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LG 60PH6700 review: LG plasma is high-tech, middle-performance

The LG 60PH6700 offers plenty of extras and a mostly good picture, but the competition in the plasma arena is a little too fierce.

Ty Pendlebury Editor
Ty Pendlebury has worked at CNET since 2006. He lives in New York City where he writes about streaming and home audio.
Expertise Ty has worked for radio, print, and online publications, and has been writing about home entertainment since 2004. He is an avid record collector and streaming music enthusiast. Credentials
  • Ty was nominated for Best New Journalist at the Australian IT Journalism awards, but he has only ever won one thing. As a youth, he was awarded a free session for the photography studio at a local supermarket.
Ty Pendlebury
9 min read

Despite still having the best image quality of any affordable imaging technology, the plasma TV market continues to shrink each and every year. Panasonic may seem like the only company that produces plasma TVs anymore -- at least in any real quantity -- but LG is still pumping them out, albeit in less high-profile numbers.


LG 60PH6700

The Good

The <b>LG 60PH6700</b> offers decent value with a large screen and a lot of features for a little over a grand; shadow detail and color performance are excellent; some of the best audio from a TV at this price; the Magic Motion remote is fun; cable box control works very well.

The Bad

Black levels are poor compared with both LCDs and plasmas at the same price. The screen lacks a bright-room filter and picture suffers in the light, and 3D glasses aren't included in the package.

The Bottom Line

The LG 60PH6700 offers plenty of extras and a mostly good picture but the plasma competition is a little too fierce.

While the LG PH6700 performs similarly to last year's flagship plasma, and is now the most expensive in the company's range, LG isn't marketing it as such. This is a midrange TV with decent performance and a bunch of bells and whistles to sweeten the...well...whatever kind of pot you put whistles into. (A kettle?) Buy this television and you get Smart TV, voice interaction, 3D (but no glasses), and cable box integration.

In picture quality it's on par with last year's LG PM9700 at a much cheaper price, but this television's main problem is the competition. Even last year the flagship PM9700 lagged behind the Panasonic ST50, and Panasonic's plasmas are now even better! As a result black levels are only average, while happily shadow detail and color accuracy is excellent.

Consistency is a virtue, and you get a bunch of useful extras for a budget price, but sadly this TV is trounced by all of the other plasmas in its price range. Nevertheless, the LG 60PH6700 offers a big screen for relatively little money and the cable integration and magic remote in particular may make it worthwhile.

Last year's LG LCDs were exquisite-looking televisions -- some of the most aesthetically pleasing TVs ever produced -- but the main problem was that these cosmetic decisions negatively affected image quality. However this wasn't as much of a problem for plasma, which actually had a performance bump in 2012. The design of this 2013 "flagship" is similar to the previous year's with a relatively slender black bezel, except this year it's chamfered inward like a photo frame. The plastic itself has a brushed appearance but it doesn't feel particularly premium.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Still, for the PH6700 to be half the price of the PM9700 the company must have had to cut some corners somewhere, right? Some may argue that's in the stand, which is two-tone but fairly unremarkable by 2013 standards, but you could also contend that the swiveling mechanism makes up for any utilitarianism in the cosmetic department.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The remote is either an upgrade or a downgrade from last year's "wand," depending on what you're looking for. The PH6700 comes with a version of LG's Motion Remote that looks more like a lollipop than the shoehorn that ships with the 9700. Most people will probably appreciate the pointing and scrolling capabilities afforded by this remote, but if you're a tweaker like myself you'll find the lack of dedicated controls like "Menu" frustrating. Worse for a remote that also has learning capability is that it misses DVR transport control (Play, Pause, Rewind, Fast-Forward...). While you're able to call up a virtual remote I'd much rather use a Harmony universal remote. But if you make less frequent use of the DVR, or have a simple setup that doesn't require a universal clicker, the coolness of LG's motion control might be worth the drawbacks.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The menu system is mostly unchanged from previous iterations though now it is translucent and is easy to navigate via the Magic Motion remote --- even if the scroll wheel still won't work here.

