The 50PY3D ($2,999.95) was one of LG's first 1080p plasma HDTVs. LG has since released newer plasmas and archived this model on the LG website, but you can still find the 50PY3D through a number of online retailers. This 50-inch TV has a healthy connection panel that includes three HDMI, two component video and one PC input, plus a single RF input to access the internal NTSC, ATSC and Clear-QAM tuners. Both the HDMI and component inputs accept 1080p/60 and 1080p/24. Neither a program guide nor picture-in-picture functionality is included. The back panel offers both RS-232 and IR ports to integrate the TV into an advanced control system and the side-panel USB port allows for MP3/JPEG playback.
The video menu doesn't have as many advanced adjustments as some of LG's newer, higher-end plasmas, like the 50PG60, but the major bases are covered. You get five picture modes and four color temperature options, including a user mode through which you can fine-tune the global red, green and blue settings to achieve a more accurate white balance. There is an option to enable LG's XD processing, with contrast, color and noise settings. The menu also offers several features to prevent and counteract the effects of image retention, a common plasma concern. The five aspect ratio choices include a Set by Program mode that automatically determines the correct aspect ratio; however, there's no mode for viewing 1080i/1080p sources with no overscan.
The 50PY3D has side-panel speakers and the audio set-up menu features five sound modes, with a user mode through which you can adjust treble and bass and choose between 3D EchoSound and SRS TruSurround XT surround modes. There's also an Auto Volume feature to even out level disparities.
• The 50PY3D is capable of rendering a generally attractive picture with both HD and SD sources, provided you take some time to set it up correctly.
• The HDMI, component and PC inputs accept 1080p, which gives you a lot of flexibility.
• Plasmas do not suffer from motion blur or viewing angle issues.
• The 50PY3D's black level and overall contrast aren't as good as the better plasmas on the market, so the image lacks some richness and depth.
• This TV lacks a zero-overscan aspect ratio, and it does not offer many of the advanced image adjustments you'll find in higher-end models from LG and other manufacturers.
• Plasmas generally aren't as bright as LCDs and therefore are not the best choice for a really bright room.
LG's 50PY3D offers generally good performance and a nice collection of 1080p-capable inputs. It's not as fully featured or high-performing as the best plasmas on the market; however, since it is now an archived product, you can find it at a reasonable price.