Last Updated: June 24, 2013
2011 LG Plasma HDTV Lineup - Review
A most valid HDTV option often overlooked by many
But what about LG's TV picture performance...
Is it worth that of a leader in the field?
For 2011, LG is presenting twelve different plasma TV models—ranging from 42-inch entry-level HDTVs to premium 60-inch plasma TVs. It is the smallest plasma TV lineup for 2011, but it still represents serious competition to both Samsung and Panasonic.
Unfortunately, many who appreciate the benefits of plasma over LCD and LED TVs, often ignore LG and instead focus on the other two leaders in the field. Those doing so are missing on a number of extremely valid HDTV options and some of the best plasma HDTV deals.
The reason behind this approach is that LG plasma HDTVs generally do not deliver the same deep blacks as the competition. At least this was the case up to 2010 when LG managed to come with a flagship HDTV whose deep blacks did provide a match to Samsung and Panasonic HDTVs; this was the PK950—dubbed by many as the best HDTV LG every made.
The issue is: What about the latest 2011 LG plasma HDTVs? Do these continue to build on the improvements we have seen in 2010? Discover more in this LG plasma HDTV review article.
LG Plasma TVs... An interesting mix of features, innovation, and value
LG Electronics is one of the world's largest consumer electronics manufacturers. It is also the TV maker that during these last few years kept gaining a constant market share in plasma and LED/LCD HDTV sales —at the expense of the other market leaders in the field. This is all thanks to LG's innovative design concepts and best-value HDTV deals.
As with Samsung, LG's main HDTV concern is the LCD/LED TV market. Suffice to note that while for this year LG is presenting twenty-three LCD and LED TV different models, the 2011 LG plasma HDTV lineup consists of just twelve models.
Yet, these still constitute among the most valid and affordable HDTV options for home entertainment. Plasma TV reviews published over past years have shown that LG plasma HDTVs have always delivered solid overall value especially at the premium-end category. You see, LG's real strength in the TV industry arises out of its ability to deliver feature-packed HDTVs at a price the competition would often find it hard to beat.
This applies irrespective of whether it is a 720p cheap plasma TV such as the 42-inch 42PT350which at $500 gives you more screen for less, or a premium LG plasma HDTV such as the 60-inch 60PZ750; at $1,600, this LG is the cheapest premium 60-inch 3D TV presently available on the market. It does not exactly match the same deep blacks of the Samsung PND7000 or the Panasonic GT30, but thanks to its massive screen, this affordable LG plasma HDTV delivers one of the best immersive 3D-in-the-home experiences.
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As already indicated earlier on, for 2011 we have 12 LG plasma TV sets spread over six different series, from 42-inch entry-level cheap plasma TVs to the most advanced 60-inch premium televisions. LG's main edge over the competition has always been a cheaper price than the competition for HDTVs that often come with a superior feature set.
One interesting change in LG's approach over 2010 is that for 2011 LG has decided to include 3D on most of its plasma TVs, and this at hardly any increase in price over corresponding 2010 LG plasma HDTVs. In 2010, LG missed the 3D bandwagon completely with its plasma TV lineup.
At the lower end of the line, one finds the PT350 and the PW350 720p LG plasma HDTVs, and the PV450 series of 1080p HDTVs. The two 720p HDTV series come in 42- and 50-inch versions while the 1080p series HDTVs come in 50-and 60-inch versions.
Despite being entry-level models, these LG plasma TV series are far from bare-bone sets. They are characterized by a relatively stylish design complemented by LG's TruSlim frame—a slim 1.2-inch wide bezel. In addition, common features include:
LG Intelligent sensor that automatically calibrates and optimizes brightness, contrast, white balance and color, based on the brightness and color temperature of lighting in the room,
Picture Wizard II for easy self-calibration by providing on-screen reference points for key picture quality elements,
Smart energy saving features, and
ISFccc Calibration—thus allowing professional calibration to set 'day' and 'night' levels for optimal viewing and brightness levels.
These LG plasma HDTVs also feature adequate connectivity complemented by 3 HDMI inputs and one USB2.0 port.
The only difference between the PT350 720p HDTVs and the PV450 1080p HDTVs is picture resolution, while the PW350 720p series adds 3D TV and 2D-to-3D conversion to the less expensive PT350 series.
Best-selling models within the LG cheap plasma TV category include the 42-inch 42PT350 720p HDTV and the 60-inch 60PV450 1080p LG plasma HDTV, which at $480 and $1300 are among the cheapest HDTVs for 2011 within their respective screen size.
Moving up the LG plasma HDTV lineup, one finds the PZ550 series. As with all 1080p LG plasma HDTVs, this series comes in 50-inch and 60-inch screen sizes and includes LG's TruSlim 1.2-inch thin bezel for an overall pleasing design.
