The 50-inch, 1080p LG 50PS6000 is a great plasma TV. Those seeking absolutely perfect picture quality will want to look elsewhere, but those who want a humungous set that offers good performance for a reasonable price will be more than happy with this TV
Not everyone has the space for a 50-inch TV, but those that do should certainly make use of it. If you're in the market for a TV with a very large screen but a sensible price tag, LG's high-end, 1080p 50PS6000 plasma TV could be the set for you.
What makes this TV really stand out is its price -- it's available for less than £900 online. For such a massive piece of home-cinema awesomeness, that's a pretty decent deal. Of course, at that price, there's a risk that this TV won't perform as well as a Panasonic or Samsung plasma, both of which tend to cost significantly more. Still, we like to keep an open mind, so let's find out how this bad boy performs.
The 50PS6000 is a serious piece of kit. From the moment you haul it out of its box, you can tell it means business. There's a 50-inch solid glass screen at the front, which gives the panel a striking look. A tinge of blue at the edges of the screen makes the TV look quite futuristic, in the right light.
As with all recent LG TVs, the remote control is well-designed. It's a good shape, size and weight, and it does the job of controlling the TV excellently. The TV's menu system is also fantastic. The menus are clear, well-written and presented in an attractive style. LG has really led the way in this regard, and it's only quite recently that other manufacturers have started to catch up.
Freeview and Blu-ray
We've long maintained that plasmas have the edge over LCD sets when it comes to Freeview picture quality. They generally seem to handle standard-definition pictures better, and there's something about the technology that makes it good with compressed digital TV. We're happy to report that the 50PS6000 is no exception, and Freeview -- for the most part -- looks terrific.
The only exceptions are when very low bit rates are used for transmission, or the programme is old. Certain 4:3 US-import TV shows can look particularly horrendous, but that will only be a concern if you spend your daytimes watching ITV2.
As we hoped, Blu-ray video at a 1080p resolution looks super. The 50PS6000 isn't the sharpest TV we've ever seen, but it provides more than enough detail to impress anyone who loves movies. We used our top-quality test disc, Casino Royale, and were impressed by the quality of the opening black and white scene. The TV also held its own during the beautiful opening titles, which were as bright and colourful as we've come to expect.
This TV is not, however, well-configured out of the box. The 'vivid' picture mode is a disaster -- unless you like ludicrous, unnatural colours and entirely too much brightness. The best advice we can give is to turn the colour, brightness and contrast down to around 50 per cent. This will give you a much more natural picture.
We've touched on the topic of image retention with LG plasma TVs before, but it's worth mentioning again. During initial use of the 50PS6000, we noticed a not-insignificant amount of image retention caused by its own menus and our set-up test patterns. Image retention is not permanent, however, and it doesn't mean your TV is broken. It's especially common to see it early on in a plasma TV's life, and, for that reason, you should avoid leaving static images on the screen during the first 100 hours of the panel's life.
It's also worth mentioning that the 50PS6000 has a series of patterns that will remove retained images from the screen. If you find yourself staring at an after-image, just hop into the menus and leave one of these patterns on for a short while. That should have everything looking tip-top soon enough.
Black level and picture noise
Plasmas are well known for two attributes. The first is their good black levels, particularly when compared to CCFL-backlit LCD TVs. The second, less positive, characteristic is that they can often have 'sparkling' pixels.
During our testing, we noticed that the 50PS6000 does have a mild case of pixel noise. It doesn't affect the picture when you're sitting a normal distance away, but it is visible when you get slightly closer. We find it quite interesting that this noise is present -- Samsung and Panasonic seem to have eradicated it, for the most part.
We also noticed that, even after we'd configured the TV, the black levels still weren't as good as those of other plasmas from Samsung and Panasonic. During scenes where the TV was showing black, and the ambient light was very low, we could see the TV had a grey tinge to it. This didn't, however, bother us when we watched either TV or movies, and we don't think it's likely to bother the target audience for this TV either.
Connections and DivX
The 50PS6000 has all the inputs you would expect on a TV of its size. There are three HDMI inputs -- two on the back and one on the side. You'll also find VGA in, component in and composite inputs for camcorders and the like.
As is often the case with modern TVs, the 50PS6000 has a USB socket via which you can listen to music, look at photos or watch DivX-encoded video. Sadly, the DivX support doesn't extend to MKV or any sort of MPEG-4 hi-def files, but it's still a good feature to have.
Speakers should be heard and not seen
LG claims its 'hidden speaker' system not only keeps the 50PS6000 looking attractive but also improves the sound quality. The company says this is the case because the sound emanates from several points on the TV, creating a more immersive sound field, no matter where you sit in the room.
To be fair, we found the 50PS6000's sound perfectly fine. We didn't notice a massive amount of immersive sound, but it wasn't woolly or muffled either, which is great news. This set can certainly manage the audio of standard TV broadcasts perfectly well. The only time we think you'll feel disappointed is when watching action movies. Of course, no TV in the history of mankind has ever produced excellent sound from tiny built-in speakers, so this is hardly a problem that's exclusive to the 50PS6000.
If you mostly watch Freeview, but have an interest in gaming and HD movies on Blu-ray, the LG 50PS6000 is worth considering. Its Freeview picture quality is very good indeed, and we thoroughly enjoyed watching HD movies on it too.
The competition at this size is virtually non-existent. We're certain you won't get a better price than the one asked by LG for this screen. It's a competent machine and one that we think will put a smile on the face of anyone who buys it.
Edited by Charles Kloet