LG 50PZ950 - 50 Class ( 49.9 viewable ) plasma TV review:

LG 50PZ950 - 50 Class ( 49.9 viewable ) plasma TV

We appreciated that four modes' worth of adjustable picture controls, including simulated 3D options, were available for the major services we tested (Netflix, Vudu, and Amazon--the last sans 3D). The Expert modes were not, however.

LG's picture settings selection is extensive; maybe too extensive in the case of its 20-point grayscale option.

HDMI inputs 4 side Component video inputs 2 back
Composite video input(s) 1 back, 1 side VGA-style PC input(s) 1
USB port 2 side Ethernet (LAN) port Yes
Other: RS-232 port

Unlike the slim Samsung and Panasonic plasmas, the LG has a set of honest-to-goodness multicolored RCA jacks that don't require breakout cables. Users of the Wi-Fi dongle might want a third USB port, but we doubt it. The RS-232 is available for connection to custom installation systems like Crestron or AMX.

Honest-to-goodness colored analog jacks abound on the back panel--not breakout cables required.

With its light black levels, the PZ950 series is the only plasma TV we've tested this year that didn't score an 8 or higher in this category. That said, it's still a very good performer, with excellent color, the ability to handle 1080p/24, and all of the usual uniformity advantages over LCD.

Prior to any adjustment THX Cinema proved the most accurate setting on the PX950, although it still suffered from a minus-green grayscale. As with previous LG plasmas, grayscale calibration was frustrating due to variation from measurement to measurement, interactivity between controls and mislabeled settings. While we were able to dial in some improvements over THX, we couldn't achieve the kind of accuracy and consistency we've seen on other sets with multipoint controls, such as LG's LCDs and Samsung's plasmas. LG's CMS was also inferior to Samsung's, limiting the amount of improvement we could render to color points and saturation (especially blue).

For our image quality tests we enlisted "Unknown" on Blu-ray using the TVs below. Note that our 2011 comparison plasmas have been aged as part of CNET's long-term testing; we'll be performing the same aging on the LG PZ950, but in the meantime it's worth noting that our review sample had logged 230 hours at the time of review and calibration.

Comparison models (details)
LG 50PX950 50-inch plasma
Panasonic TC-P50ST30 50 inch plasma (2,077 hours)
Samsung PN59D7000 59-inch plasma (888 hours)
Panasonic TC-P55VT30 55-inch plasma (1,497 hours)
LG 47LW5600 47-inch LED with edge-lit local dimming
Sony XBR-55HX929 55-inch LED with full-array local dimming
Pioneer PRO-111FD (reference) 50-inch plasma

Black level: The LG plasma showed the worst (lightest) shade of black among the TVs in our lineup aside from the PX950, which measured and appeared identical in terms of black level. We noticed the LG's more washed-out black most in areas like letterbox bars and dark scenes, such as the nighttime taxi in chapter 3 (23:18). The difference was quite obvious, even when looking at the next-lightest sets; the Samsung D7000 and LG LW5600 were both clearly superior in this department, and the others even more so. The LG plasmas lacked the crispness and pop of the other sets in mixed scenes, although as usual brighter scenes made the black-level and contrast differences less apparent.

Shadow detail was very good on the PZ950, with no loss of detail near black--something that can't be said of the D7000 or LW5600--as well as no excessive lightening, as we saw near-black on the VT30. The caveat is that shadows and dark areas on the LG plasma appeared lighter, and thus less realistic, compared with the other displays.

Color accuracy: Despite some flaws, the PZ950 performed very well in this category, outdoing both Panasonics with its post-calibration Expert settings, yet falling short of the Samsung. We saw evidence during a tight shot of January Jones' face in chapter 2, for example (19:10), where her face looked quite natural and very close to the D7000, the LW5600, the Sony and the Kuro, without the golden, slightly greenish tones of the VT30 or the less saturated look of the ST30. Colors did seem a bit more washed-out at times on the PZ950, however, as a result of its lighter black levels.

Near-black measured better on the PZ950 compared with the bluish tinge of the LEDs, although the LG plasmas' lighter black levels made discolorations in shadows and deeper black areas a bit more obvious than on the other plasmas. That said, the PZ950 still had one of the most neutral grayscales at low light levels in our lineup.

Video processing: The LG handled 1080p/24 sources well, delivering the proper film cadence according to our tests. We don't consider its somewhat lower motion resolution score an issue, since we didn't see any evidence of blurring during program material.

Like past LG plasmas, the PZ950 did tend to retain afterimages more noticeably than the Samsung or the Panasonics in our lineup, but as usual they disappeared quickly and we don't consider burn-in any more of a problem on this plasma TV than others.

