LG Electronics 42PC1DA
At a Glance
LG Electronics 42PC1DA
This beauty delivers great sound and image quality, and ports are easy to identify and reach--but it all adds up on the bill.
We're not going to lie to you: You could very nearly buy two identically sized bargain plasmas for the price of one LG 42PC1DA plasma HDTV. Its price of $3000 (as of 6/6/06) is nearly twice that of some 42-inchers we've seen in the PC World Test Center. But plasma enthusiasts would do well at least test-drive the LG. Hands-down, it had the best-looking screen of any plasma we've tested recently, according to our test jury. For the average popcorn-munching TV watcher, it may not be worth the steep price--but if you demand a top-notch picture, you'll want to check this one out personally.
The LG 42PC1DA is a luxury TV in every respect. From its sleek, glossy black case to the smooth curves of its base, this HDTV commands attention even when it's turned off. But power it up and you'll find your eyes dazzled by the display itself. The LG outpaced every other TV we tested, in almost every category. The set received its highest marks for color quality, particularly showing off the vibrant reds and greens in a scene from the Seabiscuit DVD that we use for testing. Brightness and contrast were also exceptional: The set is rated as being 25 percent brighter than most other TVs right out of the box, and a little tweaking boosts this differential even more. Bottom line: Whether viewing DVD video, high-definition, or standard-definition content, the LG was our go-to model for crisp detail and spot-on color.
Setting up the LG 42PC1DA is a piece of cake, much easier than the setup of budget models such as the Maxent MX-42HPM20. Ports are horizontally placed, clearly labeled, and spaced widely apart. Accessing them to plug in components is quick and easy, and the set has copious input options for all types of devices. My only complaint concerned the set's lack of a DVI input: When inputting video through HDMI (without audio), you have to use a miniplug audio jack to bring in the audio track, the same type used by your computer. This means that if you're bringing in audio from a set-top box, you'll need an RCA-to-miniplug converter cable. I would much rather use standard RCA cables to attach to one of the four other RCA audio jacks, which I can't imagine by a typical user would normally fill with stereo gear.
Still, that's a minor quibble about an otherwise excellent set. You can quickly and efficiently manage the TV through its menus, and the sophisticated menu setup allows for deep configuration options. The adaptive picture mode splits the screen into four panes, each showing how the video looks through a different video setting. This makes testing different video modes much more intuitive: You can see side by side how a different color or brightness setting will impact the picture, without lots of trial and error.
LG doesn't skimp on its speakers either--they offer rich sound. Even the remote control is well organized and easy to navigate. The manual spends a bit too much space outlining the integrated TV Guide system rather than explaining basic features, but that's a minor quibble. If you can get over the sticker shock, you'll find the 42PC1DA as impressive as they come.