Not everyone has the space for a 50-inch TV, but those that do should certainly make use of it. If you're in the market for a TV with a very large screen but a sensible price tag, LG's high-end, 1080p 50PS6000 plasma TV could be the set for you.
What makes this TV really stand out is its price -- it's available for less than £900 online. For such a massive piece of home-cinema awesomeness, that's a pretty decent deal. Of course, at that price, there's a risk that this TV won't perform as well as a Panasonic or Samsung plasma, both of which tend to cost significantly more. Still, we like to keep an open mind, so let's find out how this bad boy performs.
The 50PS6000 is a serious piece of kit. From the moment you haul it out of its box, you can tell it means business. There's a 50-inch solid glass screen at the front, which gives the panel a striking look. A tinge of blue at the edges of the screen makes the TV look quite futuristic, in the right light.
As with all recent LG TVs, the remote control is well-designed. It's a good shape, size and weight, and it does the job of controlling the TV excellently. The TV's menu system is also fantastic. The menus are clear, well-written and presented in an attractive style. LG has really led the way in this regard, and it's only quite recently that other manufacturers have started to catch up.
Freeview and Blu-ray
We've long maintained that plasmas have the edge over LCD sets when it comes to Freeview picture quality. They generally seem to handle standard-definition pictures better, and there's something about the technology that makes it good with compressed digital TV. We're happy to report that the 50PS6000 is no exception, and Freeview -- for the most part -- looks terrific.
The only exceptions are when very low bit rates are used for transmission, or the programme is old. Certain 4:3 US-import TV shows can look particularly horrendous, but that will only be a concern if you spend your daytimes watching ITV2.
As we hoped, Blu-ray video at a 1080p resolution looks super. The 50PS6000 isn't the sharpest TV we've ever seen, but it provides more than enough detail to impress anyone who loves movies. We used our top-quality test disc, Casino Royale, and were impressed by the quality of the opening black and white scene. The TV also held its own during the beautiful opening titles, which were as bright and colourful as we've come to expect.
This TV is not, however, well-configured out of the box. The 'vivid' picture mode is a disaster -- unless you like ludicrous, unnatural colours and entirely too much brightness. The best advice we can give is to turn the colour, brightness and contrast down to around 50 per cent. This will give you a much more natural picture.
We've touched on the topic of image retention with LG plasma TVs before, but it's worth mentioning again. During initial use of the 50PS6000, we noticed a not-insignificant amount of image retention caused by its own menus and our set-up test patterns. Image retention is not permanent, however, and it doesn't mean your TV is broken. It's especially common to see it early on in a plasma TV's life, and, for that reason, you should avoid leaving static images on the screen during the first 100 hours of the panel's life.
It's also worth mentioning that the 50PS6000 has a series of patterns that will remove retained images from the screen. If you find yourself staring at an after-image, just hop into the menus and leave one of these patterns on for a short while. That should have everything looking tip-top soon enough.
Black level and picture noise
Plasmas are well known for two attributes. The first is their good black levels, particularly when compared to CCFL-backlit LCD TVs. The second, less positive, characteristic is that they can often have 'sparkling' pixels.