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.
Editors' Note: The two 50PX950 review samples we received from LG suffered from a picture setting-related bug. LG has since issued a firmware update that, according to our testing, fixes the issue. The company says that any PX950 owner who connects the TV to the Internet will receive an automatic notification to update the firmware, which is available as a free download.
|Power saver mode||Yes||Ambient light sensor||Yes|
|Picture-in-picture||No||Onscreen user manual||Yes|
|Other: Three "ISM" modes to combat burn-in|
In addition to the Auto Power Saver picture mode, you can apply one of three Energy Saving settings (each limits maximum light output) or an ambient light sensor to any non-THX picture mode. You can also choose a "screen off" option in the TV's energy saver menu to just get sound, reducing consumption to about 24 watts. LG calls its onscreen manual "simple" and that's definitely the case--it's more like a rundown of features than a usable manual.
Like most plasmas the PX950 offers three ways to fight burn-in, including white and color washes and a pixel orbiter, which shifts the whole image around on the screen. Since temporary image retention seems more common on this set than with other brands' plasmas, we welcome the washes in particular.
|HDMI inputs||3 back, 1 side||Component video inputs||2 back|
|Composite video input(s)||1 back, 1 side||S-video input(s)||0|
|VGA-style PC input(s)||1||RF input(s)||1|
|AV output(s)||0||Digital audio output||1 optical|
|USB port||2 side||Ethernet (LAN) port||Yes|
|Other: Service-only RS-232 port; proprietary "wireless control" port for media box|
There's nothing special here aside from the proprietary, optional wireless connection (see Key Features above), and no major missing links unless you're partial to S-Video. The second USB port is nice if you monopolize the first with the optional Wi-Fi dongle.
The excellent overall picture quality of the LG PX950 wasn't a big surprise given the similarly impressive 2D-only 50PK950. While neither could match the deep blacks of Panasonic's plasmas, they came quite close to Samsung and delivered LG's customary accurate color. Both also handled 1080p/24 sources properly, and as usual for a plasma, it also showed nearly perfect off-angle viewing and screen uniformity. Finally 3D on the PX950 was very good, and in some ways better than the Panasonic VT25.
Prior to any adjustment THX Cinema proved the most accurate setting on the PX950, although it still suffered from a too-blue grayscale and worse gamma (2.29) than we'd like to see, in addition to being relatively dim at 28 footlamberts (ftl). As with previous LG plasmas calibration was an adventure due to the numerous settings, the fact that color didn't remain consistent from measurement to measurement, especially in bright areas, and the interactivity between controls. While we were able to dial in significant improvements compared to THX, we couldn't achieve the kind of accuracy we've seen on other sets with multipoint controls, such as LG's LCDs, for example. We ended up with a 2.15 average gamma at our preferred 40 ftl, and grayscale variation, while more linear than before, was still worse than we expected. More tweaking could probably have improved the calibration even more, but didn't seem worth it.
Our Image quality tests for 2D were conducted with the help of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" on Blu-ray.
|Comparison models (details)|
|LG 50PK950||50-inch plasma|
|Panasonic TC-P50VT25||50-inch plasma|
|Panasonic TC-P50GT25||50-inch plasma|
|Samsung PN50C7000||50-inch plasma|
|LG 47LX9500||47-inch full-array local dimming LED|
|Sony XBR-52HX909||52-inch full-array local dimming LED|
|Pioneer PRO-111FD (reference)||50-inch plasma|
Black level: The PX950 delivered essentially the same depth of black as the PK950, which was good but not up to the standards of the other flagship TVs in our lineup--although the difference between the LGs and the Samsung C7000 was slight, and would only be visible in a side-by-side comparison in a dark room. In dark scenes, such as when Dumbledore and Harry explore the mansion in Chapter 2, black areas like the letterbox bars, the deep shadows and foreground silhouettes looked lighter and less realistic on the LG than the others, robbing the scenes of some impact.
Details in the shadows, such as the keys of a shaded piano at the 6:26 mark, were relatively good albeit a bit lighter than on our reference and some of the others, but better than the local dimming LED sets.
Color accuracy: The LG PX950 came quite close to our reference in this category, delivering natural-looking skin tones in areas like the brightly lit cafeteria in Chapter 7 or the press of faces in the hallway at the beginning of Chapter 8, as well as darker scenes such as earlier in Chapter 7, when Harry passes through the gate. Primary and secondary color accuracy and balance were also good, although blue was oversaturated a bit, which affected the look of areas like the grass in the Quiddich field in Chapter 10, for example, but the issue wasn't drastic. We also appreciated that near-black areas and shadows remained relatively true and not shaded with another color, such as the blue seen on the PK950.
Video processing: Unlike the PK750 we tested earlier, the PX950 consistently handled 1080p/24 correctly, delivering the true cadence of film on so-enabled Blu-ray sources. We saw the effect on our favorite 1080p/24 test, the helicopter flyover from "I Am Legend," where the PX950 outdid most of the other sets in our lineup as well by reproducing the camera movement smoothly (yet not too smoothly), without the subtle hitching motion characterized by 2:3 pull-down.
