Our original review continues below:
Ask anyone cruising into middle age, and they’ll tell you 49 is the new 36. And that’s equally true of TV screen sizes: where once we were all happy to make do with a thirty-something television, these days 49 inches is a standard and unremarkable size.
And while our desire for a bigger screen is on the up, the price we have to pay for it is ever-decreasing. You only have to look at this 49UM7400 from LG – it’s got the sort of specification that would have cost twice the £449 asking price not so long ago. But that doesn’t automatically make it a bargain. £449 is a lot of money to spend if the TV you buy doesn’t satisfy. So can the LG UM7400 square the price/performance circle?
LG UM7400 review: What you need to know
The 49UM7400 is a 3,840 x 2,160 4K HDR TV that uses an IPS LCD panel. It’s part of a range built to mop up sales from those customers who aren’t early adopters, don’t want an enormous television and who aren’t about to spend a month’s salary on a new TV – but who nevertheless don’t want to go without the niceties we’ve all come to expect even from mid-range TVs like this.
In that respect, it has pretty much everything. You get a usable Smart TV interface with apps for all the major streaming services, and you can pick from 43in, 49in and 55in models. It has one key benefit, too: the UM7400’s IPS panel does have its downsides (which we’ll discuss further down the page) but it also has wider viewing angles than TVs which use VA technology. If you’re going to mount your TV up on a wall or in a corner, and you’ll mainly be watching it from the side or below rather than head-on, a TV with a VA panel will look pale and washed out – the UM7400 won’t suffer as badly in this kind of scenario.
LG UM7400 review: Key specifications
|Screen sizes available||43in 43UM7400PLB|
|Streaming services supported||Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, BBC iPlayer, Freeview Play (HDR supported)|
|HDR formats supported||HDR10 Pro, HLG|
|Wireless connectivity||802.11ac, Bluetooth 5|
|Panel type & backlight||4K IPS (60Hz), LED-backlit|
|HDMI inputs||3 x HDMI (3 at rear)|
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LG UM7400 review: Price and competition
At this price, the LG finds itself going to toe to toe with a vast number of affordably-priced TVs from a range of brands. One of its key rivals is Samsung, and the brand’s RU7400 is currently sitting in our test lab. It’s around £100 more expensive if you compare the current street prices. Our full review will be coming soon, but if you can live with the narrower viewing angles then the punchier picture is worth the extra.
Tempted to spend a little more? The Panasonic GX800 is our favourite TV in the sub-£1,000 segment. It’s still some way behind pricier sets, but the fact that it manages to produce vibrant, accurate colours and a watchable HDR performance for sensible money is something to celebrate. It is a quite a step up in price – the 40-inch is £499, the 50-inch model is £599, the 58in model is £699 – but it’s a serious step up in performance over cheaper sets such as the LG UM7400.
LG UM7400 review: Design, build and features
You can’t expect much in the way of design flourishes or premium materials at this sort of price/size ratio, and sure enough the LG doesn’t deliver any. The 49UM7400 supports its relatively chunky chassis and bezel on a plastic crescent-shaped stand. Annoyingly, the stand itself proves relatively difficult to attach thanks to some less than enthusiastic screws.
All the connections are at the left rear of the display, and these include three full-bandwidth HDMI 2.0b ports and an optical S/P-DIF ourput for jetting audio into an AV receiver or soundbar.
The WebOS smart TV platform here is very similar to that found on LG’s (very well-regarded and quite a bit more expensive) OLED screens – and Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video and Freeview Play (including BBC iPlayer) are all available here with HDR support. The user interface can get laggy on occasion, though, which is annoying.
It’s also worth mentioning that, rather than the Magic Pointer remote control supplied with the OLEDs, the remote control here is as prosaic and functional as the TV it accompanies, and is nothing like as intuitive as a consequence. It does at least have Netflix and Prime Video direct-access buttons, though.
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LG UM7400 review: Performance
As it’s imperative to keep the price down, the LG uses an IPS LCD panel, and as a consequence has shallower black tones than the alternative VA panel. Blacks are greyish and milky rather than deep and inky, and the picture is inevitably robbed of depth. The global rather than local, dimming contributes to this too – though the LG’s low-end gamma response helps to resolve some shadow detail that otherwise might end up disappearing.
Fresh from the box, even the most accurate picture preset has an undeniable green tint. It can be dialled out, but in all honesty no one’s expecting the owner of a new 49UM7400 to pay to have it calibrated. Colours can be adjusted for a more natural look, but it’s never truly accurate because of the screen’s RGBW subpixel configuration.
Screen uniformity, though, is very good by prevailing standards. There’s no banding, and only very minor Dirty Screen Effect – the right edge of the screen of our sample is very marginally darker than the left. Viewing angles are pretty darn good, too: the IPS panel has a slightly wider viewing angle than the equivalent VA panels on rival sets.
As this is a 60Hz panel, it can’t deploy motion interpolation to reduce motion blur – which can be mildly problematic. Select ‘Real Cinema’ from the picture mode menu, though, and 24fps movies are delivered smoothly with not a hint of judder.
As an upscaler, the 49UM7400 is good rather than great. Standard-definition content is prone to more noise and jagged edges than LG’s midrange televisions – which is likely another consequence of the RGBW subpixel configuration. RGBW is also the probable cause of a mild shimmering effect when the screen’s trying to resolve single-pixel lines on 4K resolution content, too. There’s a ‘Smooth Gradation’ preset in the user menus, but in all honesty its effect is minimal.
As far as HDR goes, there’s no Dolby Vision support – at this price that shouldn’t come as a shock. Peak brightness of 340cd/m2 means there’s a relative lack of HDR impact – the LG actually adheres to the HDR luminance standard pretty accurately, but only until 200cd/m2 or so. 4K-derived colours in particular look rather muted, though – the LG’s P3 colour gamut coverage is an unimpressive 82% – and while ‘Dynamic Tone Mapping’ helps retain specular highlight details, this is at the expense of overall brightness and some shadow detail. Nevertheless, at this price the UM7400 is a relatively accomplished HDR performer.
And as a gaming monitor, it’s a stellar performer. Select ‘Game’ from the picture modes and input lag for both 1080p SDR and 4K HDR content is a negligible 12ms. The LG supports ALLM (Auto Low-Latency Mode) too, so will automatically engage ‘Game’ mode when a compatible console such as the Xbox One X is fired up.
In terms of audio, the LG actually delivers unusually potent levels of both bass and volume. There’s barely a hint of stereo separation, however, and the resulting sound is both muddled and muddied.
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LG UM7400 review: Verdict
Some impressive technologies distinguish the LG 49UM7400 from quite a few competing budget sets, in particular the dynamic tone-mapping, super-low input lag and smooth 24fps reproduction despite the 60Hz panel. It’s all impressive stuff at the price. In ultimate terms, though, it’s let down somewhat by its poor-contrast IPS LCD panel – and that means it’ll have a tough time competing against the increasingly talented budget opposition.