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So far, although it's sailed close to the wind a couple of times, I haven't been able to dig up any really damning dirt on the 42PG6900, raising hopes that it's going to impress me at least as much as - if not more than - LG's first Freeview+ TVs. But unfortunately it loses its way slightly at the picture quality hurdle.
There are a number of reasons I found myself feeling a tad non-plussed by the 42PG6900's image quality, starting with its colour tone. For while its pictures are actually very bright and vibrant by normal plasma standards, the colours on show are tonally very hit and miss, with regular occurrences of unnaturally over-wrought skin tones, slightly dingy looking greens, over-aggressive reds, and tinges of green undertone during dark scenes. Colours also suffer a little with a once-common plasma flaw of visible colour stripes where there should be smooth blends.
Dark scenes, meanwhile, reveal a pretty severe price to pay for the image's strong colour brightness in the form of obvious image retention. By this I mean that if a bright image element such as a channel logo or racing game car dial has been in the same position on the screen for any length of time and you then cut to a predominantly dark scene, you can clearly make out a ghostly ‘shadow' of the earlier bright image element that can hang around for a surprisingly long time.
I haven't seen any evidence to suggest that the TV is susceptible to permanent ‘screen burn' in the same way older plasmas used to be, and the retention problem should diminish after 100 hours or so of use. But it was certainly an occasionally distracting flaw during our tests, and one that other plasma makers seem to have more or less abolished now.
Another problem is that the 42PG6900's standard definition pictures aren't too hot. I noted a distinct improvement in LG's handling of standard definition with the LT75 range, but here I couldn't help but notice how plasticky and unnaturally smooth people's skin tends to look, and how horizontal motion can sometimes result in slight dotting noise - something which again used to be common on plasma screens but which really ought not to be kicking around today.
Standard definition sources do at least look passably sharp and video noise is well controlled, especially with Freeview channels. But somehow I just wasn't quite as taken with standard def in this plasma incarnation as I was with the earlier LCD incarnation.
Turning to things the 42PG6900 does right, its HD pictures are surprisingly sharp and detailed considering the set is not a Full HD model. There's perhaps a touch more noise in them than you might see with the very best Full HD models, but there's never any doubt that you're watching HD images.