchased the 42" version- just about everything in this review is also applicable to the 42" version- see my full edits and additions at the end of this review)
I needed a small HDTV for my home office to watch news, etc while working. It's located 3.5' away from me on a file cabinet next to my desk. It turned out to be a bit larger than I expected for viewing that close, but after watching it for a few days I decided I really liked the size and didn't return it.
The LED back lighting is pretty even, it's not edge-lit, so it doesn't suffer from the bright-edge effect that many edge-lit HDTVs have, and not buying an edge-lit model was a main deciding factor. The off-axis viewing angle- left to right and below to above is pretty good, not as good as my CFL back-lit Samsung, but the LG cost a small fraction of the Samsung and there will never be a room full of people seated around watching it in my office like the Samsung in the living room. If you get off-axis far enough you will see some variation in the backlighting on scenes that have a uniformly dark background, like movie titles over a black background, but I doubt that most people would ever sit that far off-angle or notice it.
The colorimetry was pretty terrible out of the box, and I was worried that I would have to send it back because I found it unacceptable, but after a half an hour of tweaking, viewing and tweaking some more I arrived at settings that were nearly equal to my Samsung and was satisfied with the results.
The built-in speakers are down- and rear- firing, intended to bounce off what the HDTV is sitting on and/or the wall behind it if wall-mounted, and are adequate if you're in a quiet room. In a noisy environment, you may not find them adequate. In that case, there is an optical output on the back, intended to be connected to a speaker bar with it's own built-in amplifier or to a sound system (stereo or A/V) . One of the inadequacies of the manual which I'll discuss more fully later is that there is pretty much nothing mentioned about which models of LG speaker bars are compatible except the trade-mark "SoundSync" which I have not found mentioned anywhere in any of the LG speaker bars online or on the LG website itself. Something I noted about the volume control is that it appears to operate on a linear curve rather than logarithmic curve (which is normally used because it closely matches the response of one's hearing)- what this means is when you increase the volume to 50% of it's range, the apparent volume to your ear will sound like about 90% of it's full range, and there will be a much smaller increase in sound level when increased from 50% to 100%. An oddity that hopefully can be corrected in a future firmware upgrade, and not a deal-killer.
I don't have a speaker bar, but I do have a wireless surround headset, and I connected it to the optical output to see if it would work. At this point I found that only the internal speakers or the optical output can be enabled at any one time, and this is not a problem if you're using a speaker bar, but I would have preferred to have an option to have both enabled at the same time so that I could used the mute button to kill the speakers when I want to use the headphones, instead of having to go through several layers of menus to do the same function. A bit annoying, but again, not a deal-killer. The wireless surround headset (an old Sony MDR-DS6000) were a huge improvement over the internal speakers.
HDMI inputs work well, and my old, spare Panasonic DMP-BD35 Blu-ray player provided excellent quality picture and audio via HDMI input, as did a Windows 7 Media Center computer. I did not test any USB streaming devices, the analog outputs or the headphone output.
I connected a basic 4-dipole un-amplified antenna (AntennasDirect DB4, no longer available for sale) that I had lying around just to make sure the tuner works. It's simply stuck in a window, pointed at a 90 degree angle away from all of the area broadcast towers and looking directly at a tree with full foliage outside the window. Even under such adverse conditions the HDTV gets quite a few stations, so if given a better antenna location I think the tuner would perform quite well.
Netflix streaming works quite well and I haven't experienced any issues. I haven't tried any other of the Smart-TV options at this point.
I don't love the menu system. It's not as user-friendly as my Samsung HDTV is, and I think many people will find it confusing. I've gotten used to it, but like I said, I don't love it.
The manual is the worst part of this HDTV. Many things are not explained or not explained well. I mentioned about the lack of specifics regarding compatible speaker bars above.
Another omission is information about the optional Skype camera- in the manual it only mentions the models AN-VC4** and AN-VC5**... after a lot of searching, I found only one model, the AN-400 on an LG foreign country website. Searching for this camera turned up sellers in Hong Kong, Great Britain and Australia (on Amazon and Ebay) for very high prices ($200+). Apparently the AN-VC5** is not yet available in any country in the world... This HDTV is a 2013 model, so maybe the accessories have not caught up with the HDTV model year yet. After a lot more searching I found the AN-VC400 available in the US for $99. From comments on the LG User forums it appears that one must use the LG webcams only with this HDTV. I tried several webcams I had and they were not recognized by the HDTV. This is kind of absurd for LG to exclude something as ubiquitous as a webcam from working unless it is one of their own manufacture, in my opinion. I'm still searching to see if other users have found cameras that will work, but the ones I've tried so far have worked universally on both Apple and Windows products and are very generic. The reviews of the LG cameras have been mixed.
Also, in the menu system there is mention of connecting to wireless headsets, but no mention of anything about that in the manual. When I was searching for a new set of surround headsets I did run across a few that said they were compatible with some LG models (this particular LG model was not in the list)- I believe they were Sennheiser brand, but I'm not certain. There is no indication whether these are Blu-tooth, or other RF or what frequency range they operate on.
Wireless connection- The MAC address (the unique hardware ID for the internal wireless adapter) is nowhere to be found. Because I've set the security up on my network to only allow access to devices which I own by including their MAC address in the router access table, I had to spend a significant amount of time to identify the MAC address for the LG HDTV before I could access it wirelessly. This information is required by the FCC to be displayed on the outside of the device on a tag or sticker, but was not on the LG anywhere. I realize most people may not be affected by this, but this information should have been displayed for those whose are security-minded like myself.
From the comments left at the LG user forums, people generally have reported that LG support reps are difficult to contact and less than helpful.
One final note: As others report, the base of the HDTV does not swivel or tilt, it is fixed... not a deal-breaker for me, but it might be for others.