Key TV features
Display technology Plasma LED backlight n/a
Screen finish Glossy Remote Universal Motion
Smart TV Yes Internet connection Built-in Wi-Fi
3D technology Active 3D glasses included No
Refresh rate(s) 60Hz Dejudder (smooth) processing Yes
DLNA-compliant Photo/Music/Video USB Photo/Music/Video
Other: Cable box control

Though it's the best plasma in the 2013 lineup, the PH6700 is not a direct replacement for the PM9700, but it does rival it for features.

Yes, this television has Smart TV, and is "3D-ready" (glasses sold separately), which means it already bests the fairly spartan Panasonic S60 in features, but it does even better than that. The TV also features an upgraded Magic Motion remote with voice search and cable box integration. The LG uses a similar cable control system to the LA8600's -- the TV scatter-guns IR information into your living room and negates the need for a separate blaster.

Smart TV: LG didn't completely redesign its Smart TV interface for 2013, but it did make some improvements. The most ambitious is the addition of a system called On Now, integrating cable box control with a robust browse/search/suggestion engine that incorporates shows from your cable or satellite provider as well as traditional on-demand sources like Netflix. In most ways the system is even better than Samsung's own similar On TV offering.

The main Smart TV interface is pretty busy and icon-heavy, although I didn't mind much since the layout is clear enough and navigation via the motion remote is a cinch. A row of function shortcuts and apps lines the bottom below a series of "cards," three of which appear on the screen at once. The first card has an inset window showing a live view of what's playing on the current input, set above an equal-sized ad. Hey, at least there are no banner ads.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The remote control incorporates voice search and I found it was fairly quick to find content on both streaming services and off-air, even with my relatively thick Australian accent.

All of the main apps are on display here, including Netflix, Hulu Plus and YouTube, but the music apps are lacking, with no Pandora or Amazon. For a look at the all of the apps offered by the LG's Smart TV and its competitors, try here.

Picture settings: Like any LG TV worth its salt, the PH6700 is loaded with picture-tweaking capabilities. It comes with two ISF calibration modes in addition to the normal settings of Cinema, Standard, and so on. The LG has both a Color Management setting and a 20 point grayscale adjustment; however, based on last year's failed experiments with the 20-point and my CNET colleague David Katzmaier's lack of success recently I didn't use the 20-point system. See the picture settings forum post for more information, and click the image at the right to see the picture settings used in the review and to read more about how this TV's picture controls worked during calibration.

Connectivity: Given that the PH6700 packs in so many features, it's hard to see what has been skimped upon in order to keep the price low, but one small answer is HDMI ports. While most flagships have four HDMI ports the PH6700 only has three, which is a little meager for a 60-inch television. You do get MHL capability for charging/mirroring tablets and smartphones though. Besides that there are just three USB ports, a hybrid composite/component input, optical digital audio, and Ethernet. Wireless Ethernet is also included.

Picture quality
Traditionally, LG's products have lagged behind competitors' in terms of black levels but have had very good shadow detail, and the trend continues with the PH6700. Its outright blacks can't compete with Panasonic's or even Samsung's but its shadow detail was undoubtedly the best.

Meanwhile color was very good, with rich saturation and natural tones. As a plasma lacking a louver filter, the television doesn't perform very well in a lit room, and you may need to investigate some form of light control.

Comparison models (details)
Sharp LC-60LE650 60 inch LCD
Panasonic TC-P50S60 50-inch plasma
Panasonic TC-P55ST60 55-inch plasma
Vizio E420i-A1 42-inch direct-lit LED
Panasonic TC-P65VT50 (reference) 65-inch plasma

Black level: Though we don't have a sample of last year's PM9700 to hand, based on the black-level reading taken at the time they are basically the same. This lack of improvement is to be expected as LG didn't show off any plasmas at this year's CES. It seems plasma is no longer a priority for the company.

Let's talk about those black levels in more depth. Against this TV we had some pretty big hitters which are available for the same price, and the LG had the poorest black levels -- even compared with the LCDs. Though the Sharp doesn't claim any form of backlight dimming, its black levels were deeper by a noticeable amount. While this was most apparent in dark scenes, it also meant that the LG's pictures lacked depth in comparison. Poor black levels show up in mixed scenes and can make them lack solidity compared with what you see on a good TV like the ST60.

