There are people who think plasma TVs don't have a future. What they don't see is that plasma is an incredibly good technology, and one that gets better with each passing year. There are some things it's not well suited to -- such as being attached to a PC, where there's still some risk of image retention. But if you want a great movie experience then we really think you'll get a lot out of a lovely big PDP.
The LG 50PG6000 is aimed at people who want a honking big TV, but who aren't prepared to shell out lots of cash for a 1080p model. For around £1,000, does the lack of support for 1080p matter?
Once we got the 50PG6000 out of the box, we were instantly struck by how nice it looked. LG has made a real effort this year to produce interesting and stylish TVs and we think it has done a great job.
In terms of connections, the 50PG6000 has one of the best selections we've ever seen. There are four HDMI inputs: three on the back and one on the side. You also get a pair of Scart inputs and assorted component, composite and S-video sockets. On the side is a USB input for viewing photos and listening to MP3s.
The front of the TV is untouched apart from a simple power button on the right hand side. The only indication that this TV is even made by LG is the company logo, placed in the middle below the screen. When the TV isn't turned on, the front appears to be one large piece of glass, and we really like this styling. It's totally free from visible speakers -- more on that later -- or other distractions, giving it a sleek and futuristic look.
LG has also modified its remote controls. The one supplied with the 50PG6000 range is lighter, better-looking and more responsive than the ones provided with the company's older televisions. All the buttons are located in a sensible place, too, making it easier to control.
The 50PG6000 doesn't have a massive amount of exciting features. It's designed to be a TV for people who want a big screen that will look good in the corner of the lounge. There are several nice touches, however, that make this TV a great choice for people looking for a simple, easy-to-use TV.
Firstly, the LG has one of the best, most intuitive and stylish menu systems we've ever seen, including those on TVs that cost twice as much. We're very keen to congratulate LG on this -- one of the things we despise about some TVs is the pain and torture involved in setting them up. Every menu on the LG is clear and graphically rich, but crucially, there is no lag as a result of this well designed system.
The TV features a Freeview tuner, so you can watch your 'stories', and there is an eight-day EPG for checking what entertainment gems are on the horizon. The EPG follows the design ethic of the TV menus; it's simple to read and interesting to look at. We're smitten.
The TV also has a number of picture modes designed to customise the picture for whatever material you're watching. There is a game mode for console users. For watching broadcast TV and movies, we think the movie mode is the best setting, striking the right balance between colour levels and brightness.
As we mentioned earlier, there are no visible speakers. When we saw this, we thought the TV was going to sound like a man with a sore throat yelling through a melon. To our immense surprise, the sound from the LG is fantastic. The trick is that the speakers are mounted underneath the TV. This may seem like a recipe for disaster, but there wasn't any point during our testing that we felt the location was a problem. Indeed, dialogue from the LG was brilliant -- very clear, indeed.
We won't pretend that you'll get amazing low-end effects from the TV, but playing Ghost Recon 2 on the PlayStation 3 proved to be an immersive experience with surprisingly good stereo separation, which is important if you're going to be able to hear where your enemies are shooting from.
Listening to Freeview radio stations proved that the TV can do a good job with most sound, although we'd say it was too heavy on the high frequency by default. Fortunately, that's customisable via the graphic equaliser.
Freeview image quality was decent, but we have come to expect that a 50-inch TV will struggle to cover all the compression flaws in standard definition material. Certainly, the LG tries hard to clean up the picture, and with the right material it can look good enough. Modern, studio-based TV shows look nice, but older material can suffer slightly.
Viewing DVDs through the set, however, showed that the TV can cope well with standard definition material when the source quality is high. Although compression artefacts were visible at times -- the fault of the DVD we used, not the TV -- we were impressed. If you have a big collection of movies on disc, this TV won't disappoint when you come to watch them.
Blu-ray material and HD gaming both look amazing. Despite this TV only offering 720p resolutions, every high definition disc we looked at had incredible detail. From Surf's Up to Casino Royale, everything looked amazing. It's normal for movies to have a lot of grain in them at times, and the LG shows that warts and all -- as we would expect it to.
For your hard earned dosh, you get a great picture on a massive screen in a package that's been designed with care and attention. You won't be able to tell your friends that you've got 1080p, but trust us: they will be impressed when they see this screen in your lounge.
At this price, there isn't really a lot of competition. LCDs are a lot more expensive at these sizes, and plasmas from other companies tend to cost more. If we had to suggest an alternative, you could try the Panasonic TH-42PX80B, which although smaller, is a great budget plasma TV.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday