People have been tolling plasma's death knell for what seems like years, but the "other" flat-panel technology is still available from LG, Samsung, and Panasonic. The first 2010 model we've tested is LG's PK750 series, and it exhibits the same plasma characteristics--better off-angle viewing and uniformity than LCD; worse energy efficiency--as ever. Its depth of black, though better than last year's LG plasmas, still can't compete with its brethren from those other brands' plasmas, or with the better LCDs available. That said, we appreciate the PK750's style and feature set at this price level, especially compared with similarly equipped 2010 models like the Panasonic TC-P50G25 and the Samsung PN50C6500. If you're looking for a midrange plasma and don't demand videophile image quality, the PK750 deserves consideration.
Series information: We performed a hands-on evaluation of the 50-inch model, but this review also applies to the other, 60-inch size in the series. Both sizes have identical specs and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality.
|Panel depth||2 inches||Bezel width||1.5 inches|
|Single-plane face||Yes||Swivel stand||Yes|
LG uses its new-for-2010 minibrand "Infinia" to denote higher-end models, and like the LH8500 LCD, the PK750 shares a single-plane design and transparent edges for a sleek, modern look. Panel depth is a skinny (for plasma) 2 inches, out-slimming Panasonic's 2010 offerings by about an inch and a half, but coming up 0.5 inch deeper than Samsung, if you're counting. All-told LG continues to make the nicest-looking plasmas on the block in our opinion.
|Remote control and menus|
|Remote size (LxW)||9.2 x 1.8 inches||Remote screen||N/A|
|Total keys||45||Backlit keys||38|
|Other IR devices controlled||No||RF control of TV||No|
|Shortcut menu||Yes||Onscreen explanations||Yes|
LG's new clicker is a long, thin wand with decent button differentiation and friendly, rubberized keys. We liked the bulge in the middle that corresponds with a convenient notch on the underside for your index finger; we missed direct infrared control of other devices. The menus are basic and functional with plenty of ways to get around, including a nice Quick Menu of shortcuts. We would have liked to see explanations, however, especially for the more-advanced picture setting functions.
|Key TV features|
|Display technology||plasma||LED backlight||N/A|
|3D compatible||No||3D glasses included||N/A|
|Screen finish||Glass||Refresh rate||60Hz|
|Dejudder (smooth) processing||No||1080p/24 compatible||No|
|Internet connection||Yes||Wireless HDMI/AV connection||Optional|
|Other: Optional Wi-Fi dongle (AN-WF100, $70), Optional wireless media box (AN-WL100W, $350)|
The PK750 is well-equipped for a plasma in this price range, hitting most of the basics. One omission is proper handling of 1080p/24 signals (see below), despite the fact that LG told us this panel uses a 96Hz refresh rate with such signals. The company's step-up PK950 series offers a "TrueBlack filter" and a higher contrast ratio spec, which might indicate superior black-level performance. We do know for sure, however, that the 950 has a fancy Wii-style remote not found on the 750.
Other notables on the PK750 include the external "LG Wireless Media Box" option that enables you to connect HDMI and other gear wirelessly, which can really help custom installations. We'd like to see built-in Wi-Fi, given all of the LG's Internet options, but you'll have to either buy the dongle or get a third-party wireless bridge. We tested LG's dongle, which worked well, but we didn't test the media box by press time.
|Amazon Video on Demand||No||Rhapsody||No|
LG's 2009 models were among the first to include Netflix, but since that service is now available on most Internet TVs, the company's Netcast array of streaming partners is now standard-issue. There are no major missing links, however, aside from any kind of audio service like Pandora or Slacker radio.
In our tests, Vudu and Netflix performed as advertised, delivering the video quality we expect from both services via both Ethernet and Wi-Fi from LG's dongle. We didn't test DLNA or USB streaming.
|Other: 8 custom games, Skype requires speakerphone accessory (Price TBD)|
Most of the nonstreaming apps, with the exception of Picasa, come courtesy of Yahoo widgets. At the time of this writing the PK750 has access to 11 widgets. That platform is somewhat more usable than last year on LG, with snappier responses to button presses and faster load times for individual widgets. That said, it could be a lot faster still, and the initial load of the main widget taskbar can take 20 seconds or more--still an eternity on a television. In comparison, the apps platforms of Samsung and Vizio felt much snappier than LG's widgets, and content selection was wider on Samsung, Vizio, and Sony.
LG's games platform, not to be confused with the games included with Yahoo widgets, includes extremely basic custom titles, for example Sudoku and Whack a Mole--the less said the better about these pointless exercises in frustrating gameplay. Of course you'll need to buy the external speakerphone kit to use Skype. It hasn't been released (or priced) yet, so we didn't test it for this review.