OVERALL: I think this HDTV is a good value for the price and produces very adequate quality pictures for a secondary screen. I would not buy this for viewing Blu-ray movies in my living room or home theater, but it's good enough that I bought a second one, a 42" model to put in one of my bedrooms for occasional use. If you can put up with the lousy manual that is greatly lacking in information, it's probably a good-to-great choice for you.
A BRIEF RESUME OF THE REVIEWER: I am an engineer for one of the three television broadcast networks and a great deal of my work day involves critically observing, analyzing and making corrections to HDTV media to ensure that what you see at home is the best it can be; I spend most of my day staring at high quality HDTV monitors, and my standards and expectations are unquestionably higher than the average person.
EDIT 6/29/2013: Since buying the 32" version of this model, I have also purchased the 42" version for occasional use in my bedroom. Just about everything in this review is applicable to the 42" version, although I found that my optimal video settings for the 42" were just slightly different; this is partly due to the lighting in the 2 rooms being different- starting out with the settings I used on the 32" and applying them to the 42", I only had to make 3 minor changes to the brightness, contrast and color saturation to make both match each other closely.
Also, I read one other reviewer mention that the screen is a matte finish... I would have to disagree with this. I have a Samsung HDTV that has a glossy screen, and a Samsung monitor that has a matte screen... I would have to call the LG screens for this model semi-gloss- you can definitely see reflections of objects and lights in the screen that are clearly defined when the HDTV is off, unlike my Samsung monitor where any refections appear as undefined blobs of uneven lighting, but somewhat less pronounced than my Samsung HDTV which has clearly defined reflections when it is turned off.
An interested shopper asked whether the Smart App supported Amazon Prime yet... the answer at this point is that the firmware for both models I own does not support Amazon Prime as of 6/29/2013. Hopefully it will be updated in the future like some other LG models allegedly have been. I have a ROKU box that supports Amazon Prime, and honestly, Netflix video quality is much better to Amazon Prime at this time and Netflix has a much wider variety and greater quantity of programming, so I'm not really put off by not having Amazon Prime support at this point. Hopefully Amazon will up their game and improve the quality of their streaming products in the near future- I am a Prime customer, but I really don't take advantage of my access because the quality disappoints me whenever I watch something on Amazon.
Other reviewers have stated that the headphone jack doesn't work, or that the headphone level is inadequate. The headphones must be enabled in the menu, and there is no setting for both the headphones and the speakers (or any other audio output for that matter) to be enabled at the same time. I personally would like to not have to go to the menu to switch back and forth. The headphones and speaker volumes are controlled separately, depending on which is enabled, and will return to the last setting for each, depending on which is currently available. When the headphones are first accessed, they are at a default low-level setting even if the speakers were last set to maximum, so one might not think they are working unless the volume is advanced. Once advanced, it will stay there after switching back to the speakers, which will remain at the last setting they were set at. The headphones at maximum are barely adequate in a noisy environment, and I agree with the reviewer that stated the volume range on the headphones is inadequate... it's just barely usable in my opinion, with no overhead for programming that doesn't have adequate volume level to begin with.
Another interested shopper asked a question about the wall-mount hole spacing on the back of the HDTV. The 32" model has 200mm x 100mm spacing (which is an uncommon spacing) and the 42" model has 200mm x 200mm spacing.
One final note about screens on this model... the 42" model in my bedroom is on top of a bookcase, and when lying in bed I have to look up at it... if my track lights are on while watching TV, there is a definite reflection from each track light that is reflected in a rainbow on 4 axis from each light source... it's very pronounced, and is likely an artifact of the light reflecting on the LED diffusion panel at the rear of the LCD screen; my Samsung HDTV does not exhibit this same tendency, it simply reflects an image of the light itself, however the Samsung has CFL illumination, and a different backlight diffusion technology, and this could be a characteristic of the LED illumination engineering. At any rate, when viewing the screen from eye-level, these reflections are not visible. Eventually, my plans are to wall-mount this and at that point I can tilt the screen slightly down and the reflections will no longer be a factor. As I stated below in my original review, I would not pick these models as my primary HDTV for my living room or home theater, but I think they are very good choices for what I purchased them for... for secondary occasional use in my home office and bedroom.
Update 8-21-2013- I did get a wall mount for the 42" LG in my bedroom and angled it so that I was viewing almost straight-on while lying in bed, as I mentioned above that I was planning to do. This was very effective at getting rid of the reflections from my track lighting that I mentioned above. The wall-mount was a fairly simple slimline mount, and only cost $20 on Amazon, so it didn't break the bank. I have a low platform bed and the LG is mounted fairly high on the wall, so unless you have a similar viewing scenario, you should not be affected by the same kind of reflections.
Update 8-22-2013- I checked to see if there was any new firmware for the 32LN5700 and found that Ver. 04.00.20 is now available for both my 32LN5700 and 42LN5700. I updated the firmware and found that the Amazon instant video app is a part of this firmware update. After starting up the app (which took a long time the first time on the 32LN5700 and didn't complete, but on the second try it was faster and completed starting up) the first Amazon instant video screen appeared. From the Amazon instant video screen press the yellow button on the remote for 'help', Select 'Prime Instant Video', arrow over to 'Register your device' at the top of the screen, then on the following screen arrow down to 'Register Your Device'. A 5 digit code will appear. After you have the code go to the Amazon.com/mytv website on your computer and enter the 5-digit code that was displayed on the xxLN5700 to register the HDTV with your account and select your credit card info, billing address and a 5-digit PIN. Once registration is complete you'll have free Amazon Prime instant video (if you're a Prime member) and access to paid videos as well. If you're not a Prime member, the registration should be very similar and easy enough to figure out.