Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that Panasonic is not the only brand still making plasma TVs. Samsung and LG both still ship reasonably fulsome plasma ranges too. But unlike Panasonic, the Korean brands focus their marketing attentions almost exclusively on their LCD and especially LED-lit sets.
In our opinion, this is a mistake, for plasma technology still has a great deal to offer - especially, it’s turned out, in the new 3D age. Panasonic and Samsung have both delivered 3D pictures from plasma screens that have been markedly superior - at least in terms of the dreaded crosstalk noise - to anything witnessed from an LCD TV. And now, as we’re about to discover, LG is continuing this theme with its first 3D plasma TV, the 50PX990.
The 50PX990 gets off to an eye-catching start with a very fetching design. It sits right at the top of LG’s plasma tree, and so enjoys LG’s premium Infinia design complete with a glass top-sheet to give the TV a single-layer finish.
The black bezel is strikingly minimalistic and glossy too, as well as being distinguished by a touch of blue in its extremities. This blue extends into the lovely transparent neck of the TV’s exceptionally good-looking desktop stand too, with finishing touches coming from the set’s impressive slenderness for a plasma TV and the tastefully illuminated logo and buttons along the bottom edge.
The 50PX990’s uncompromising status is also evident in its connections. For a healthy four-strong HDMI count is joined by fulsome multimedia support from a D-Sub PC input, an Ethernet port and USB ports. What’s more, the Ethernet port delivers a full suite of functions, from supporting a built-in Freeview HD tuner through to streaming files from a DLNA PC and accessing LG’s NetCast online platform.
The USBs can play back JPEG, MP3 and even DivX HD video files, as well as making the TV Wi-Fi capable via a dongle. A dongle which is included with the TV as standard, rather than only being an optional extra.
Another key ‘accessory’ found in the 50PX990’s box is a single pair of LG’s active shutter 3D glasses. Obviously only getting one pair runs counter to the supposedly more social nature of 3D viewing - and it’s impossible to ignore the fact that some other brands now give you two pairs of 3D glasses with their 3D TVs. But there you go. Guess you’ll just have to factor in £100 for each pair of further glasses you need - something that’s not actually that nightmarish given that we’ve found the 50PX990 going for under a grand.
While we’re on the subject of 3D, it’s high time we pointed out that the 50PX990 is the first 3D TV we’ve seen that’s had its 3D performance officially endorsed by independent quality assurance group, THX. In deciding if a TV hits the mark in 3D terms, the THX labs assess brightness, colour saturations and, most significantly of all, crosstalk noise.