When we reviewed LG's former flagship plasma in July, the PK950 series, we called it the best the company had ever produced and a worthy contender to Panasonic and Samsung. Its new boss at the top of LG's totem pole, the PX950, is basically the same TV plus 3D. LG differentiates the PX from the 3D competition by endowing it with the first THX Display certification for 3D sources, and THX assured us that said certification process is no walk in the park. The end result, according to our subjective comparison, is very good 3D picture quality indeed, albeit not significantly better than other makers' top 3D plasma TVs. Add to that the PX950's laudable 2D performance, as well as LG's sleek external styling, and you have one of the most appealing HDTVs available yet.
Series information: We performed a hands-on evaluation of the 50-inch LG 50PX950, but this review also applies to the 60-inch version. All sizes have identical specs and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality.
|Panel depth||2.1 inches||Bezel width||1.5 inches|
|Single-plane face||Yes||Swivel stand||Yes|
|Other: Transparent edge and stand stalk|
LG is the only current plasma maker to offer the sleekness of a single-pane face--where the picture and the frame are both fronted by the same pane of glass--and the PX950 looks almost exactly like the PK950 from the outside. There's a transparent stand stalk and transparent edges (both originated by Samsung, but who's counting?), as well a glass-topped stand base. Overall we like the PX950's looks a lot--although not quite as much as the matte finish of Samsung plasmas like the PNC7000.
For what it's worth, the depth of the LG falls in the middle between the Panasonic (3.5 inches) and slim Samsung (1.4 inches) models.
|Remote control and menus|
|Remote size (LxW)||9.2 x 1.8 inches||Remote screen||N/A|
|Total keys||45||Backlit keys||38|
|Other IR devices controlled||No||RF control of TV||No|
|Shortcut menu||Yes||Onscreen explanations||Yes|
|Other: Secondary motion-sensitive remote control|
One extra found in LG's flagship 2010 products like the PX950 is the "Magic Wand" remote, which behaves much like the Wiimote motion controller used on the Nintendo Wii. LG's little clicker fits well in the hand, and its few buttons are easy to find by feel, but you really only need two: Home and Select. The former calls up a simplified menu system and a big cursor control, and moving the remote itself to point the cursor activates menu items.
The accuracy of the pointer was very good--better in our experience than even the Wiimote itself--and the jumbo icons help a lot, although annoyingly the wand didn't operate within apps like Netflix or Yahoo widgets. But soon the novelty of the system wore off and we ended up preferring the standard menu system and multibutton remote, which required only thumb movement. We can imagine some users intimidated by lots of menu selections might appreciate the Magic Wand, but for most others it's just a gimmick.
LG's standard clicker is a long, thin (thoroughly unmagical) wand with decent button differentiation and friendly, rubberized keys. We liked the bulge in the middle that corresponds with a convenient notch on the underside for your index finger; we missed direct infrared control of other devices. The main menus are basic and functional with plenty of ways to get around, including a nice Quick Menu of shortcuts. We would have liked to see explanations, however, especially for the more advanced picture setting functions.
|Key TV features|
|Display technology||plasma||LED backlight||N/A|
|3D compatible||Yes||3D glasses included||No|
|Screen finish||Glass||Refresh rate(s)||60Hz, 96Hz|
|Dejudder (smooth) processing||No||1080p/24 compatible||Yes|
|Internet connection||Yes||Wireless HDMI/AV connection||Optional|
|Other: Optional 3D glasses (model LG-AS100; $169 list); TrueBlack filter; Optional Wi-Fi dongle (AN-WF100, $70); Optional wireless media box (AN-WL100W, $350)|
The main difference between the PK950, LG's former 2010 flagship plasma, and PX950 is the latter's ability to display 3D content. It doesn't come with the requisite 3D glasses, however, so you'll have to shell out extra for those. LG is the only maker we've tested so far whose proprietary glasses have rechargeable batteries--the USB charger is included. Unlike the company's LX9500 3D-compatible LCD, the PX950 does offer a 2D-to-3D conversion system and the aforementioned THX certification for both 2D and 3D.
Like the PK950, the screen of the PX includes a "TrueBlack" filter designed to improve image quality in brighter rooms, and the PX handled 1080p/24 sources properly. See Performance for details.
Other notables on the PX950 include the external "LG Wireless Media Box" option that enables you to connect HDMI and other gear wirelessly, which can really help custom installations. We'd like to see built-in Wi-Fi for the Internet features, but you'll have to either buy the dongle or get a third-party wireless bridge. We tested LG's dongle, which worked well, but we didn't test the media box by press time.
|Amazon Video on Demand||No||Rhapsody||No|
LG's 2009 models were among the first to include Netflix, but since that service is now available on most Internet TVs, the company's Netcast array of streaming partners is now pretty pedestrian. There are no major missing links, however, aside from any kind of audio service like Pandora or Slacker radio.
In our tests Vudu and Netflix performed as advertised, delivering the video quality we expect from both services via both Ethernet and Wi-Fi from LG's dongle. A solid selection of picture settings was available, but you don't get THX, Expert modes, or 2D-to-3D conversion options with the streaming video services. We didn't test DLNA or USB streaming.
|Other: 10 custom games, world clock, calendar; Skype requires speakerphone accessory (AN-VC100, $110)|
Most of the nonstreaming apps, with the exception of Picasa, a clock for time zones around the world, an onscreen calendar and a few games, come courtesy of Yahoo widgets. At the time of this writing the PX950 has access to eighteen widgets--but still no Facebook, which both Samsung and Vizio do have.
Yahoo's platform is more usable than last year on LG, albeit not as snappy as on the LX9500, with useable responses to button presses and faster load times for individual widgets. In comparison, however, the apps platforms of Samsung and Vizio still felt a good deal faster than LG's widgets, and content selection was wider on Samsung, Vizio and Sony.
LG's games platform, not to be confused with the games included with Yahoo widgets, includes extremely basic custom titles, for example Sudoku and Whack a Mole. Of course you'll need to buy the external speakerphone kit to use Skype. It (still) hasn't been released yet, so we didn't test it for this review.
|Adjustable picture modes||6||Independent memories per input||Yes|
|Dejudder presets||0||Fine dejudder control||N/A|
|Aspect ratio modes -- HD||6||Aspect ratio modes -- SD||5|
|Color temperature presets||3||Fine color temperature control||20 points|
|Gamma presets||3||Color management system||Yes|
|Other: Two THX modes for 2D and one for 3D; 2-point and 20-point IRE systems available; Auto Power Save mode; guided "Picture Wizard" setup tool|
With the addition of its nonadjustable "THX 3D Cinema" mode, as well as the ability to adjust four other picture modes while in 3D, the PX950 trounces the completely nonadjustable 3D of LG LX9500. Those four modes don't offer any of the 3D-specific tweaks of Samsung, but at least you can adjust basic picture settings like contrast, brightness and color.
With 2D sources LG is among the best on the market for sheer numbers of adjustable parameters. The TV's two Expert modes allow fine adjustment of 20 points of white balance, which seems like overkill compared to the 10-point system on the LG LH8500 series or Samsung's high-end 2010 sets, and didn't work well in our testing. Fortunately, the TV also offers LG's usual suite of other advanced adjustments, including a standard 2-point system.
Plenty of presets are provided for those who'd rather not futz with settings. The two THX modes for 2D, one for bright and one for dim environments, are not user adjustable (Panasonic's single THX mode is), and there's a new Auto Power Saver Mode, again nonadjustable, that depends on room lighting to do its job. LG's Picture Wizard is on-hand to guide novices through basic settings.