LG Electronics 50PY3DF Plasma HDTV
At a Glance
Though not as good a performer as other units in its size category, this TV is well-designed and enticingly priced.
LG's 50PY3DF is well-designed and inexpensive. This 50-inch plasma HDTV performed near the average in our tests, earning an overall score of Good.
Color quality on standard- and high-definition scenes was strong, and brightness and contrast results were okay. Skin tones in a George Lopez Show segment and in a talk show seemed fairly realistic, though jurors noticed some pixelation. A standard-definition broadcast of a San Francisco Giants game produced balanced, nicely saturated oranges and greens. The set showed good detail in dark areas of a Lord of the Rings scene.
Among the many connections the LG 50PY3DF offers are three HDMI inputs (some premium sets, such as the Pioneer Kuro PDP-5010FD, have four). A USB port on left side of the 50PY3DF lets you attach a flash-card reader or a thumb drive and display a photo slide show on the TV. The remote allows you to control the slide-show settings and advance the photos manually.
The TV swivels after you loosen a tiny bolt in the back of the TV; the swiveling mechanisms on TVs such as the Samsung FP-T5084 are less awkward to use. Just above the bolt on the LG set is a thick removable plastic half loop to keep cables bundled together. The TV's display settings buttons are invisible until you lightly press a touch-sensitive pad on the lower right-hand side of the TV beneath the bezel--a novel and visually arresting feature.
A fairly well-organized on-screen display menu lets you adjust the TV's many settings, which include individual red, green, and blue controls under the color temperature submenu. Color presets for Dynamic, Standard, and Mild adjust contrast, brightness, and vividness. I found Dynamic to be the most eye-catching setting, but colors were artificially saturated; the other two settings seemed more life-like. Two additional User modes let you program your own custom TV presets. You can access all of these settings through the TV's touch pad or via the remote. The remote control has no backlight, and its buttons--some arranged in a rectangular grid and some in an arc--seem cramped. However, they did aid me in getting around the extensive OSD menu.
The built-in speakers are installed on the sides of the TV, making the panel somewhat wider than on other TVs of the same size. Nonetheless, it may be a good compromise, because the speakers produced rich sounds in scenes from Phantom of the Opera. LG offers a two-year parts and labor warranty, twice as long as that of any other vendor whose set we tested.
The LG 50PY3DF's many strengths and features, including good speakers and a reasonable price, may help it find it a place on the TV stands of some homes despite its middle-of-the-road performance.