Without the 3D glasses on, though, you do start to see quite a lot of noise in the 50PW450T’s HD pictures. Things generally look a bit ‘fizzy’, and during camera pans this fizzing can be amplified to very distracting levels, especially over skin tones. There’s also a bit of judder to contend with, at least while watching 24p Blu-rays, and we occasionally spotted some brightness shifting in the picture, especially when experimenting with the Vivid preset. But then you should only even dream of using a toned down version of this preset with 3D anyway, as it’s far too aggressive for normal 2D viewing.
Regarding the lack of colour finesse noted earlier, the screen isn’t able to show small tonal shifts or gentle colour blends, resulting in pictures sometimes looking a bit plasticky and flat. People’s faces are particularly affected by this issue, especially when watching standard definition pictures.
Actually, the 50PW450T’s standard def images in general aren’t particularly great. For as well as the colour issues, edges tend to look rather jagged (something that’s actually visible to a lesser extent with HD too), source noise tends to dominate, and the fizzing video noise during camera pans increases considerably. Throw in a few rogue colour tones and a little shimmering noise over finely detailed objects like people’s hair, and you’ve got a standard definition picture which, while not perhaps as horrible as we’ve made it sound, certainly does feel very much the product of an extremely cheap plasma TV engine.
The 50PW450T performs rather better sonically, producing a quite open, distortion-free soundstage that manages a bit more bass than most flat TVs without leaving vocals sounding overwhelmed or trebles sounding either over-bright or harsh.
Unfortunately, though, there’s one more failing of the 50PW450T to cover before we wrap up: its input lag. Even using the set’s game mode we found that the 50PW450T took 100ms longer to produce a picture than our reference BenQ XL2410T gaming monitor. This level of input lag is easily enough to negatively affect your gaming performance, and is way higher than the input lag figures of any other 2011 TVs we’ve tested aside from, um, LG’s own cinema 3D LCD models.
The 50PW450T is so ridiculously, jaw-droppingly, incomprehensibly cheap for a 50in plasma TV that its ability to make HD sources look pretty good just about gives a raison d’etre, and saves it from scoring a mark lower than the ‘six’ overall score it’s ended up with.
If your TV diet is mainly standard def, though, or especially if you were thinking of buying the 50PW450T for its 3D capabilities, then believe us when we say that it is most definitely not the must-have bargain we'd hoped it might be.