Plasma TVs are always refreshing to review, as the ratio of LCDs to plasma is anyways askew in the HDTV market. Besides all the technical differences, there is a difference in the picture output, and it is especially important to check out a brand like LG that still manufactures both types of HDTVs: LCDs and Plasma. We have LG's new series called the 42PG61, which comes with a fancy design and a promise to deliver ‘crystal clear’ images. That we will see...
Design and Features
After the Scarlet and the Jazz, LG has come up with more ideas for aesthetic beauty. These plasma TVs have no real frame around the screen, rather it's a seamless transition from panel to bezel, with a glass on top, thus having a very smooth and original looking screen. The black bezel is also very narrow in the front, thus making the TV look ultra sleek. The sides of this frameless screen is a continuous silver metallic strip, adding to the subtle, futuristic look. Then we have a regular back panel with grilles exposing the anatomy of the TV and a small, neat connection window on the right at the bottom.
The connections available are plentiful, with 3 HDMI 1.3a inputs, 2 component ins, PC input (Mini D-Sub), composite ins( 3 in total), plus the all important USB 2.0 input. One point needs mention here: the USB can play MP3s, JPEGS and also Div X, MPEG 4 movies. There is no headphone out, and it comes with inbuilt stereo regular speakers that output 15 watts of power each at their loudest.
The unit is actually a heavy 35 Kg machine along with its oval stand, but due to the glossy finish and sleek frameless glassy screen, it looks much lighter. It’s a 42-inch screen, with native resolution of 1024 x 768, which is typical of 42-inch plasma screens. The brightness is 1500 Cd/m2 and contrast ratio is 30,000:1 dynamic. (LG is famous for having some over the top numbers in specs; I wonder how they measure them.)
We connected the TV to a PS3, Xbox and our HTPC. The first mission was to try and calibrate the unit, so we ran test patterns from software. Our initial tests were for grayscale, meaning only black and white levels. I was disappointed. The black levels were hardly accurate. The last few black bars of our pattern merged together, and this was after raising brightness to optimum level. Plus this is a plasma, the blacks are supposed to be good. There is one test with 2 blacker than black bars moving from side to side on a O IRE( black screen), and these were not discernable at all.
In the full white zone, things were better. We raised the contrast pretty high and received a nice setting after calibrating, one with no clipping and blooming of whites, though it just was not spectacular, if taken in comparison. The grayscale had no colorations. It was pure levels of black to white throughout the graph mostly around 6500 K, and this is a good thing. It helps in having natural looking images.
Colors were also good, and in a basic 50-55 setting on the menu the colors looked the most natural, and desirably saturated. They were not too deep, probably because of this TV’s dark level problems.
Moving images in 720p were obviously the best, as that is closest to the native resolution. We were watching The Incredible Hulk and Pan’s Labyrinth. There was the PWM noise that some plasmas have, basically it’s a noisy flickering sometime visible on pixels, due to the way plasmas are powered.
A problem I had was with the menu itself. There is'nt much setting or tweaking we can do, except basic color, contrast etc. The presets are blinding, too much contrast settings in them - I think user setting is best with some calibration. Another issue was the sharpness setting on the menu. If you increase it anywhere above 50, haloing results around tiny objects. It needs to be kept low.
In total, this TV has its share of complaints and flaws, though it does have an incredible aesthetic design and some very nice color reproduction. It costs Rs. 65,000 (MRP), but on compareindia.com it's quoted as low as Rs. 45000. The price is reasonable if it's available for that less, as this is still a 42-inch screen, and a decent HD ready TV, but not the best plasma TV reproduction.
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