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LG PA6500 series plasma review: LG PA6500 series plasma

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MSRP: $1,499.99

The Good The LG PA6500 is an inexpensive plasma with natural-looking colors and solid bright-room quality. Image processing is a highlight, with correct 24p response mating well with the full 1080p resolution. This LG has a living-room-friendly appearance and it's easy to use as well.

The Bad The LG evinced some of the lightest, least realistic black levels in its class. Colors lack some of the saturation found in the TV's peers, and it showed more temporary image retention. The LG suffers from solarization, which manifests as distinct bands in gradated colors.

The Bottom Line The LG PA6500 is a decent plasma television if you'll have nothing less than 1080p for cheap, but it's not the best value at this level.

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6.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 5
  • Performance 5
  • Value 7

It's getting toward the spiky end of 2012, and save the surprise appearance of some OLEDs, we've seen most of the TVs that we expect to score highest in picture quality. This leaves us with televisions like the PA6500: not a dreadful plasma by any means -- no, that's the Panasonic X5 -- but one that still can't qualify for our recommendation.

LG's cheapest 1080p plasma does some things right, particularly colors, and some not-so right, the worst being LCD-like black levels that lead to a less "present" picture. The LG PA6500's biggest problem, though, is that its competition is too good. At 50 inches, the entry-level Samsung E450 is cheaper and a better performer despite its lower resolution; if you insist on 1080p, the slightly more expensive Panasonic U50 is the way to go. Meanwhile the 60-inch PA6500 is among the least expensive TVs you can buy at that size, but we'd still recommend paying extra for the much better picture quality of the Samsung PN60E550.

Series information: I performed a hands-on evaluation of the 50-inch LG 50PA6500, but this review also applies to the 60-inch size in the series. Both sizes have identical specs and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality.

Models in series (details)
LG 60PA6500 60 inches
LG 50PA6500 (reviewed) 50 inches

Let me invent a new term to describe the PA6500: it is a perfectly "livingroomable" television. That is to say that it won't stick out in an obnoxious way in your living area, or look so drab as to induce spontaneous comas. The frame is clad predominantly in glossy black with a vaguely gun-metal wedge at the bottom. The swiveling stand has a businesslike appearance and is a welcome change from stodgy rectangular ones.

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The bottom of the bezel may be gun-metal gray, but it's subtle. Sarah Tew/CNET

The included remote control is surprisingly full-featured with access to all most commonly used functions: volume, channels, and so on. Indeed, I had to double-check that this was the correct remote since it seemed too good for such a cheap TV.

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The remote control is better than I expected. Sarah Tew/CNET

The TV's menu system is similar to the rest of the line, with small, easy-to-read icons leading to a pleasant experience. Of course it does without the Smart TV aspects of the connected televisions, which greatly helps in the "simple" department.

Key TV features
Display technology Plasma LED backlight N/A
Screen finish Glossy Remote Standard
Smart TV No Internet connection N/A
3D technology N/A 3D glasses included No
Refresh rate(s) 60Hz Dejudder (smooth) processing No
DLNA-compliant No USB Photo/Music/Video

Unlike the cheaper PA4500 and its 720p resolution, the PA6500 is a full-HD, 1080p television. Apart from that though, the set doesn't have many features when compared to more expensive devices. Additions like 3D and smart TV are far from ubiquitous yet, and you'll have to pay a bit more to enjoy them. But if you want free or inexpensive streaming content then a $60 Roku HD will serve you well.

The TV, like most plasmas these days, features 600Hz subfield driving, which refers to the rate at which the TV sends the picture to the screen, and is not actually related to 120Hz-type engines found on LCD TVs.

Picture settings: Like the PA4500 that precedes it in LG's lineup, the PA6500 includes plenty of tweaks, including ISF presets and 20-point grayscale adjustments. The TV also comes with a power-saving mode, although like most such additions, it caps light output, which leads to a too-dim picture.

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Hello LG menu, you friendly thing you Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive

Connectivity: The LG features three HDMI ports, with two on the side and one on the rear, an uncommon two component inputs, a composite connector, a single USB, and a PC connection.

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