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LG PG60 review: LG PG60

LG PG60

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David Katzmaier
David_Katzmaier.jpg

David Katzmaier

Editorial Director -- TVs and streaming

David has reviewed TVs, streaming services, streaming devices and home entertainment gear at CNET since 2002. He is an ISF certified, NIST trained calibrator and developed CNET's TV test procedure himself. Previously David wrote reviews and features for Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as "The Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics."

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10 min read

Editors' note: The rating on this review has been lowered because of changes in the competitive marketplace.

7.0

LG PG60

The Good

Highly accurate primary colors in THX mode; solid video processing; superb feature set with numerous picture controls; fine connectivity with four HDMI and one PC input; beautiful external design.

The Bad

Less accurate color decoding and grayscale in THX mode; produces lighter blacks than the best plasmas.

The Bottom Line

Although its THX mode isn't as accurate as we'd like to see, the massive LG 60PG60 60-inch plasma TV still delivers a good picture.

At CNET when we review one size DTV in the same series we often don't review another, but we're making an exception in the case of the LG 60PG60. This gigantic, 60-inch plasma has essentially the same specifications as its 50-inch brother, the 50PG60, and it gets basically the same review--just 10 inches longer. The 60PG60 is the largest flat-panel HDTV this year to feature THX display certification, which is largely responsible for its excellent primary color accuracy. THX also controls a host of other factors, although their people won't tell us what those factors are, exactly. Compared with the tough plasma competition from Panasonic and Pioneer, however, this LG still can't quite match their overall picture quality, although it's still a very solid performer.

Features
We really liked the looks of the 60PG60 and consider its design among the best for any HDTV all year. LG's massive plasma is fronted by a single pane of glass, behind which appears the screen and the black border around it. Below the screen is a simple angled-back horizontal strip, accented only by the chrome arc of the power switch on the left side. The sides are edged in metallic silver that matches the pedestal on the swivel stand, and the base of the stand is shaped in its own arc mirroring the power switch.

With stand, the 60-inch plasma measures 57.3 inches wide by 38.8 inches tall by 16.3 inches deep and weighs 137.5 pounds. Remove the stand for wall-mounting purposes (you'll need a strong wall) and the panel itself measures 57.3 inches wide by 36.4 inches tall by 3.3 inches deep and weighs 121 pounds.

LG's remote is disappointing especially for such an otherwise well-designed HDTV. We found the cluster of similar buttons around the cursor control difficult to differentiate without constantly having to look down at them. A little illumination would have gone a long way. We were also really annoyed that LG neglected to include a dedicated button to toggle between aspect ratio settings, instead including a "Simplink" key for compatible HDMI-connected gear that most people will never use. The remote can command three other pieces of equipment beyond the television itself.

We liked the simple, straightforward design of the menu system. The stark black-on-light-gray menus are legible and large, and we liked that the input menu, which is arranged horizontally, grouped active inputs near the left where they were easy to select quickly. We also appreciated the Quick Menu, which allows control of aspect ratio, picture presets, and other options without having to deal with the full menu system. On the down side, we would have liked to see text explanations accompany menu items, and navigating the extensive Expert menu (see below) can be quite tedious.

Features
Aside from sheer size, THX display certification tops the LG 60PG60's feature set, and it basically means that this TV has passed that company's series of standards for a variety of picture quality areas, including contrast ratio, color accuracy, video processing, and others. Nowhere does THX outline its exact standards--company representatives told us that doing so would be giving away their "secret sauce"--but at least the certification allows the PG60 to claim superiority and tout an appropriately named picture mode. Check out Performance for more details.

LG 60PG60
The THX picture mode of the LG 60PG60 cannot be adjusted.

THX is the only one of the 60PG60's picture modes that cannot be adjusted. Like other 2008 LG HDTVs, this plasma features oodles of picture adjustments in other modes, all six of which remember settings independently per input. If you're counting, that's 66 total "slots" over the set's 11 inputs, for a range of adjustability that should satisfy even the tweakiest of viewers. We also liked that all of the main picture modes indicate whether they're at default or custom settings with the presence or absence of "(User)" printed after the mode name.

