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LG 50PC3D review: LG 50PC3D

After setup, we watched selected scenes from The Interpreter on DVD. The fluctuation in black level became apparent in shots with lots of shadows, such as the early bar scene with Tobin Keller (Sean Penn) drinking to forget his newly deceased wife. To discern the folds in his jacket, we had to increase the brightness control, which made black areas of the image, such as deeper shadows and the letterbox bars, appear lighter than they should have. The lighter blacks, as always, also made colors appear less saturated.

We also detected softness in the DVD image via both HDMI and component-video. In a shot of Silvia Broome (Nicole Kidman) from across her apartment, her fine blonde hair and fair face were less detailed than they looked on other sets we had on hand to compare (namely two Samsungs, the HP-S4253 plasma and the LN-S4051D LCD). As she types an e-mail, we could read the small text of her generic Web-mail client on the Samsungs but not on the LG. We were able to improve it a bit by bringing up the sharpness control, but that introduced some edge enhancement that appeared, for example, as a brighter edge along her black jacket. We preferred the softer image to edge enhancement, wishing, of course, to not have to make that decision.

The LG 50PC3D did a good job producing accurate color. In an extreme close-up of Broome taking a lie-detector test, her skin looked suitably pale with just the right amount of red in her cheeks. A lot of this accuracy can be chalked up to the set's excellent postcalibration color temperature, but its grayscale in the Warm color-temperature setting prior to calibration was also more accurate and consistent than that of many plasmas. We also appreciated the LG's lack of false contouring; in one instance when Keller points out a photo of Broome in an album, the shadow on the white facing page faded smoothly into white with no concentric banding.

When we turned to HDTV, the LG's image, as expected, looked better, although it had many of the same issues we saw on DVD. During one of the many Red Sox vs. Yankees games on ESPN, the grass looked a bit softer than it should. Again, we could improve detail somewhat at the expense of making edges--especially visible in the borders of the visiting Sox's gray uniforms--unnaturally sharp-looking. Colors were nicely saturated, although the grass looked slightly more yellow than it should have. We also saw too much mosquito noise, so called because it resembles a swarm of tiny mosquitoes, in the blue backstop behind home plate and other flat areas.

We looked at a variety of standard-def material, and the results were below average. While the set did a decent job removing jagged edges from video-based material, it failed to smooth out lines and otherwise pass any of our 2:3 pull-down tests, via either S-Video or component-video. As a result, we recommend you mate the LG with a solid-performing progressive-scan or upconverting DVD player to handle standard-def video-processing duties. You may still notice moving lines in some film-based standard-def TV sources, however.

Our biggest complaint with the LG 50PC3D's standard-def performance was its inability to reduce much of the video noise inherent in low-quality images. The telltale mosquito noise, visible especially in skies and other flat images, was definitely more obvious on the LG than on other plasmas we've reviewed recently.

Test Result Score
Before color temp (20/80) 7,192/6,893K Good
After color temp 6,513/6,414K Good
Before grayscale variation +/- 427K Good
After grayscale variation +/- 36K Good
Color of red (x/y) 0.653/0.327 Good
Color of green 0.254/0.673 Poor
Color of blue 0.149/0.059 Good
Overscan 4 percent Average
Black-level retention No stable pattern Poor
2:3 pull-down, 24fps No Poor
Defeatable edge enhancement No Poor

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