Editors' note: The rating on this review has been lowered because of changes in the competitive marketplace.
At CNET when we review one size DTV in the same series we often don't review another, but we're making an exception in the case of the LG 60PG60. This gigantic, 60-inch plasma has essentially the same specifications as its 50-inch brother, the 50PG60, and it gets basically the same review--just 10 inches longer. The 60PG60 is the largest flat-panel HDTV this year to feature THX display certification, which is largely responsible for its excellent primary color accuracy. THX also controls a host of other factors, although their people won't tell us what those factors are, exactly. Compared with the tough plasma competition from Panasonic and Pioneer, however, this LG still can't quite match their overall picture quality, although it's still a very solid performer.
We really liked the looks of the 60PG60 and consider its design among the best for any HDTV all year. LG's massive plasma is fronted by a single pane of glass, behind which appears the screen and the black border around it. Below the screen is a simple angled-back horizontal strip, accented only by the chrome arc of the power switch on the left side. The sides are edged in metallic silver that matches the pedestal on the swivel stand, and the base of the stand is shaped in its own arc mirroring the power switch.
With stand, the 60-inch plasma measures 57.3 inches wide by 38.8 inches tall by 16.3 inches deep and weighs 137.5 pounds. Remove the stand for wall-mounting purposes (you'll need a strong wall) and the panel itself measures 57.3 inches wide by 36.4 inches tall by 3.3 inches deep and weighs 121 pounds.
LG's remote is disappointing especially for such an otherwise well-designed HDTV. We found the cluster of similar buttons around the cursor control difficult to differentiate without constantly having to look down at them. A little illumination would have gone a long way. We were also really annoyed that LG neglected to include a dedicated button to toggle between aspect ratio settings, instead including a "Simplink" key for compatible HDMI-connected gear that most people will never use. The remote can command three other pieces of equipment beyond the television itself.
We liked the simple, straightforward design of the menu system. The stark black-on-light-gray menus are legible and large, and we liked that the input menu, which is arranged horizontally, grouped active inputs near the left where they were easy to select quickly. We also appreciated the Quick Menu, which allows control of aspect ratio, picture presets, and other options without having to deal with the full menu system. On the down side, we would have liked to see text explanations accompany menu items, and navigating the extensive Expert menu (see below) can be quite tedious.
Aside from sheer size, THX display certification tops the LG 60PG60's feature set, and it basically means that this TV has passed that company's series of standards for a variety of picture quality areas, including contrast ratio, color accuracy, video processing, and others. Nowhere does THX outline its exact standards--company representatives told us that doing so would be giving away their "secret sauce"--but at least the certification allows the PG60 to claim superiority and tout an appropriately named picture mode. Check out Performance for more details.
THX is the only one of the 60PG60's picture modes that cannot be adjusted. Like other 2008 LG HDTVs, this plasma features oodles of picture adjustments in other modes, all six of which remember settings independently per input. If you're counting, that's 66 total "slots" over the set's 11 inputs, for a range of adjustability that should satisfy even the tweakiest of viewers. We also liked that all of the main picture modes indicate whether they're at default or custom settings with the presence or absence of "(User)" printed after the mode name.
The two Expert modes allow even more adjustment, starting with the most comprehensive color temperature control we've tested. It moves beyond the three presets with both 2-point and 10-point adjustment options. The latter lets calibrators really hone in on the D65 standard and create a more linear grayscale than would otherwise be possible. Expert also adds a full color management system for tuning the primary and secondary color points, again a boon for careful calibrators. A raft of other adjustments is available, too, such as gamma and noise reduction.
The 60PG60 includes a healthy five manual aspect ratio modes and a sixth that detects incoming content and attempts to adjust aspect automatically. LG chose to call its zero-overscan mode Just Scan, just like Samsung, and we'd recommend using this mode with HD content unless you notice interference along the extreme edges of the screen, which can occur on some cable ad satellite feeds.
LG threw in a variety of settings to combat potential burn-in, such as an all-white screen, an inversion mode that shows colors in reverse, and a pixel orbiter that slowly shifts the entire image around the screen.
We also appreciated the three levels of power saving, which limit light output to cut down on this 60-inch plasma's rapacious hunger for electricity. Like many new HDTVs, the 60PG60 offers a choice of "home' or "store" upon initial setup; selecting "home" is supposed to cut down on energy consumption, but according to our Juice Box results, it didn't tame power consumption very much in the default setting.
Digital connectivity is as strong as we expected on the LG 60PG60, and the star of the show is the quartet of HDMI inputs: three on the back and one on the side. Two component video jacks, a VGA-style PC input (1,920x1,080 maximum resolution), an RF input or antenna or cable, both optical and coaxial digital outputs, and an RS-232 port for custom installation round out the back panel. Conspicuously absent is any S-Video input, and the lone composite video input is stashed on the side panel, along with a USB port for digital photo display and MP3 playback from USB thumbdrives.
Much like the 50-inch LG 50PG60, which shares the same specifications, the 60PG60 delivered a very good picture overall, although it wasn't quite as accurate as we expected from a THX-certified display. Primary colors were superb, but color decoding was a bit off and the grayscale, while accurate by most standards, still veered a bit toward green. Compared to the best plasmas out there, the LG fell a bit short on black-level and bright-room performance, although standard- and high-definition video processing was excellent.