Shadow detail is not a problem for this display, though, as despite its very poor black levels it is capable of showing shadow gradations in darker material very well. In the hilltop scene of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" (Chapter 12 on the DVD) you can clearly see that there are figures on the hill -- something that all of the other plasmas also did well. The Vizio LCD played peekaboo with the images for the first 6 seconds until it got quite close to Voldemort's face and then brightness shot up sudddenly. While the Sharp also obscured the figures a little it didn't have quite the same jarring dimming effect.

Color accuracy: Apart from shadow detail, the LG's other strength is color, with deep, concentrated tones visible with most material. Take "The Tree of Life" as an example: at the start of Chapter 5 (37:18) the mother is lounging on the lawn and the LG delivered youthful skin tones and lush grass. The next shot of a yellow lamp against blue twilight was also rendered with naturalness and vibrancy.

Of all the TVs in the lineup, the PH6700 most closely matched the Sharp LE650, which was also notable for its color accuracy. For example, both the Sharp and LG were able to render the sunburnt grass, pale blue sky, and red uniforms of Bones and Kirk as they leave the Starfleet Academy in future San Francisco in the 2009 "Star Trek" movie (29:44).

The combination of "true" colors and good shadow detail meant the LG was able to perform well in the "pinecone of death" flyby from the same film (Ch. 4) where the low-level color detail in the depths of the Romulan ship was easily visible. The PH6700 was on a par with the rest of this excellent field on this count.

Video processing: Video processing is another area where LG traditionally does well, and there were no disappointments there with the PH6700. The television was able to correctly parse the 1080i film test with no flicker in test pattern and no moire in the slow pan of the sports stands. Likewise, the plasma correctly displayed the 24p content of our "I Am Legend" test scene.

Bright lighting: The PH6700 has a glossy screen and due to that in combination with no bright-light filter it was the second-poorest in our lit-room test after the Samsung F5500. While the Samsung has the worst bright-room picture I've seen in years, the LG was better by a little, with brownish blacks and medium reflectivity.

Sound quality: Given the company's association with industry "guru" Mark Levinson in the past you'd expect a flagship plasma to feature quality sound, and it does. The LG proved itself to be best of the tvs in our test lineup with articulate bass and plenty of detail during Nick Cave's "Red Right Hand." You would still need to buy a dedicated speaker system if you are a serious music listener, of course. In comparison, the ST60 sounded more present but its bass was even fartier than Austin Powers' Fat Bastard.

With movies the LG was equally impressive for the price, with clear dialogue and deep(ish) bass effects. While the Sharp LE650 had more "twinkle," which transpired as more-intelligible speech, the LG had more depth to its sound.

Power consumption: As a large-screen plasma you've got to expect that the PH6700 is pretty power-hungry, and it does OK. In a year of using this screen you would expect to pay around $60 in electricity.

Read more about how we test TVs.

Juice box
LG 60PH6700 Picture settings
Default Calibrated
Picture on (watts) 0.15 0.15
Picture on (watts/sq. inch)    
Standby (watts) 298.37 270.46
Cost per year $65.53 $59.41
Score (considering size) Poor
Score (overall) Good

Geek box: Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.013 Average
Avg. gamma (10-100%) 2.24 Good
Avg. grayscale error (10-100%) 1.600 Good
Near-black error (5%) 0.721 Good
Dark-gray error (20%) 0.936 Good
Bright-gray error (70%) 1.306 Good
Avg. color error 2.340 Good
Red error 2.453 Good
Green error 2.806 Good
Blue error 1.419 Good
Cyan error 2.999 Good
Magenta error 1.772 Good
Yellow error 2.589 Good
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Pass Good
1080i Deinterlacing (film) Pass Good
Motion resolution (max) 800 Average
Motion resolution (dejudder off) 800 Average
Input lag (Game mode) 72.7 Average

LG 60PH6700 calibration notes


LG 60PH6700

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 6Value 8