Connectivity is as strong as we expected on the LG 50PG60, and the star of the show is the quartet of HDMI inputs, three on the back and one on the side. Two component video jacks, a VGA-style PC input (1,920x1,080 maximum resolution), an AV input with S-Video and composite video, an RF input or antenna or cable, both optical and coaxial digital outputs, and an RS-232 port for custom installation round out the back panel. Another composite video input is stashed on the side panel, along with a USB port for digital photo display and MP3 playback from USB thumbdrives.
All told the LG 50PG60 produced a very good picture, but it wasn't quite up to the best plasmas we've tested. The THX mode resulted in relatively accurate color, although it could be improved especially in saturation and shadow detail. False contouring also showed up in some scenes.
As usual we adjusted the LG's picture as well as we could before beginning our evaluation. After our experience with the THX certified Panasonic TH-50PZ800U, we were a bit surprised when selecting THX mode on the LG didn't deliver quite as accurate a picture. Comparing between the two, the LG's color temperature was much bluer and its color decoding less accurate; red and green in particular were quite undersaturated compared with the Panasonic. Primary colors were very accurate, however. Since the LG's THX setting unfortunately doesn't allow any adjustment, we calibrated the TV as usual using the extensive settings available in Expert mode, which improved color decoding and grayscale at the expense of primary color accuracy; despite the LG's color management system, we couldn't tweak its primary and secondary colors to approach the accuracy of default THX (for what it's worth, the final grayscale was also less-accurate than what we achieved on LG's 47LG60, but still superb).
Comparing the THX mode to the post-calibration Expert setting, we decided we liked the picture produced by THX mode slightly better, mainly because of the primary color issues with Expert. So while we recommend setting it in THX mode, we'll still include our complete Expert mode settings for anybody who's curious.. For our comparison and imge quality tests we set the LG up next to a couple of other high-end plasmas, the THX certified Panasonic TH-50PZ800U and the Pioneer PDP-5080HD, along with a couple of newer, good-performing LCDs, the Samsung LN52A650 and the Sony KDL-46W4100. This time around we checked out Pan's Labyrinth on Blu-ray played via our PlayStation 3.
Black level: Compared with the Panasonic and the Pioneer, both paragons of deep black, the LG couldn't come as close to true black in dark scenes. When Ophelia visits her mother's bedroom, for example, the darkened walls behind the headboard and the shadow-obscured blanket looked noticeably darker on the other plasmas, although the LG did out-black the two LCDs by a hair.
Shadow detail, such as the folds of the pillows and the edge of the mother's face, also appeared less distinct on the LG than on the Panasonic, even though both were in THX mode. In general this issue lent many scenes a slightly less natural, darker look where clear details were occasionally obscured, and lack of shadow detail is one of our biggest issues with the LG's THX setting.
Color accuracy: The LG exhibited excellent primary colors in THX mode, balanced by a somewhat bluish overall color temperature and less accurate color decoding. These issues appeared, for example, in the slightly bluer tinge to the blank page of Ophelia's book, and when the bloodstains appear across it they looked less saturated and bloody than on the other displays. Her pale face looked a bit too ruddy somehow, and we noticed a slight greenish tint compared to the rosy blush on the other displays. The grass outside the compound was again less-saturated and punchy than we'd like to see, although the tint of green looked natural enough.
Video processing: The LG showed no problems here, displaying every line of 1,080 resolution sources and providing as sharp an image as we expected. Of course, compared with the 1,366x768 Pioneer, the 1080p LG didn't look any more detailed, but that's par for the 1080p course. The 50PG60 properly deinterlaced film-based 1080i material, unlike many sets we've tested.
Uniformity: Like most plasmas, the LG exhibited excellent uniformity across its screen surface and excellent viewing angles. Unfortunately it introduced more false contouring than we expected in a high-end plasma. Along the edge of Ophelia's darkened cheek, for example, we could occasionally see a distinct edge of color where there should be just a smooth transition from one color to the next. Contouring also showed up elsewhere, such as in the subtle color transition across the blank page and the edges of shadows in the back of the room.
Bright lighting: The LG performed about as well as the Panasonic at attenuating ambient light reflecting off the screen, which is to say a bit above average for a plasma, but not as good as the Pioneer or, of course, the matte-screen Sony LCD.
Standard-definition: With standard-definition sources, the LG turned in an average showing, delivering every detail of the DVD format and providing a relatively sharp rendition of the stone bridge and grass from our HQV test disc. It removed jaggies from moving diagonal lines to a large extent, but didn't eliminate them completely. The noise reduction did a fine job of squelching the moving motes and video "snow" in low-quality shots of flowers and skies, for example, and we could see a good progression from Low to High in the NR setting. Finally, 2:3 pull-down kicked in quickly and effectively.
PC: Via a digital HDMI connection PC performance was as perfect as any 1080p TV we've seen, with every detail resolved, no edge enhancement or overscan. Via the VGA input the story was similar, and while we did detect slight edge enhancement around text and some interference in the highest-resolution areas, the LG's analog PC picture was still very good.
|Before color temp (20/80)||6806/6812||Average|
|After color temp||6475/6518||Good|
|Before grayscale variation||+/- 480||Average|
|After grayscale variation||+/- 85||Good|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.644/0.33||Good|
|Color of green||0.306/0.607||Good|
|Color of blue||0.148/0.063||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Y||Good|
|480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps||Y||Good|
|1080i video resolution||Pass||Good|
|1080i film resolution||Pass||Good|
|LG 50PG60||Picture settings|
|Picture on (watts)||401.02||329.92||244.56|
|Picture on (watts/sq. inch)||0.38||0.31||0.23|
|Cost per year||$124.77||$102.76||$76.34|
|Score (considering size)||Poor|
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