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Having successfully launched the Chocolate mobile phone last summer, LG has decided to expand its luxury range to include other sorts of consumer electronics kit. The first to arrive in the UK is this mammoth plasma television, which has a 60-inch screen and a 'Full HD' 1080p native resolution.
Delivered by the likes of the PlayStation 3 and Blu-ray and HD DVD players, 1080p is the best form of high-definition video currently available, and the 60PF95 is essentially aimed at serious home- entertainment junkies. The £3,500 price tag will probably put off anyone not serious about their AV setup anyway -- and then there's the sheer size and weight of the thing to consider...
The Chocolate phone's piano-black finish and glowing touch-sensitive controls have been transplanted to the 60PF95, although they aren't quite as much of a standout here: almost all flat TVs are shiny and black, and being honest, how often do we use the controls on the front of a TV anyway? The remote control will be the object of the majority of your button-bashing and, sadly, it doesn't have any red touch-sensitive controls.
One nice touch is the addition of an LED panel just below the screen, which gives you information on which channel you're watching or which external input you've selected.
Calling the 60PF95 'attractive' or 'stylish' doesn't really seem appropriate -- given the immense dimensions of the thing, 'awesome' is a more fitting term. Unless you're planning on setting it up in a huge open space, be prepared to have it completely dominate any room you put it in. It also weighs over 80kg with the desktop stand, which makes moving it about extremely tricky (in a hernia-inducing, back-breaking way).
Once you've hauled it into position, you'll find plenty of connections for hooking up your AV kit. There are two HDMI ports and a single component video input for connecting high-definition gear, plus a VGA input for your PC (or possibly Xbox 360). You also get a couple of Scart sockets, and a side panel has S-Video and composite video inputs. Audio-wise, there's a digital optical output.
While it's becoming quite common on larger LCD televisions, 1080p compatibility is still something of a rarity on a plasma TV, so it's certainly a stand-out feature here. The screen can accept a 1080p signal via its HDMI ports (at 60, 50 and 24Hz) and its component video input (at 60Hz only), and will also take a 1,920x1,080-pixel signal through the VGA socket, so you can theoretically connect four 1080p devices simultaneously. It will also do 1:1 pixel mapping if you're using the HDMI or VGA connections, so if you're watching 1080i or 1080p material, every pixel from the source will correspond to a pixel on the screen, with no overscan.
The HDMI ports' ability to accept 1080p at 24Hz should also be highlighted, as it means it can display the much-vaunted '24p' video delivered by some HD DVD and Blu-ray players. This means your hi-def movie runs at the exact 24 frames per second speed it was originally filmed in, which brings your home-cinema experience one step closer to, well, a real cinema experience. Usually, movies are slightly sped up to 25 frames per second in order to run on a PAL TV, so 24p is the best way of retaining the original, native speed.
Setting up the TV is very simple. The menu system is well laid out, and tuning in the digital and analogue channels is a doddle. You can also tweak tonnes of picture and sound settings, so you should have few problems getting the kind of performance you want. Another option is to let the TV adjust the picture automatically for you, which it does with the help of a built-in light meter.
Hook it up to an HD DVD or Blu-ray player and the 60PF95 provides some of the finest high-definition pictures we've ever seen. The HD DVD version of King Kong is so well authored that it looks excellent on almost any HDTV, but here it's nothing short of astounding. The LG's 60-inch screen means that it shows off details that would be lost on smaller TVs, even those with 1080p compatibility. Whether it's the texture of skin on an actor's face, the surface of the sea or the New York skyline, things look incredibly sharp and rich.
Much of this is also down to the TV's colour reproduction, which is highly accurate and gives the image a very natural feel. You don't get the eye-searingly bright, oversaturated shades provided by some of the latest LCD televisions, but bright colours are strong enough, and gradation from light to dark is done smoothly, without any distracting banding or contouring. This means smoky or misty scenes, such as the boat's entry into the fog in King Kong, remain crisp and don't deteriorate into a noisy, odd-looking mess. The TV also delivers deep, strong blacks, which is another essential part of creating a top class picture.
Games look similarly brilliant, and as with almost all plasma screens, there's no ghosting during fast motion.
Standard-definition content doesn't impress half as much. Although the SD channels from our Sky HD box do look reasonably clean and detailed, the TV's built-in Freeview tuner fails to impress, with many of the channels looking noisy and dirty -- one unwelcome side effect of watching them on such a large screen. But then if you're buying a screen of this size, the hi-def side of things is going to be more important anyway.
One other slightly disappointing aspect of the television is its sound quality. While the stereo speakers work perfectly well 90 per cent of the time, we found that odd lines of movie dialogue occasionally got lost, becoming almost inaudibly soft at times. It's too infrequent a flaw to really wreck the sound performance, but it's worth noting all the same. Also, if you're spending this much money on a television, you'll probably want to add some external speakers.
£3,500 is a great deal of money in anyone's book, but in this case it does get you a fantastic HD television. 1080p pictures look absolutely brilliant on the LG's 60-inch screen, and when you consider that Pioneer is still charging around £4,500 for its year-old 50-inch PDP-5000EX (which doesn't have speakers or a TV tuner), it starts to look like a very reasonable deal.
One other factor to consider with this TV is its giant size and weight -- it's simply too big for most rooms, so do bear that in mind before buying.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide