Last Updated: June 24, 2013
2010 LG Plasma TV Sets
Product Review Part 2: Lineup Overview
A small lineup of interesting HDTVs
LG plasma HDTV line for 2010 is the smallest lineup among TV makers irrespective of display technology. Yet it is also one of the most interesting HDTV lineups for 2010, offering most valid TV options - from inexpensive entry-level HDTVs to the feature-backed yet attractively priced PK950 flagship plasma TV series.
In this second part of our LG plasma TV review, we continue by discussing the different series to see what's on offer from this TV maker - analyzing features and performance to get a better understanding of why these HDTVs are earning among the best customer ratings on major retail sites.
Discovering the new LG Plasma TVs... Series by Series
As indicated in the first part of this review, for 2010 LG is presenting four series, two entry-level series, the PJ350 and the PK550, and two premium series, the PK750 and the PK950. The latter two forms part of LG's Infinia line, characterized by more refined styling and improved features.
As is typical of LG, all series come with extensive features. This applies even to entry-level HDTVs, with features that most often are reserved to higher end series by other TV brands. The reality is that LG plasma TVs offer some of the best value HDTVs thanks to their extensive features, good picture performance, and appealing price. It is no surprise that almost all LG plasma TVs are earning among the best customer reviews - in particular with respect to customer satisfaction.
These represent LG's entry-level series. The only real feature difference between these two series is a matter of screen resolution, with the PJ350 being 720p HDTVs while the PK550 is the 1080p series. The PJ350 comprises the 42-inch 42PJ350 ($525) and the 50-inch 50PJ350 ($600) HDTVs. Instead, the PK550 comprises the 50-inch 50PK550 ($810) and a larger 60-inch 60PK550 ($1460.) Unlike Panasonic entry-level series, which are literally bare-bones models, these entry-level LG plasma TVs come with a feature set that is significantly superior, one that is not normally associated with entry-level HDTVs.
As indicated earlier on, all LG plasma TVs for 2010 - including these entry level series come with LG's redesigned TruSlim 0.9-inch bezel and the thinner 2.2-inch panel.
Other core features found on entry-level LG HDTVs include:
1] LG's Picture Wizard II technology, which provides on-screen reference points for key picture quality elements, such as black level, color, tint, sharpness and backlight levels. It is like having a built-in calibration DVD.
2] ISFccc Calibration option to enable professional calibration technicians to calibrate these LG HDTVs for the best picture quality in the home theater environment under different ambient light conditions.
LG 1080p entry-level
3] An 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. Apart from delivering a more suitable picture for your ambient conditions, this can also help save energy output when viewing under low ambient light conditions.
4] Smart Energy saving options for improved energy efficiency; options covered include the ability to choose content-specific setting, or engaging the 'intelligent sensor' to automatically dim the backlight in line with the ambient light. There is also a 'video mute' option that switches off the picture while continuing with the sound - like when leaving the room for some time with the TV still on; this drastically reduces power consumption.
LG does not indicate if these plasma TVs qualify for the latest Energy Star 4.0. In this respect, plasma TV reviews published on various sites show that while power consumption on the latest LG plasma TVs is within the average for the latest plasma TVs, yet these LG HDTVs are among the least energy efficient plasma TVs for 2010.
5] Audio comes at 10W RMS per channel and includes LG's 'Infinite Sound' for simulated surround sound via the set two-way four speaker system. LG also equipped these HDTVs with its Clear Voice II feature to help differentiate the human sound range from others, thus improving the audibility of the human voice.
However, irrespective of the many nice audio features, we still say that like the majority of flat panel TVs today, these LG plasma TVs still require an external sound system if you want to enjoy the best sound. Sound is good at low volumes but once you move the volume slider half way, sound clarity suffers.
Other features include LG's 24p Real Cinema for the correct processing of 1080p/24 content using a 72Hz refresh rate (3:3 pulldown processing) - thus eliminating the hitching motion associated with the 2:3 pulldown processing otherwise necessary to display 24p film based content over the 60HZ TV refresh rate; LG's dual XD video engine for improved video processing; a most complete set of user-adjustable picture controls, one that is found only on the higher-end HDTVs from Samsung and Panasonic, and a most comprehensive connectivity suite complemented by 3 HDMI ver. 1.3 inputs, 1 USB2.0, and LG's SIMPLINK connectivity to control other compatible HDMI connected devices via the TV remote.
The only thing missing on LG's connectivity suite is an analog stereo output; this is not much of an issue for many but it restricts audio connectivity on these LG plasma TVs to your home theater system via the TV optical output. More of an issue instead is that as with the rest of LG's plasma TVs, all connections on the rear panel face straight towards the wall instead of facing down as adopted on the latest Samsung slim HDTVs. We find this design approach rather strange considering the effort invested by LG to come up with the slim 2-inch thin panel profile. Having connectors facing the wall may turn out to be problematic with slim wall installations.
Performance wise, the LG PJ350 and PK550 deliver a picture that is very much in line with similar entry-level series from other brands, with blacks that look very good. There real problem is a not so good dark shadow detail due to a somewhat inaccurate gamma. Color accuracy is also fine but then suffers in white and light areas due to what appears to be a color shift at varying brightness levels.
The bottom line: These LG plasma TVs are not the ones that deliver the best picture but these are among the best customer rated plasma TVs within the entry-level category - achieving 4.5 stars out of five in more than 60 customer reviews posted on the amazon site for both the PJ350 and the PK550 series. Definitely, this represents a major achievement for such inexpensive HDTVs.
We think this is more than understandable, after all these LG plasma TVs appeal to those who want to get the most out of their money. Main edge over the competition arises out of these LG TVs superior feature set and their sleek design for the price.
