As we would expect with a high-end TV from LG, the 50PZ950 carries the endorsement of the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF). This means it’s got an impressively fulsome suite of picture calibration tools, including gamma settings and colour and white balance management controls. There’s even a filter system that lets you just show red, green or blue in the picture to aid with colour measurement and fine tuning.
There’s further endorsement, too, from THX, which has officially approved the set’s 3D and 2D picture quality standards - as well as providing handy THX picture presets that we recommend that you use unless you’re getting the ISF in or you feel like spending some time yourself tinkering with the many options available (as most of the other presets aren’t particularly helpful).
The 50PZ950 ships with not one but two remote controls. One is a standard LG affair, which is perfectly respectable as such remotes go. But the other ‘Magic’ remote is much more interesting, as it offers a completely different approach to controlling your TV that combines gesture control with just pointing the remote at the screen to select the onscreen options you want. This approach won’t suit everyone, but we’re confident that some people will find it much more intuitive than the normal remote approach.
Turning finally to the 50PZ950’s screen specification before checking out how it performs, our most important findings are that it has a full HD resolution, 600Hz sub-field driving (for enhanced motion reproduction and general stability), and most promisingly of all, a built-in ‘TruBlack’ filter to deliver an enhanced contrast performance.
Unfortunately, though, this filter doesn’t produce quite the degree of black level depth we’d hoped it would. While watching 2D, there’s a slightly grey look to parts of the picture that should look black, which immediately reduces the potency of the set’s contrast performance. The greyness also obscures some of the subtle details that help give dark scenes a sense of depth.
To be fair, the 50PZ950’s black level performance is pretty respectable if compared with even a good LCD TV. But it certainly fails to impress when sat side by side with the best of the 2011 plasma TVs from Samsung and Panasonic. Panasonic’s black level response - certainly from its G series and above - in particular is in a whole different league.
It’s worth adding that the greyness is much less apparent when watching 3D on the 50PZ950, probably because of the dimming effect of LG’s active shutter glasses. But the lack of shadow detail remains.
Having started in a negative vein, we might as well get the rest of the the 50PZ950’s problems out of the way. Console gamers, for instance, will be alarmed to hear that even using the TV’s provided Game preset, the 50PZ950’s input lag figure measured over 100ms. This is almost three times higher than the worst figures we’ve recorded from almost every other brand this year, and it doesn’t take too long getting your head blown off more than usual on Call of Duty to realise that this is a serious problem.
Another concern is image retention. Ghostly echoes of bright image elements regularly stick around over subsequent dark scenes for a good few seconds after they’re supposed to have disappeared. This isn’t as overt as it was with last year’s top-end LG plasma TVs, and should diminish once you’ve used the TV for more than 100 hours or so. But it’s still a phenomenon we wish LG could get a grip on.