LG 50PA4500 review: LG 50PA4500

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LG 42PA4500

(Part #: 42PA4500/US)
2.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The LG PA4500 plasma TV is a budget model that provides plenty of detail in shadows and punchy colors. Video processing is also a highlight. LG's design is understated yet not gaudy as some cheap TVs tend to be. It uses less power than 1080p resolution plasmas of this size.

The Bad The LG's picture quality is otherwise lackluster. Its black levels are fairly poor in comparison with the equivalently priced Samsung E450. The LG suffers from solarization that manifests as distinct bands in gradated colors. The screen is quite reflective and not suited to a bright room.

The Bottom Line The LG PA4500 is a decent budget TV in many respects but its competitors are able to deliver bigger picture quality for the buck.

5.9 Overall
  • Design 6.0
  • Features 5.0
  • Performance 5.0
  • Value 7.0

So you're looking for a cheap plasma TV? The LG PA4500 is about as budget as they get.

While not the worst TV in the budget plasma lineup we recently tested -- an honor that surprisingly went to Panasonic's X5 -- the TV was one of two LGs keeping the substitution benches warm. Picture quality is simply OK; while colors were vivid, they weren't true to the source and black levels were some of the poorest tested.

When judged against the Samsung E450 at the same price, it's no contest: the LG may be OK, but the Samsung is very good. Features are the same, design is fairly similar, yet they provide the most important differences. For nearly every budget plasma buyer who still cares about picture quality, it's worth going for the Samsung.

Series information: I performed a hands-on evaluation of the 42-inch LG 42PA4500, but this review also applies to the 50-inch size in the series. Both sizes have identical specs and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality.

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Both remote and TV are understated, designwise. Sarah Tew/CNET

The LG PA4500 may be a budget TV, but that doesn't mean it has to look dreadful. It's a piano-black oblong number that avoids the silver strips or other obnoxiousness that cheap TVs tend to flaunt. LG draws attention to the TV's frame in its promotional materials, giving it the name Truslim, but the bezel is basically the same width as all of its competitors'.

Where the TV does stand out is in the quality of its stand. LG is one of the only companies that makes swivel stands for budget TVs. The stand is not too bad-looking, either, with a U-shaped sci-fi look that's more "James Cameron prop design" and less "Sarlacc tentacles," as is the case for some Samsungs.

I found the remote compact and easy to use, though it tends toward a lot of green and so looks a bit more sickly than some of the brighter-colored LG remotes.

Models in series ( details )
LG 42PA4500 (reviewed) 42 inches
LG 50PA4500 50 inches
Key TV features
Display technology Plasma LED backlight N/A
Screen finish Glossy Remote Standard
Smart TV No Internet connection N/A
3D technology N/A 3D glasses included No
Refresh rate(s) 60Hz Dejudder (smooth) processing No

If you're the type who flips straight to the Features section of the brochure, there's a very good chance this TV wasn't designed for you. As with the other entry-level plasmas I tested, there's very little beyond picture specs to talk about. For instance, it doesn't have any connected features like Smart TV or apps, but it does offer movie, photo, and music playback via the USB port.

This is a 720p television TV, which means a picture measuring just 1,024x768 pixels. This pixel count is common for entry-level plasmas, and naturally the TV has an onboard scaler that processes any input up to 1080p to the screen's native resolution. The TV, like most plasmas these days, features 600Hz subfield driving, which refers to the rate at which the TV sends the picture to the screen, and not actually related to 120Hz-type engines found on LCD TVs.

Picture settings:This entry-level set includes ISF presets and 20-point grayscale adjustments -- a level of color calibration control no other TV at this level offers. Sometimes these controls don't always work as we expect, but in this case they did, and I give the company props for offering something the competitors don't. The PA4500 also comes with a power-saving mode, but given how effective I found its power usage in its calibrated fashion, we don't recommend using it, especially since it caps light output.

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The TV features two HDMI ports and two component inputs. Sarah Tew/CNET

Connectivity: The "highlights" of the LG's connection options are the two HDMI ports, one mounted on the side and one on the rear. Otherwise you get two component inputs, a composite connector, a single USB, and a PC connection.

Picture quality
The LG PA4500's greatest achievement in terms of picture quality is color saturation; it's able to get rich colors out of source material and provide plenty of punch. Shadow detail is also a strength, providing a 3D-like depth to images.

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