The two Expert modes allow even more adjustment, starting with the most comprehensive color temperature control we've tested. It moves beyond the three presets with both 2-point and 10-point adjustment options. The latter lets calibrators really hone in on the D65 standard and create a more linear grayscale than would otherwise be possible. Expert also adds a full color management system for tuning the primary and secondary color points, again a boon for careful calibrators. A raft of other adjustments is available, too, such as gamma and noise reduction.

LG 60PG60
Plenty of adjustments are available in the Expert picture modes, including a comprehensive 10-point color temperature control.

The 60PG60 includes a healthy five manual aspect ratio modes and a sixth that detects incoming content and attempts to adjust aspect automatically. LG chose to call its zero-overscan mode Just Scan, just like Samsung, and we'd recommend using this mode with HD content unless you notice interference along the extreme edges of the screen, which can occur on some cable ad satellite feeds.

LG threw in a variety of settings to combat potential burn-in, such as an all-white screen, an inversion mode that shows colors in reverse, and a pixel orbiter that slowly shifts the entire image around the screen.

We also appreciated the three levels of power saving, which limit light output to cut down on this 60-inch plasma's rapacious hunger for electricity. Like many new HDTVs, the 60PG60 offers a choice of "home' or "store" upon initial setup; selecting "home" is supposed to cut down on energy consumption, but according to our Juice Box results, it didn't tame power consumption very much in the default setting.

LG 60PG60
With four HDMI inputs--three on the back and one on the side--the LG 60PG60 has plenty of connectivity.

Digital connectivity is as strong as we expected on the LG 60PG60, and the star of the show is the quartet of HDMI inputs: three on the back and one on the side. Two component video jacks, a VGA-style PC input (1,920x1,080 maximum resolution), an RF input or antenna or cable, both optical and coaxial digital outputs, and an RS-232 port for custom installation round out the back panel. Conspicuously absent is any S-Video input, and the lone composite video input is stashed on the side panel, along with a USB port for digital photo display and MP3 playback from USB thumbdrives.

Performance
Much like the 50-inch LG 50PG60, which shares the same specifications, the 60PG60 delivered a very good picture overall, although it wasn't quite as accurate as we expected from a THX-certified display. Primary colors were superb, but color decoding was a bit off and the grayscale, while accurate by most standards, still veered a bit toward green. Compared to the best plasmas out there, the LG fell a bit short on black-level and bright-room performance, although standard- and high-definition video processing was excellent.

Since the THX mode of the LG 60PG0, unlike that of the Panasonic TH-50PZ800U, doesn't let you make any changes to the picture, it presents a dilemma: to simply use the THX setting as-is or to take advantage of the extensive Expert menu settings to try to improve upon it. We compared the two by performing our standard calibration of Expert. As it turns out, THX provided the most accurate color once again, mainly because we couldn't get primary colors, especially green and cyan, to come as close to the HD standard as THX did. Expert did deliver a more accurate and linear grayscale, color balance was also better (THX desaturated red), and shadow detail very slightly better, and we were able to get a brighter image out of Expert, but despite these post-calibration advantages, we still preferred the color accuracy of THX overall. That said, we'll let you be the judge: we posted our Expert picture settings at the end of this blog post.

Unfortunately we didn't have any like-size plasmas to pit against the LG in our comparison, so we settled for the usual suspects in the 50-inch size: Panasonic's TH-50PZ800U, Pioneer's PDP-5020FD, and Samsung's PN50A650. We threw in the 52-inch Samsung LN52A650 LCD for good measure and spun up a Blu-ray copy of Blade Runner: The Final Cut on our PlayStation 3 to perform the bulk of our image quality tests.

Black level: As with its 50-inch brother, the 60-inch LG 60PG60 didn't equal the black-level performance of the Panasonic or the Pioneer plasmas. Dark areas, such as the cityscape and letterbox bars during the initial flyover of Los Angeles, appeared a good deal lighter than either of those models, which made the LG's picture appear less impactful. Black-level performance is especially important on a very dark film like this, but the difference in the LG's black levels was also apparent, albeit much less obvious, in lighter scenes or while watching in a more brightly lit room. We wouldn't describe the LG's blacks as washed-out by any stretch, however, and they still appeared about as deep as those of the Samsung plasma.

