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LG PA6500 series plasma review: LG PA6500 series plasma

Picture quality

The PA6500 is essentially a 1080p version of the PA4500 and as a result, its picture quality is very similar to the cheaper TV's. While black levels and shadow details are almost identical in performance, the two do differ in color response. I would describe the PA4500's color as more excitable, with richer skin tones and better color saturation. On the other hand, the PA6500 was more muted, but arguably more accurate. One problem I did find was that the PA6500 was the most susceptible of all the models in the lineup to image retention, as I'll detail shortly.

If the Samsung E450 didn't exist, this TV would probably present a better deal, but for the money you can get a better-performing TV at 50 inches. Plenty of better 60-inch sets are available too, but they do cost more than this LG, making the 60PA6500 a potential bargain pick -- but I'd still pay a couple hundred more to avoid this TV's issues. Yes, the LG does look better some LCDs up to twice the price, but even at this level it's not enough.

Click the image at the right to see the picture settings used in the review and to read more about how this TV’s picture controls worked during calibration.

Comparison models (details)
Samsung PN51E550 51-inch plasma
Panasonic TC-P50U50 50-inch plasma
Sony KDL-46EX640 46-inch, LCD
Panasonic TC-P50X5 50-inch plasma
LG 42PA4500 42-inch plasma
Samsung PN51E450 51-inch plasma

Black level: Dark scenes revealed the PA6500 as one of the lightest in the lineup. The Samsung E450 showed much deeper blacks and provides a palpably more solid picture for the same as the LG.

That said the LG was the best of my budget lineup, bar the Panasonic U50 at revealing shadow detail. That's not to say it's accurate though; the TV's gamma curve doesn't adhere to our standard (2.2) and was a much lighter 1.8. Regardless, during the flyby of the Romulan mining ship in "Star Trek" it was possible to pick out the shape of the passing ship -- something that the other TV's weren't as successful at doing.

No matter how detailed the shadows, the picture looks less realistic without deep black levels to underpin it. The lighter black levels of the PA6500 did make the images look more indistinct overall, and even the PA4500 managed a smidgen more inkiness at times during playback.

Image retention -- where the image sticks after playing highly contrasting material -- is an issue with this TV, and it leads to ghostly images, particularly on black screens. It's not permanent burn-in, but as I don't want to try to replicate the accidental testing I performed with the Panasonic and Samsung TVs, I can't say if the more serious burn-in is also an issue. There is no obvious anti-burn-in protection on this unit.

Color accuracy: From the red cadet uniforms of the "Star Trek" crew to the lush green landscapes of "The Tree of Life," the PA6500 struggled a little in comparison to its competition. Colors were muted and sapped of the vitality shown by even the PA4500. Colors were less saturated than its lesser-priced brethren but on the flipside they were more natural-looking -- particularly flesh tones.

Video processing: The TV was able to complete both the 24p compliance test and also showed few errors in the comparison during our 1080i scaling test. These tests indicate that the TV is able to handle both interlaced and HD sources well.

As I saw in the PA4500, the PA6500 is also susceptible to solarizing effects -- where gradations of color break up into bands. This is a plasma issue -- particularly for budget models like the LGs. At 24:20 during the Tree of Life we see a dawning sun, and the PA6500 broke this into bands, including one green one. Most of the other TVs didn't do this.

Bright lighting: The PA6500 has a glossy screen that collects reflections -- the mortal enemy of open blinds. That said, its screen also preserved contrast well. All told, the LG was actually the best performer in the light, definitely better than the U50, and this is one of its best characteristics.

Power consumption: Plasma is unlike LCD in that the resolution has a part in how much electricity it uses. While the 720p plasmas, the Samsung E450 and LG PA4500, used surprisingly little power, the 1080p PA6500 uses what I was expecting. It drew 188 watts in calibrated mode, which is a little less than twice what a 720p plasma would. If you want power efficiency, again go for the Samsung E450 or an LED/LCD model.

Read more about how we test TVs.

Juice box
LG 50PA6500 Picture settings
Default Calibrated Power save
Picture on (watts) 210.05 188.11 112.75
Picture on (watts/sq. inch) 0.2 0.18 0.11
Standby (watts) 0.11 0.11 0.11
Cost per year $46.13 $41.32 $24.80
Score (considering size) Average
Score (overall) Average
Annual energy cost after calibration

LG 50PA6500

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