Competing models for LG's 720p plasma TVs include the Panasonic C2 and Samsung PNC450 plasma TVs; instead, with the 1080p LG PK550 series HDTVs, main competition is from Panasonic S2 and Samsung Series PNC550/PNC590 HDTVs.
Best selling LG plasma TV within this category of HDTVs is the 42-inch 42PJ350. However, equally popular are the 60-inch and 50-inch within the PK550 series, which again delivers more in terms of features for the price with respect to other 1080p cheap plasma TVs from both Samsung and Panasonic.
Further up the LG plasma TV line, one finds the Infinia plasma TVs; these comprise the PK750 LG HDTVs and LG's PK950 flagship plasma TVs.
Models covered by the PK750 include the 50-inch 50PK750 ($990), the 60-inch 60PK750 ($1,460.)
The flagship PK950 series covers similar screen sizes, namely the 50-inch 50PK950 ($1,430) and the 60-inch 60PK950 ($2,150.)
LG 50-inch 50PK750
As detailed in the first part of this LG plasma TV review article, LG Infinia HDTVs are characterized by LG's single layer of glass design that extends from edge-to-edge for a seamless look; this is further complemented by the slim profile.
Still, there are a few differences in the design between these two series. As expected, the PK950 series gets a more refined styling over the already pleasing design of the PK750. PK950 HDTVs come with a transparent vertical support stand, a complementing black glass base and a sleek transparent edge along the frame - sort of a similar arrangement to what we find on Samsung HDTVs.
From a features perspective, the PK750 Infinia series adds the upgraded LG NetCast Internet-enabled TV application which as noted earlier on, for 2010 adds access to Napster™ for on-demand streaming of music, and Roxio CinemaNow™ for access to pay-per-view movies from major studios.
Yet the most important upgrade - from a picture perspective over 2009 - is the new THX display certification, which thanks to the addition of a new THX picture mode designed for a bright room environment, has for the first time, made the THX picture mode more usable under what many consider to be the typical TV viewing environment. This is also the picture mode that delivers the best out-of-the-box picture setting - making the THX Bright Room mode on these LG plasma TVs the best way to enjoy a picture that is closest to what represents the perfect TV picture.
Other enhancement over the entry-level series include the addition of a fourth HDMI input, an Ethernet input for LG NetCast, Wi-Fi access via the optional LG’s AN-WF100 Wi-Fi USB adapter, and wireless media connectivity to reduce the cable clutter around your TV via the optional LG AN-WL100W Wireless Media Kit. In this respect, LG connectivity suite is one of the most complete. The only issues we have are basically the same as those highlighted for the cheaper series, namely the lack of an analog stereo output and the positioning of the AV connections facing the wall instead of angled at 90-degrees for a slimmer wall installation.
The main difference between the PK750 and the PK950 flagship series - apart from the more refined styling of the PK950 highlighted above - is the presence of LG TruBlack filter.
According to some plasma TV reviews, this provides a visible improvement in performance over that of the PK750 under bright room conditions by better preserving the blacks.
LG 60-inch 60PK950 Infinia line of flagship plasma TVs - the best-rated LG plasma TV ever
A second though less significant picture improvement over the PK750 is an improved mega-contrast ratio of 5,000,000:1 for the PK950 flagship series instead of the 3,000,000:1 of the less expensive lineup.
LG also adds its Magic Wand TV remote control to the PK950 series - identical to that found on LG's flagship LE9500 LED TVs - in addition to its traditional TV remote control; As indicated earlier on, the new remote provides for a Wii-like experience to control your TV.
From a performance perspective, PK950 series LG plasma TVs have been described by a Cnet review as a 'gem' offering a most extensive feature set, sleek slim styling complemented by LG's single-pane of glass design, and solid picture performance characterized by relatively deep blacks, accurate overall colors and relatively good shadow detail. These LG plasma TVs have also been awarded the Top Recommendation Award by FlatpanelsHD in their PK950 review for their overall solid picture and best overall value.
However, FlatpanelsHD complains of some image retention. Image retention with LG plasma TVs is nothing series in that it will normally clear up completely on its own after a few hours of use though you can always use the color or white wash functions under the ISM menu to help.
Image retention, or image sticking as is referred to by LG is not the same as burn in, and unlike burn in, it is totally reversible. Yet it is worth mentioning that you can do a lot to help protect your plasma TV investment by simply keeping the brightness and contrast levels down, especially during the first 200 hours of use. During this period, the fresh phosphors in plasma display panels burn more intensely as they are ignited; this makes plasma screens more prone to suffer both permanent burn-in and even more so temporary image retention. More on protecting your plasma TV investment is available on our site here.
Bottom line: Both LG's PK750 and the PK950 HDTVs deliver relatively solid picture performance complemented by numerous streaming and interactive features, and an attractive design. Yet it is the PK950 that is the best HDTV LG ever made, one that delivers significant improvement in black levels and overall picture performance compared to both 2009 LG HDTVs and the 2010 PK750 series.
Mind you, the PK950 does not set some new picture quality standard unattained by the competition. Yet these LG HDTVs are definitely capable of delivering a performance worthy of other premium plasma HDTVs from both Samsung and Panasonic, but at a more attractive price. LG price advantage becomes even more obvious with the 60-inch LG 60PK950 - which at $2,150, is the cheapest 60-inch plasma TV to include THX and Internet-enabled TV platform.
Main competition for LG's Infinia series is from Panasonic G25 and Samsung PNC6500 series. Bestselling LG plasma TVs within the Infinia series include the 50-inch 50PK750 - which at under $1,000 is one of the cheapest 50-inch premium TVs for 2010, and the 60-inch 60PK950 - which represents a most appealing mix of features and excellent picture performance at a most attractive price.
For more information on the LG PK950 Infinia series, please refer to our detailed LG PK950 plasma TV review article.