Step-up features over the PV450 1080p HDTV series include:
3D support complemented by on-the-fly 2D-to-3D conversion,
DLNA for streaming of multimedia content stored on your networked PCs, and
LG NetCast Internet@TV platform.
NetCast is the same Internet TV platform we saw on premium and flagship LG HDTVs during 2010. It is not the same Smart TV feature found on premium and flagship 2011 HDTVs but it still gives you a very good choice of Internet-driven TV entertainment content.
Finally, as with premium and flagship series, the PZ550 series is Wi-Fi ready; this means that all it takes to access your broadband Internet connection is the optional AN-WF100 LG Wi-Fi USB dongle.
Jumping onto the PZ550 would cost an average of $150 over the less expensive PV450 1080p LG plasma HDTVs.
It is worth taking note the PZ550 series is capable of practically the same picture quality performance of the more expensive PZ750 LG plasma HDTVs. It is true that the PZ550 lacks the THX picture mode found on PZ750 HDTVs, but THX is a pre-set picture mode. In other words, you can still enjoy the same picture quality on the PZ750 by properly dialing in the appropriate picture settings on these HDTVs.
The PZ550 is not among the most popular LG plasma HDTV series, mainly because at the 60-inch category, all it takes to jump onto the cheaper of LG's Infinia plasma TV series is less than a $100. And for the extra $100, you will get an enhanced feature set and more attractive styling.
At the 50-inch screen size, the price difference between the PZ550 and the PZ750 is significantly more pronounced, reaching $300 with present online prices. This pricing strategy makes the 50-inch 50PZ550 LG plasma HDTV one of the best HDTV options for those looking for a midrange HDTV under the $900 capable of solid picture performance and Internet TV functionality.
60-inch 3D 60PZ750
The LG Infinia Plasma Lineup comprises the PZ750 and the PZ950 series.
It is at this higher-end category that LG HDTVs used to enjoy a definite price advantage up to the recent past. This is no longer the case, especially when taking into account the present online prices on Samsung PND8000 series plasma HDTVs. The latter is being rated as the best HDTV for 2011 irrespective of display technology.
Nevertheless, the Infinia series of LG plasma TVs have a lot to offer. You get more refined styling complemented by LG's single-pane-of-glass design, an inch-thin frame, and a panel depth of less than 2-inch. Equally important, these LG HDTVs are capable of a solid picture characterized by deep blacks and accurate overall colors.
These plasma TVs lack the exceptionally deep blacks of the Samsung and Panasonic premium and flagship series. But the picture performance of these LG Infinia plasma HDTVs is still worthy of a flagship model from the leaders in the industry.
Infinia also adds the latest LG Smart TV platform with the innovative Magic Motion remote - one of the best Smart TV control implementations for 2011. Finally, Infinia LG plasma HDTVs come with two pre-set THX picture settings, THX Cinema and THX Bright Room mode; the latter was first introduced in 2010.
LG Infinia 60PZ950 60-Inch 1080p 3D Plasma HDTV with Smart TV
The PZ950 LG plasma TV lacks the same deep blacks of the competition, but then it is much cheaper and is still a solid overall performer with a great 2D and 3D picture.
Add LG Smart TV and there you have one of the best HDTV options for the living room. It brings you affordable access to the unlimited world of connected TV entertainment in an easy and fun way, thanks to a customizable dashboard and an innovative motion-sensing remote.
The main difference between the two series is the presence of LG TruBlack filter; this again was originally introduced in 2010. According to a Cnet review appearing in 2010 for the 60PK950 LG plasma HDTV, LG's TruBlack filter is capable of a visible improvement in preserving the blacks under bright room conditions.
But in a recent plasma TV review of the PZ950 published on FlatpanelsHD, Rasmus Larsen says that the new LG flagship has a somewhat weaker black level than the 2010 flagship series. Larsen adds however that the LG is still a very good performer, with very good picture quality both in 2D and in 3D.
These LG plasma TVs also support excellent shadow detail, exhibits less plasma noise in dark areas than the Panasonic VT series—thus making the LG ideal for close viewing applications, and supports a TV picture that is brighter even in 3D.
A brighter image is especially important when viewing of 3D content under bright room conditions as the use of 3D glasses would lower the effective 3D image brightness as perceived by the viewer.
Best-selling models from within the 2011 premium and flagship LG plasma HDTV series include the 60-inch 3D 60PZ750 and the 60-inch LG 60PZ950. As already indicated above, the PZ950 flagship series faces tough competition from Samsung; this is not the case with the LG 60PZ750, which at under $1,600 is cheaper than either the 59-inch Samsung D7000 and 60-inch Panasonic GT30 plasma TVs.