Bright lighting: Bright-room picture quality on the PZ950 was worse overall than on any of the other sets aside from the PZ950 from last year. The LGs didn't reduce the brightness of reflections nor preserve black levels as well as any of the others in our lineup.

3D: The PZ950 wasn't a bad 3D performer but fell short of the picture quality of all of the active models save the Sony LED and the PX950. We still preferred its image to the passive LW5600, mainly due to latter's jagged edge artifacts and somewhat softer picture.

We checked out "Tron: Legacy" for our 3D test and substituted the Samsung UN55D800 for the 2D-only Kuro. We didn't perform a 3D calibration, instead relying on the best picture preset (THX 3D Cinema).

Crosstalk was worse on the PZ950 than on any of the other 2011 sets, showing the telltale ghost image around difficult areas like the pattern on the floor of the dressing room in chapter 5 (28:25) and the stripes on Quorra's suit in chapter 9 (1:04:00). That said, the PZ950's crosstalk did not worsen as we moved off-angle, as it did on the LCD sets (especially the passive LW5600).

We also noticed something none of the other 3D TVs showed: a moiré effect where faint concentric rings of varying brightness and color appeared in the image as we moved off-angle. They stabilized, but remained visible, when we stopped moving, so we assume they're caused by some kind of interaction between the glasses and screen.

Comparing the THX settings of the VT30 and the PZ950 by eye, we definitely preferred the Panasonic. The LG's THX crushed black detail, and while it did show better black levels, the tradeoff wasn't worth it. Skin tones and colors on the two were similar, however. Of course we could adjust the Panasonic's THX setting but not the LG's, although the latter has picture settings in other modes (including full control of 3D via Expert) that should allow significant improvement over THX.

As expected, the LG PZ950 couldn't get nearly as bright as the LCDs with 3D material, especially the passive LW5600. This isn't an issue unless you have a very bright room, however; in most lighting situations the light output of plasmas like the PZ950 in 3D is sufficient.

Power consumption: Again as we'd expect, the PZ950 is no power miser, costing a few bucks more per year than 50-inch Panasonics, although it is significantly more efficient than last year's LG. The default Standard picture mode on the PZ950 measures relatively bright at about 40 Fl with the room lighting sensor off, which accounts for its higher power use than the default modes of the way-too-dim Panasonics.

Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.0219 Poor
Avg. gamma 2.1381 Good
Near-black x/y (5%) 0.3064/0.3156 Average
Dark gray x/y (20%) 0.3138/0.3321 Good
Bright gray x/y (70%) 0.3125/0.3296 Good
Before avg. color temp. 6625 Average
After avg. color temp. 6503 Good
Red lum. error (de94_L) 0.2121 Good
Green lum. error (de94_L) 1.9142 Average
Blue lum. error (de94_L) 0.7704 Good
Cyan hue x/y 0.2197/0.3213 Average
Magenta hue x/y 0.3236/0.1638 Average
Yellow hue x/y 0.4164/0.5039 Good
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Pass Good
1080i De-interlacing (film) Pass Good
Motion resolution (max) 600 Average
Motion resolution (dejudder off) 600 Average
PC input resolution (VGA) 1,920x1,080 Good

Juice box
LG 50PZ950 Picture settings
Default Calibrated Power save
Picture on (watts) 269.05 247.55 137.64
Picture on (watts/sq. inch) 0.25 0.23 0.13
Standby (watts) 0.06 0.06 0.06
Cost per year $59.03 $54.32 $30.22
Score (considering size) Poor
Score (overall) Poor

Annual power consumption cost after calibration

LG 50PZ950 CNET review calibration results

(Read more about how we test TVs.)

What you'll pay

    Visit manufacturer site for details.

    Editors' Top PicksSee All

    • Vizio P-Series (2016)

      Starting at: $998.00
      4.5 stars

      Vizio's P-Series TV includes a 6-inch Android tablet remote, but what makes it great is...

    • LG 55EG9100

      Starting at: $1,275.52
      4 stars

      The cheapest OLED TV is no bargain, but at less than $2,000 it's actually affordable for...

    • Vizio M series (2015)

      Starting at: $1,719.99
      4 stars

      The Vizio M series is one of the least-expensive TVs with 4K resolution, and it's also...

    • LG EF9500

      Starting at: $2,945.52
      4 stars

      LG's OLED TVs produce the best image quality you can buy today, and among all the OLEDs...


    Discuss: LG 50PZ950 INFINIA - 50" Class ( 49.9" viewable...

    Conversation powered by Livefyre