LG PZ550 50" 3D Plasma HDTV


The LG PZ550 3D Plasma HDTV In Use

Having set up the PZ550 in our family room, I was able to make use of the TV as my primary display during the review. The LG replaced my Panasonic G25 plasma set, of which I have been very happy with except for the fact that it exhibits a buzzing sound that is usually only audible when the room is quiet. Since this was my first plasma TV, and my friend also has a Panasonic plasma with the same buzzing sound, I figured it must be a side effect inherent in the technology and most likely, all plasma TV’s suffered the same issue. This however, turned out to not be the case as when I initially fired up the LG and throughout my viewing time with it, I never once heard any sort of buzzing coming from this set.

A couple other general comments about my experience with the LG are related to the remote and overall usability. First off, the remote included with the TV is very unresponsive. You really have to be pointing directing at the TV and even then the buttons on it to access the menu are a bit sticky and unresponsive. The second thing that bothered me was the classic problem almost always associated with plasma TV’s and that is room glare and reflections on the glass front. Panasonic has done a terrific job at adding an anti-reflective coating to their latest sets that really cuts down on glare. The LG didn’t seem to have any such coating and thus daytime viewing was definitely hampered. If your room is brightly lit with lots of windows, then I probably wouldn’t recommend this TV. However, images at night on the calibrated ISF Expert mode were stunning.

One thing that I found very odd was the inability to select ISF Expert Mode when viewing 3D content. I am not sure the reasoning behind this, and I suspect the answer is very technical, but I was very sad to switch over to 3D mode, and have the LG switch from ISF Expert to Vivid mode. My calibrated settings made normal 2D content so enjoyable to watch, that I was excited to see how 3D would look. It was quite a bummer to not have this option. Instead I watched 3D content in either Standard or Cinema mode.

Plasma is often recommended for sports fans because of its high refresh rate and lack of motion blur and I will say that after watching some football on the PZ550, it looked marvelous and I too, would recommend this TV for the sports fan. Colors were accurate and motion was crisp without any of that artificial “creative frame creation” seen on most LCD TVs. The blacks in the Pittsburgh Steeler’s helmets were dark, without crushing any shadow detail.

The Dark Knight looked absolutely fantastic on the calibrated ISF mode. About as much depth to the image as you could get from a mere 2 dimensions. Colors were very natural and the amount of detail in the 70mm shots was beautiful. Switching to some of the picture modes like standard yielded a brighter, but overly saturated picture (and don’t even get me started on Vivid mode.. shudder!). The default ISF Expert Mode is very good, but I was floored by how natural the image looked after proper calibration.

Towards the end of my review period, my cable provider was kind enough to release several movies in the 3D format via OnDemand. I did not hesitate to load up the wonderful movie Tangled, and check out its beautiful animation in 3D. Although the cable box does not provide full 1080p resolution in 3D like Blu-ray, and instead uses side-by-side images squeezed into the same frame, I was shocked at how good it still looked. The image was sharp, detailed, and free of macroblocking and compression artifacts. I never saw Tangled in the theater, just in regular 2D Blu-ray, so this was my first time seeing it in 3D and I really enjoyed it. I have been a critic of this whole 3D fad since the beginning, but after having a 3D display at home, I will now say that I wouldn’t mind experiencing more 3D content at home. Since Tangled is a fairly bright and colorful movie, most scenes looked very good, with nice depth and only occasional ghosting. However, when the ghosting did appear it was very poor and distracting. The scene where the two love birds are out on the water at night, watching the lanterns float away, was hard to watch due to ghosting.

Avatar has been the benchmark for 3D since it was released in the theaters, and I was floored when I saw it available On Demand. I wasn’t quite as impressed with the LG’s 3D performance with Avatar, as the ghosting was very straining on my eyes and led to a less than optimal experience.

Megamind, on the other hand, looked fantastic and I could tell this movie was created with 3D in mind. This was the best looking piece of 3D material I got to view on the PZ550 and pretty much sold me on eventually investing in 3D technology.

I was also able to fire up Killzone 3 on my Playstation 3 and give it a shot. Unfortunately, it left me frustrated as there was just too much ghosting going on for my eyes to properly focus on the 3D image. It was just so close to being a true immersive experience and something that really added to the gaming experience.

I gave Tron Legacy 3D a quick spin and felt that the 3D just didn’t add much to the movie, although the overall image quality on the LG was pretty good.

LG included the IMAX Under the Sea 3D Blu-ray disc with the review equipment so I also gave that quick look. I remember not enjoying it on the LW5600 LCD set as a result of its film pattern retarded and the “creative frame creation” feature that could not be disabled. Overall, it just had a very artificial look to it and lack of detail in the busy textures of the sea floor. On the PZ550 this movie was an entirely different experience. I actually found myself watching most of the movie because the 3D was more natural, detail was off the charts, and motion was smooth and lifelike.

Since the LG includes the ability to “convert” 2D to 3D viewing, I decided I should probably give it a try. Even with my very low expectations, I still turned the feature off after about 3 minutes of viewing the US Open. The feature is just not ready for prime time.

For the gamers out there, I tested out Call of Duty Black Ops on the LG’s “Game” picture mode and noticed absolutely no lag. The images looked great and I would definitely recommend this TV to anyone that wants a cheap 50” gaming display.