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LG PX950 series (photos)

With excellent performance showing either 2D or 3D material, the LG PX950 series stands among the best plasma TVs this year.

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David Katzmaier

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Overview

When we reviewed LG's former flagship plasma in July, the PK950 series, we called it the best the company had ever produced and a worthy contender to Panasonic and Samsung. Its new boss at the top of LG's totem pole, the PX950, is basically the same TV plus 3D. LG differentiates the PX from the 3D competition by endowing it with the first THX Display certification for 3D sources, and THX assured us that said certification process is no walk in the park. The end result, according to our subjective comparison, is very good 3D picture quality indeed, albeit not significantly better than other makers' top 3D plasma TVs. Add to that the PX950's laudable 2D performance, as well as LG's sleek external styling, and you have one of the most appealing HDTVs available yet.
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Stand detail

A transparent stand stalk adds another sleek touch.
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Corner detail

The LG PX950's blue-edged bezel is flush with the screen for a cleaner look.
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Side view

For what it's worth, the 2.1-inch depth of the LG falls in the middle between the Panasonic (3.5 inches) and slim Samsung (1.4 inches) plasma models.
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Main remote

LG's standard clicker is a long, thin (thoroughly unmagical) 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.
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Magic wand remote

One extra found in LG's flagship 2010 products like the PX950 is the "Magic Wand" remote, which behaves much like the Wiimote motion controller used on the Nintendo Wii. LG's little clicker fits well in the hand and its few buttons are easy to find by feel, but you really only need two: Home and Select.
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Magic wand menu

Using the wand causes a special, big-icon menu to appear.
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Magic wand menu

The super-size menu even had a numeric keypad and some shortcut buttons.
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Inputs

There's nothing special here aside from the proprietary, optional wireless connection 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.
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3D glasses

LG's proprietary 3D glasses list for $169 per pair, but can be had for much less online.
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Rechargeable 3D glasses

LG is the only maker we've tested so far whose glasses are rechargeable. The cord is included.
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3D warning

With 3D sources, LG's legaleze is more prominent than usual.
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3D without glasses

Here's an example of what 3D looks like without glasses. Notice the doubling of onscreen objects.
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2D to 3D conversion

The PX950 can convert 2D sources to 3D, but the effect is somewhere between vanishingly subtle and nonexistent, despite any adjustments we made to the slider.
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Yahoo Widgets

Yahoo Widgets provide the main non-streaming Apps on the LG.
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Netcast streaming

The content selection on LG's Netcast is a step behind other makers' streaming offerings.
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THX for 2D sources

The two THX modes for 2D, one for bright and one for dim environments, are not user adjustable (Panasonic's single THX mode is).
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THX for 3D

With the addition of its nonadjustable "THX 3D Cinema" mode (the first of its kind), as well as the ability to adjust four other picture modes while in 3D, the PX950 trounces the completely nonadjustable 3D of LG LX9500.
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Expert mode settings

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.
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Picture quality

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.

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