LG 50PB65 review: LG 50PB65

Typical Price: £1,150.00
3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Phenomenally cheap; bags of features; intense colours.

The Bad Standard definition pictures look noisy; contrast range isn't the best; image doesn't refresh as fast as we'd like.

The Bottom Line You have to take your hat off to the LG 50PB65 for being the first mainstream brand model we've seen to offer a well-specified 50-inch TV for under £1,200. But perhaps inevitably you need to be prepared to accept a few sacrifices on the performance side in return for the money you're saving

6.5 Overall

As with fellow Korean brand Samsung, LG is committed to supporting both LCD and plasma technologies for as long as there are viable markets for both.

LG's plasma support appears anything but half-baked. With the 50PB65, it's offering a 50-inch plasma TV that boasts impressive specs for a groundbreakingly low price under £1,200.

Strengths
Obviously we have to start by reiterating the 50PB65's price -- 'under £1,200 for a 50-inch screen' will be all some buyers need to hear.

But also quite appealing is the TV's design. It's supposedly based on LG's iconic Chocolate mobile phones and although its sheer bulk makes the connection to such diminutive gadgets a little hard to see, there's no denying the attractiveness of the polished dark finish offset by subtle red LED lighting.

Given its price, you've really no right to expect anything more from the 50PB65 in feature terms than basic contrast and brightness adjustments. But actually it offers way more than that.

For instance, its HD-friendly connections include two HDMIs able to take HD formats, including 1080p/24, which is now becoming important with the arrival of Blu-ray and HD DVD.

The 50PB65 is also stuffed to the rafters with picture processing. For instance, there's LG's proprietary XD Engine system, which works on enhancing colours, fine details, noise reduction and contrast. Plus you also get Faroudja's acclaimed 'DCDi' de-interlacing system for making contours look less jagged and even 100Hz scanning to make motion crisper.

So far there's really nothing about the 50PB65 to suggest how LG can sell it so cheaply. And first impressions of its pictures keep the good times rolling, as the 50PB65 produces arguably the most vibrant, full-on colours we've ever seen on a plasma TV.

It's also notable how there's no sign of common plasma technology problems like colour banding or dotting noise over faces during camera pans. And moving objects cross the screen with unusual clarity thanks to the 100Hz engine.



Weaknesses
Tragically, the picture strengths outlined above are seriously undermined by a collection of imaging problems.

Not least among these is a tendency for dark scenes to be flattened and impeded by their appearance behind a sort of grey wash. Associated with contrast issues, this grey wash is certainly not what we'd expect to see on a TV claiming a contrast ratio of 15,000:1.

Its contrast problems are probably also to blame for some dodgy colour tones that creep in during dark scenes, especially where skin is being shown.

More trouble for the 50PB65 comes with its standard definition digital tuner performance, as its aggressive approach causes it to exaggerate the sort of blocking and dot-crawl noise so commonly found in digital broadcasts.

One final issue finds really bright parts of the image leaving ghostly traces of themselves behind when they should have disappeared. It's possible this issue will reduce over time, but probably not for 50-100 hours at least.

Conclusion
If there was ever a TV we really wanted to love, it was this one -- not least because we wanted to go and buy one for ourselves, as it looks such great value on paper, at under £1,200. But the sad truth is that while it talks one heck of a talk, the 50PB65's walk's got somewhat of limp to say the least.

Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Jon Squire

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