LG 50PK550 Review

Model: LG 50PK550
Description: 50" HD Plasma TV
Resolution: 1920 X 1080
Power Consumption: Not Listed
Summer 2010

LG 50PK550 Review
Colorful shot from the Blu Ray version of Predator shows good detail and contrast

The 50PK550 is a middle tier 2010 plasma TV offering from LG that includes some nice features and calibration options while leaving off Internet connectivity, 3D compatibility and the best video processing.

Test and Optimum Viewing Distance: 12

Picture Calibration:

LG 50PK550 Review
There is considerable and inconsistent color shift at varying brightness levels in the PK550 plasma TV as shown in these shots of a split gray scale during calibration. The color shift will show up during viewing content especially in light and white content.

There are exceptional fine tuning calibration controls on the 50PK550 which is unusual for a TV of this price and feature point. For example there is a 20 point white balance control. Aside from color shift, a professional calibrator can use these controls. However, the average user may not do themselves any favors. The easiest solution? Follow our calibrated picture setting instructions. And make sure to turn the Sharpness down.

LG 50PK550 Review
A white house in Risky Business shows how color can be introduced in various ways with a TV that contains a color shift problem.

With 480i DVD content I felt the colors were subdued and the picture a little darker than I liked even though we had contrast at 98%. There was good depth in the picture due to the plasma glass (which also yielded glare) so this TV will be best used in a room with not too much ambient light. Nasty motion artifacts were introduced in facial features in Fargo prior to turning down the Sharpness control.

With HD content, the PK550 yielded a much better picture and depth continued to improve. Color rendition was also much richer with the 1080i signal. You will not get away from the color shift issue with this plasma TV no matter what the image. If a white house leans toward pink the effect will be multiplied with the PK500.

LG 50PK550 Review
A clear shot from Predator shows off the TVs depth quality. Glare and depth are two competing elements of the same coin.

Glare and depth are two competing elements with this plasma TV. The clear glass face allows for excellent depth, while the screen glare is a constant. The PK550 series plasmas use LG's "Skin Glass" which is designed to reduce internal reflections. Unfortunately, this does not seem to impact glare on the outside viewing the PK550 as the TV displayed considerable glare. While this is the case with many plasma TVs, it causes us to recommend this TV more for low light rooms with little ambient background light.

Black Level/Contrast/Contrast Ratio: Black level was very good at our post calibration settings though we didnt think the PK550 excelled at dark shadow detail. Post calibration checkerboard contrast measured a fairly impressive 1850:1. Interestingly, this was almost 900:1 greater than contrast with the inbuilt Picture Wizard technology.

LG 50PK550 Review
This HD shot from Blue Planet shows off solid black performance – a bright spot in a low light rooom.

Color information is subdued but comes through fine. However, color accuracy suffers in white and light scenes due to constant color shift with varying degrees of brightness. This is a constant theme for this TV.

Viewing Angle/Off Axis Viewing: No problem.

LG 50PK550 Review
There is no problem with off axis/side angle viewing as with most plasma TVs. This shot from Fargo came through fine at a severe 35 degrees off center.

LG 50PK550 Review
Screen glare is another matter. There is little anti glare technology included in this display.

Motion Lag: Of course, there is little to no motion lag or blur during side to side panning or fast motion. However, you will see something that appears as motion artifacts if you do not tune down the Sharpness controls to 20% or less.

False contouring or colors showing banding didn't appear to be a problem however it's extremely important to calibrate the sharpness controls down to 20% or less.

Features: Intelligent Sensor. This can be a convenient feature. It is limited though on the brighter light side since the TV is limited there. We calibrated the TV at 98% contrast. In a darker room it's not really important either, so though the technology is pretty cool, it doesn't practically do much for you on the PK550 since the TV doesn't have great brightness.

Video Aspect Ratio Sizing: 16:9, Cinema 1, 4:3, Set by Program.

Inputs: 3 HDMI, 1 RGB PC, 1 RS232, 1 component, 1 USB, no Ethernet or other Internet connectivity.

Aesthetic Considerations: The PK550 is a great looking black gloss TV with a 2" depth and 1 inch bezel frame on the sides. The top bezel frame is 1 and half inches. The included swivel table top stand is also black gloss and swivels to about 20 degrees left to right. My one complaint with the appearance of the TV is the gray screen when the TV is off. I prefer a black screen.

Remote Control/Menu Funtionality: This is an area of solid strength for the PK550. The Menu is easy to navigate and simple to understand. It's also easy to see with a big display and in color. There is a Q.Menu button as well to allow quick access to Aspect ratio, Picture Mode, and Sound Mode features. The remote control is logically laid out with big buttons with a backlight. It's also attractive and ergonomically sound.

LG 50PK550 Review

Audio Output and quality was very impressive in the 50PK550 a noted improvement over prior LG models. Even at 10% we could still hear the inbuilt speakers discernibly well from 10 feet. Clear Voice II seemed to work much better than the prior Clear Voice feature. Mid range was was noticeably boosted to enhance voice frequency, so we felt the feature worked well. Rarely have we tested a TV that concentrated on such powerful volume output and especially in the high to mid range. The sound quality does present a hollow and slightly tinny character at times.

The PK550 contains an auto volume feature that provides a constant volume level no matter what the content (think annoying ads).

Price is a possible reason to purchase this TV. If you want good, sleek looks, and some exceptional value in the menu system and remote control in a 50" TV and are not concerned with top notch picture quality, then the $1100 average price for the LG 50PK550 might be your workhorse. Competition comes from the Panasonic TC-P50S2 and the Samsung PN50C6500 which costs slightly more, but for a better picture. Plasma TVs generally represent much better value in the 50 to 60" range than do LCD/LED TVs.

Rating scale from 70 (denoting poorest quality) to 100 (signifying the very best quality). Picture quality is double-weighted in the Overall Rating Score calculation.

LG 50PK550 Specifications


Review Equipment Used: Sony Blu Ray BDP-S1 High Definition DVD player, Sony DVP-S50 DVD player (480i), Digital Broadcast Television, Sencore Color Pro 5000, Sencore Auto Cal Pro TWC6500, Sencore signal generator.

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