Happily its 2D imaging is no slouch, either. The black level advantage over the Samsung PS50C6900 becomes more pronounced with 2D fare, for instance, and leaves dark scenes feel engaging and credible.
We also noted more clearly with 2D just how impeccably sharp and detailed the 50PX990 is when showing HD material - and it achieves this without generating unhealthy amounts of noise or grain.
Motion is clear and reasonably fluid with careful/conservative use of the set’s motion processing tools, too, and colours are extremely fully saturated for a plasma TV.
Actually, at times colours during 2D viewing can look a bit over-wrought, especially where reds and some skin tones are concerned. In fact, we have a sneaky suspicion that the 50PX990’s colours have been calibrated to best suit 3D viewing rather than 2D viewing. But it doesn’t take too much time playing with the various colour management tools to make things much better.
We also need to qualify the set’s black level response, though. For while it certainly plummets deeper blacks than the Samsung PS50C6900, it falls short of Panasonic’s black level prowess, as well as the black level efforts of one or two of the best direct LED TVs.
The 50PX990‘s most aggravating picture flaw, though, is image retention. This once common plasma flaw has been more or less dealt with by other plasma brands, but we’ve found it a problem on all LG plasma TVs we’ve seen this year.
To be fair, the effect - which finds ghostly traces of bright image elements lingering for some moments over subsequent dark footage - isn’t as pronounced on the 50PX990 as it has been on LG plasma sets without the TruBlack filter. And we’d like to think that the retention issue would diminish over time, until eventually it could disappear altogether. But we can’t guarantee this will be the case.
In any case, though, we really don’t see why anyone should have to put up with such a potentially distracting problem even in the short term when other plasma brands have pretty much eliminated it.
The last picture comment to make is that our measurements suggest a little more input lag with the 50PX990 than we would ideally like - around 60ms or so. This could be just enough to fractionally reduce a really competitive gamer’s edge - though to be honest, it had little if any impact on our merely fair to middling Call of Duty skills.
Wrapping up the 50PX990’s performance with its sound, it performs exactly as we would expect a thin modern TV to perform. Which is to say that while it’s not bad with high-pitched sounds and spot effects, and can make voices sound pretty well-rounded for most of the time, it doesn’t have the raw power to avoid sounding compressed when the soundstage gets dense. There’s really not much bass around, either.
The generally very likeable 50PX990 provides yet more proof that the first battle in the 3D war has been won by plasma technology. For while its 3D pictures certainly aren’t completely crosstalk-free, they are much more watchable over a long period of time than those of any LCD TV bar, possibly, Philips’ vastly more expensive PFL9000 series.
The 50PX990 is a generally good 2D performer too, with its only really significant problems being a weak online service and distracting image retention - the latter of which bothered us enough to nudge the set’s overall mark down to an 8 from what would otherwise have been a comfortable 9.