The 60PG60's shadow detail throughout the film was very good in THX mode, although we felt that the post-calibration Expert mode was a bit better, bringing out the darkest, most subtle details a bit more clearly.

Color accuracy: The largest impact of THX certification, as we mentioned above, was in the arena of primary and secondary color accuracy. The film has a lot of cyan, from the light streaming into the examination room in the beginning to the clouds passing in front of Deckard as he munches noodles. On the LG in THX mode these colors looked natural and accurate, not overly bluish as we saw on the Pioneer plasma or the LG's Expert setting. Greens were also significantly more accurate, as we saw when we turned to a high-def baseball game.

On the flip side we felt that the LG's THX mode desaturated colors, especially reds, slightly compared with that of the Panasonic, which made some colorful areas appear slightly less vivid by comparison. A close-up of Pris as she approached the Bradbury, for example, revealed a bit paler complexion and slightly less punch to her lips and cheeks than we saw on the Panasonic. We also noticed the relatively greener tinge to grayscale when we looked closely, which again showed up in delicate skin tones like the alabaster face of Rachel as she walks toward Deckard in the room atop the ziggurat. The differences in color temperature and color balance (color decoding) were subtle, to be sure, and disappeared when we engaged Expert mode, but in the more accurate THX setting we did notice them. All of the modes on the LG also colored black areas a bit greenish, much like the Samsungs and unlike the Pioneer and Panasonic plasmas.

Video processing: As we've come to expect from LG, the 60PG60 acquitted itself well in this department, deinterlacing both film- and video-based sources properly, delivering every line of resolution from 1080p signals, and squelching excessive noise when we engaged the noise reduction functions. We measured a motion resolution of between 800 and 900 lines on this set, which is about what we expect from a 1080p plasma, although as always we didn't notice any blurring during the film, even with the Samsung LCD (120Hz dejudder turned off).

Uniformity: Unlike with the 50PG60, we didn't notice any more false contouring on the 60PG60 than we did on the other displays, even with Blade Runner's numerous contouring-prone areas, such as the beams of light angling through the smoky room on the ziggurat, or the headlights of the hovercars in the smog.

Bright lighting: LG doesn't tout any sort of antireflective screen on this model, and in our observations the 60PG60 didn't do much to curb in-room reflections glancing off its massive glass screen. All of the other plasmas in our test, to a greater or lesser degree, did a better job at dimming light from in-room sources such as lamps or an open window, and all did a better job of preserving black levels in bright rooms without washing out.

Standard-definition: The 60PG60 did very well in our standard-definition tests. The set resolved every line of the DVD format, and details in the stone bridge and grass looked relatively sharp. We appreciated that rotating diagonal lines were smooth with very few jaggies, as were the stripes of a waving American flag. In THX mode, the noisy shots of sunsets and skies looked clean, while the four-step control available in other picture modes worked well to remove motes of snow and other video noise. The LG also engaged 2:3 pull-down detection quickly and effectively, eliminating moire from the stands behind the racecar.

PC: Via HDMI in THX mode the LG 60PG60 performed as well as we expected, resolving every line of a 1,920x1,080 source with no overscan and clearly legible text with very little edge enhancement. We were pleasantly surprised to see the same excellent performance via the analog VGA input.

TEST RESULT SCORE
Before color temp (20/80) 6467/6381 Good
After color temp 6464/6469 Good
Before grayscale variation +/- 173 Good
After grayscale variation +/- 62 Good
Color of red (x/y) 0.653/0.327 Average
Color of green 0.294/0.612 Good
Color of blue 0.147/0.068 Good
Overscan 0.0% Good
Defeatable edge enhancement Y Good
480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps Pass Good
1080i video resolution Pass Good
1080i film resolution Pass Good

LG 60PG60 Picture settings
Default Calibrated Power Save
Picture on (watts) 507.83 385.74 350.29
Picture on (watts/sq. inch) 0.33 0.25 0.23
Standby (watts) 0 0 0
Cost per year $157.18 $119.39 $108.42
Score (considering size) Poor
Score (overall) Poor
*Cost per year based on 2007 average U.S. residential electricity cost of 10.6 cents per kw/hr at 8 hours on/16 hours off per day.

How we test TVs.

7.0

LG PG60

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 7
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