According to our motion resolution test, the LG PX950 delivered the same result as the PK750: between 700 and 800 lines. That performance doesn't match the best plasmas or 240Hz LCDs we've tested, although it is better than typical 120Hz LCDs. As usual, we don't expect many viewers to notice, or even be able to see, the difference.
Like other 2010 LG plasmas, the PX950 showed some softness and ringing artifacts in finely detailed areas of test patterns, although they were too subtle for us to see in most normal program material. Renaming the input "PC" and using a 1080p/60 source (1080i or 1080p/24 still showed the artifacts) removes the artifacts, but that's the only way we know of. Because 1080p/60 is less common than the other two resolutions, we didn't test the TV extensively in this mode, and our picture settings above were not created in it.
Bright lighting: The TruBlack filter of the PX950 beat the LG LCD and the Panasonic and Samsung plasmas at preserving black levels in brighter rooms, essentially tied the Pioneer but fell short of the Sony LCD. The filter didn't have as visible an impact on the other important bright room performance characteristic, namely the reduction of the brightness of reflections like in-room lights, windows reflected from the screen and even a viewer's white shirt. All of the non-LG plasmas reduced reflection intensity better than the PX950, although it still beat the LG LCD.
Standard definition: The LG performed OK with standard-definition sources, doing better than the Panasonics did in our test but not as well as the Samsung PNC7000. It delivered every line of the DVD format and details appeared relatively sharp. Jaggies were present in some moving lines. Noise reduction performed well to clean up lower-quality sources, and 2:3 pull-down kicked in quickly and accurately.
PC: Via VGA-style PC the LG performed relatively well, resolving every line of a 1,920x1,080-pixel pattern, although it was difficult to remove edge enhancement without softening the image too much. Via HDMI PC performance was perfect, as expected.
|Before color temp (20/80)||6378/7138||Average|
|After color temp||6448/6471||Good|
|Before grayscale variation||n/a||Good|
|After grayscale variation||n/a||Good|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.643/0.333||Good|
|Color of green||0.294/0.597||Good|
|Color of blue||0.151/0.077||Average|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Y||Good|
|480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps||Pass||Good|
|1080i video resolution||Pass||Good|
|1080i film resolution||Pass||Good|
Power consumption: We did not test the power consumption of the 60-inch LG 60PX950 series, but we did test the 50-inch model. For more information, refer to the review of the LG 50PX950.
3D performance: Overall the PX950 delivered very good 3D picture quality with 3D Blu-ray as a source, comparing well to the Panasonic VT25 and Samsung C7000 and surpassing the Panasonic GT25 along with the two LCDs.
We tested all 3D displays in the default settings of the best 3D picture mode for our dark room, which in the PX950's case was the THX 3D Cinema setting. We performed no measurements, instead relying on subjective observations. We used a PlayStation 3 and a 3D-compatible distribution amplifier to send 3D to all compatible displays and switched between the various manufacturers' proprietary glasses while watching "IMAX: Under the Sea."
Compared to the VT25 the PX950 showed a bit more crosstalk, or visible doubles around the main objects in 3D, in some scenes, but was still among the better TVs we've tested. The head of the turtle against the blue background at 22:57, for example, showed a slightly brighter and more noticeable double on the LG than on the Panasonic, but the difference was subtle. In other scenes, such as the nighttime cuttlefish sequence with the crosstalk-ridden worms (17:34), the two were more difficult to tell apart. The C7000 was also nearly identical to the PX950's crosstalk in these scenes and others.
The Samsung and the LG both beat the Panasonic at producing realistic colors. The twilight shot of sky and sea around 17:19, for example, looked unnaturally bluish on the VT25 compared to the LG and Samsung plasmas. On the other hand the VT25's image seemed a bit brighter, and definitely had better black levels, than the other two, a combination that delivered superior impact.
Color shift toward blue was even worse on the Sony, and it tended to lose 3D effect when we moved off-angle. The GT25, as we've noted previously, introduced some jagged edge artifacts, while the nonadjustable LX9500 LG looked to be exaggerating the 3D effect, in addition to showing the worst crosstalk in our lineup.
The 2D-to-3D conversion system on the PX950 had an effect somewhere between vanishingly subtle and nonexistent. We checked out a sequence from "Under the Sea" that, on the true 3D version of the movie, looks spectacular: starting at about 7:21, the camera follows sea snakes as they undulate toward the viewer and at times break off the screen seemingly into your lap. On the 2D version converted to 3D by the TVs, the LG looked the flattest and least "3-dimensional" by far, even on the long shots of the ocean floor fading to infinity. We tried cranking up the 3D control, but the only effect that increased was our feeling of slight nausea. While we haven't been impressed by any of these systems, the PX950 does the least to simulate 3D in our experience.