The post Christmas bargain frenzy continues. For hot on the heels of the crazily inexpensive Toshiba 40TL968B, today we’re faced with a 50in plasma TV from LG that amazingly undercuts even the 40in Toshiba’s £455 price. Yes, that’s right: at the time of writing the LG 50PA650T can be yours for the astonishing sum of £449.
Inevitably this price comes with strings attached in feature terms, so let’s cover the biggest of these right away. First, the set doesn’t have any form of 3D playback. Second and perhaps more alarmingly, the TV doesn’t provide access to LG’s increasingly excellent online Smart TV platform. You’re thus denied direct access to all the video streaming services LG’s Smart TV service carries, such as LoveFilm, Netflix, Acetrax and the BBC iPlayer.
Next, the TV doesn’t support playback of multimedia files from networked DLNA PCs; the LAN port carried by the TV is there purely to support the set’s built-in Freeview HD tuner.
However, the Freeview HD tuner is itself arguably something you might not have expected to find for so small a price. And now we’re in a more positive frame of mind, let’s add to the ‘unexpected goodies’ list playback of multimedia content from USB devices, a Full HD native pixel count, a strikingly high claimed contrast ratio of 3,000,000:1, a surprisingly slim design - in both bezel width and rear depth terms - and 600Hz sub-field driving for enhanced motion clarity and fluidity.
The 50PA650T’s connections are fair too within the limitation that, as already noted, there’s no online or DLNA network support. There are three HDMIs, the inevitable component video port, a D-Sub PC port, an RS-232 control port, and a single USB slot.
Delving into the 50PA650T’s onscreen menus, there’s a surprise in the shape of two ISF picture presets. Designed to store adjustments made by engineers from the Imaging Science Foundation should you pay to get one round, these modes also alert you to the 50PA650’s carriage of a strong range of picture settings, including colour and gamma management. This sort of flexibility is highly unusual for a TV as ridiculously affordable as the 50PA650T.
Also impressive is how good the 50PA650T’s presets are. The Cinema one, in particular, is a great ‘out of the box’ option for people not willing to explore the set’s calibration features.
Some of the plasmas from Samsung and Panasonic this year have reminded us of just what an AV force plasma continues to be, at least in performance terms. And in its own way, the 50PA650T follows the trend.
To be clear, we’re not implying that the 50PA650T is as good as Samsung and Panasonic’s star models. It isn’t. What it certainly is, though, is exceptionally - almost stupidly - good for a 50in TV that can be yours for under £450.
For instance, while the 50PA650T's black levels don’t get close to those of the best Samsung and Panasonic TVs, looking much greyer, they're still deeper than those of most if not all similarly affordable LCD TVs. Furthermore, dark scenes also look evenly lit from corner to corner, with no patchy light clouding of the sort seen with many edge LED TVs.