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Turning now to the screen’s key specifications, we find a pretty standard native resolution of 1,366 x 768 and a far from standard claimed contrast ratio of 15,000:1. This is a remarkably high figure and promises precisely the sort of combination of dynamic colours and, above all, deep black levels that we love to see on a TV.
Also boding well for the 50PB65’s chances are its use of Faroudja’s renowned DCDi image processing – a deinterlacing system known to significantly reduce the appearance of jaggedness over contoured edges in the picture. Plus you get LG’s proprietary XD Engine video processing with its focus on improving noise levels, brightness, contrast, clarity and motion. And last but not least the 50PB65 sports 100Hz processing, which doubles the usual 50Hz frame rate in order to make motion look smoother and crisper.
This is the first time we’ve seen 100Hz on a plasma TV and to be honest we’re not sure we entirely see the point of it. After all, while 100Hz can certainly considerably improve the appearance of motion with LCD technology, plasma technology doesn’t suffer with LCD’s serious motion reproduction issues. In fact, given that some 100Hz engines can actually throw up pretty unpleasant processing side effects, we can’t help but be worried that the inclusion of 100Hz on the 50PB65 might actually make its pictures worse rather than better.
One final trick up the 50PB65’s sleeve is something called Clear Filter Pro. Like Pioneer’s Direct Colour Filter technology, Clear Filter Pro replaces the usual thick glass panel frontispiece of traditional plasma TVs with a thin filter arrangement to: a) do away with the secondary image you can often see when viewing traditional screens off axis; and b) reduce onscreen reflections (by as much as 30 per cent according to LG’s press blurb).
For a screen that talks such an impressive talk, the 50PB65’s pictures have to class as a real disappointment – especially as we’re witnessing them soon after seeing some stellar plasma efforts from Samsung and Panasonic.
Particularly galling is the screen’s relative lack of black level depth. Dark scenes, like pretty much any part of the aptly named The Darkness on the Xbox 360, are beset by a grey pallor over everything that’s supposed to look black. Not surprisingly this doesn’t help the picture look particularly believable or dynamic, plus it tends to flatten dark scenes out and hide background details.
This is hardly what we’d expect to see from a TV claiming a 15,000:1 contrast ratio and it proves once again that manufacturers’ specification claims really do sometimes have to be treated with a hefty pinch of salt.