Summary

Our Score

7/10

Pros

  • HD pictures in 3D and 2D look fine
  • Plenty of set up flexibility
  • It’s a good looking and well built TV

Cons

  • PenTouch is pants
  • Standard definition images aren’t the best
  • Some colour tone errors

Review Price £913.49

Key Features: 50in plasma TV; Active 3D playback; PenTouch technology; THX endorsement; Protective glass screen finish

Manufacturer: LG

Design and Specs

Ever wanted to stand up, walk over to your TV, pick up a huge electronic pen and scribble directly onto your TV’s screen? Um, no, us neither. But hey: thanks to new PenTouch technology on LG’s 50PZ850 telly, direct-to-TV scribbling is now a possibility. And who knows: maybe our eyes will be opened to a whole new world of TV interaction that we never even knew we wanted!

The first thing the 50PZ850 adds to our realm of TV experience, though, is a bad back. The specially toughened glass LG has had to stick onto this PenTouch 50in plasma TV makes the set weigh an absolute ton. Just as well you likely won’t be thinking of wall-hanging the thing given the need for you and your kids to be able to easily reach the screen for drawing on it.

As well as being unusually heavy, the 50PZ850 is unusually shiny. Its bezel is adorned in a distinctive and attractive metallic finish. It certainly makes the TV feel a bit more friendly and approachable than the black finishes LG usually prefers.
LG 50PZ850
Not surprisingly - and fortunately, as it will turn out - the 50PZ850 does not rely on PenTouch alone for its feature appeal. It’s also got active 3D playback, and a degree of multimedia functionality - though crucially and rather bizarrely, this latter functionality does not stretch to compatibility with LG’s Smart TV online service.

Regular readers may be surprised to learn that the 50PZ850 uses active 3D rather than the passive 3D system LG usually eulogises. But the need to apply a pen right onto the 50PZ850’s screen wouldn’t have been compatible at all with the filter that has to go across the front of passive 3D TVs. Furthermore, LG continues to say that plasma technology just isn’t compatible with passive 3D tech on account of its brightness limitations.

As a result of the 50PZ850 using the active 3D approach, you only get a single pair of glasses included for free, with other pairs costing you upwards of £70 each. This obviously doesn’t compare favourably with the provision of seven free pairs of 3D glasses with LG’s passive 3D TVs.

But of course, it’s not common for any active 3D TV to ship with lots of 3D glasses, so comparing like with like, we guess the single free pair you get with the 50PZ850 is tolerable, if hardly generous.

LG 50PZ850

With regards to the multimedia features we mentioned, the TV offers playback of a good range of photo, music and video files from USB storage devices or networked PCs (the latter via an Ethernet port that’s also on hand as mandatory support for the set’s integrated Freeview HD tuner).

As usual with LG’s plasma TVs, the 50PZ850 is exceptionally well-stocked with picture calibration tools, including white balance adjustments, a colour management system, and gamma controls. As a result, it has the support of the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF), who will come around and professionally calibrate the screen for you - so long as you pay them for the privelege, of course!

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