LG 50PK750 Plasma HDTV Review
By: Brian Kahn,
HTR Product Rating
- 4 Stars
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- 4 Stars
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So is the LG 50PK750 just another pretty face? It does not matter to me, nor I suspect to most of your reading this, if the television has an attractive industrial design if its performance capabilities or feature set do not measure up. As part of LG's Infinia series and LG's top, non-3D plasma, the $1,400 50PK750 is fairly well loaded. The specifications provided by LG for the 50PK750 include 1080p resolution capable of receiving 1080p/24 fps signals; 3,000,000:1 dynamic contrast, brightness capability of 1500 cd/m2, a 100,000-hour life span, 600Hz Sub-field driving and a pair of two-way speakers driven by 10 Watts each. More interesting is the lengthy features list which includes: THX certification, ISF calibration modes, Image Sticking Minimization, Protective Skin Glass (which reduces the depth between the layers of glass by 70 percent thereby reducing glare and double images caused by reflections), Dual XD engine (LGs video processor), Wireless ready, DLNA capability and NetCast. NetCast is LG's Internet connectivity package, which includes Vudu, Netflix, YouTube, Yahoo Widgets, Picasa and more.
I installed the base assembly that comes with the 50PK750. Installation was a simple matter of laying the TV down and installing a few screws to connect the base to the TV itself. Once connected the base allows for the TV to be manually rotated. I did not install the optional wi-fi dongle or wireless media receiver kit. Nonetheless, the wireless media kit deserves mention. The kit retails for under $400 and accepts 1080p signals for wireless transmission. This is a boon for those who cannot easily run new wires to their televisions. Other vendors sell wireless HDMI transmission kits for a $1,000 but with the LG you can get this functionality for much less.
Connectivity options are aplenty with four HDMI 1.3 ports and two component, composite and USB inputs. There are also RF (for internal ATSC, NTSC and Clear-QAM tuners), and PC (no S-video) inputs present. Other connectivity includes RS-232 and Ethernet although the RS-232 is for service connections only, not control. For this review I made all my connections with HDMI, Component video and Ethernet cables.
I began my review with an Oppo Digital BDP-83SE and also used a BDP-95, which was received just as I was finishing my evaluation. Connections were made directly between the source and the television with Kimber HDMI cables. For comparison purposes I also used my Marantz VP-11S2 which projects onto a 100-inch diagonal Stewart Filmscreen StudioTek 100 screen.
After setting up NetCast and casual viewing for a few days I began experimenting with the LG's settings. There are three AV modes, which set both audio and video settings, plus nine video modes including multiple THX and ISF modes. ISF modes allow for numerous advanced calibration options which should allow the pickiest calibrator to get the set dialed in to their satisfaction. The THX Cinema mode was my favorite mode straight out of the box. There are also a variety of sound modes, although I suspect that most users will forego the television's built-in speakers in favor of more substantial external speakers.
The 50PK750 comes with LG's 'Picture Wizard' which is a system that guides the user in basic calibration. The wizard helped some, but I wanted to further refine the picture so I ran some calibration tools from the new Disney WOW disc. I can easily recommend this disc to anyone who is new to calibration and wants to improve the performance level of their television. The interface could be clunky at times and the instructions repetitive for those who have used other calibration discs but it is extremely self explanatory and easy to use, making it a good choice for those new to video calibration. After running through the WOW disc my settings were slightly different than with using the Picture Wizard and for the better. I should note that the aspect ratio setting "Just Scan" eliminated overscan with 16:9 images and was my preferred setting. It is important to note this, especially if you are using HDMI connected sources as the unit defaults to its "16:9" which does not provide accurate pixel mapping on any of the test patterns I tried.
I began by playing with the NetCast capabilities, as the older plasma that I own does not have this capability so I was excited to check it out. The first time I used the widgets the television took a bit of time to load settings, during which I was unable to access any other input. The widgets and Netflix were what I used the most. The widgets were easy to use and provided quick, easy access to limited information. I preferred the Netflix interface on my PS3 but I could quickly get used to LG's implementation and never had any difficulty watching videos. Needless to say, the video quality did not test the 50PK750's limits but it was watchable for catching up on old television shows or very casual movie viewing.