Of wider interest to most people is likely the 50PZ850’s THX endorsement. For as well as being a third-party ‘seal of approval’ on the 50PZ850’s picture quality, the THX support also runs to a couple of decent - for films, at least - picture presets.
In starting to ‘live with’ the 50PZ850, we have to start with the unusual PenTouch functionality. Which immediately causes a problem, for it’s not just as simple as whipping out one of the two ‘pens’ provided and starting to scribble away.
First yo have to pop a USB dongle into your PC, and get it ‘talking to’ the pen thingies. Then you have to set up your PC screen, start the PenTouch software running, and fire up the TV’s PenTouch feature. And before you ask, our use of ‘PC’ back there is entirely deliberate, as there’s currently no support for the ever-so-slightly popular Apple Mac OS.
In short, getting PenTouch working is quite a faff, with the fact that you need to use it in conjunction with your PC being particularly crazy. After all, this merely underlines our first thought about this whole PenTouch scheme, namely: Why on earth would we or anyone else want to stand by a TV and use a cumbersome pentouch interface to do interactive stuff when we could just use a laptop or tablet computer instead?
LG’s marketing tries to suggest a ‘family fun’ angle to PenTouch. But this just doesn’t sit right with us at all. Not least because the idea of having a child standing so close to a 50in TV that they can write on it and then actually having them prod a big pen at its screen just doesn’t seem remotely sensible or desirable.
The sort of programs you can use with PenTouch include a Sketchbook, a photo editor, Microsoft Office and PDF files, and a ‘family calendar’. You can also use tablet-like ‘swipe’ motions to navigate through photo collections, and surf the Web. But the point is that you can do all of this in much more convenient and logical ways that don’t involve standing next to your TV. And any attempt by LG to suggest that they’re creating some new focal point for family fun with the PenTouch functionality is so off-beam that it’s almost funny.
But of course, it isn’t funny. Not really. Because ultimately you’re surely having to pay at least some premium for the PenTouch system, and we really don’t see why you should pay for a feature we’re pretty confident you will only use once - if at all.
What makes all this PenTouch madness all the more unfortunate is that it does its best to make you lose sight of the fact that at its heart, the 50PZ850 isn’t really a bad TV at all.
For while its picture talents never - even after careful setup - challenge the best that Panasonic and Samsung plasma TVs have to offer this year, they still have some impressive moments.
This is especially true if you’re watching HD. For the set manages to look quite sharp, detailed, colour-rich and dynamic with any decent-quality HD sources, making the most of the screen’s full HD resolution and healthy 50in size.