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LG has done a great job in recent years of providing its TVs with exceptionally comprehensive set up tools, which here results in endorsements - and picture presets - from both the THX group and the Imaging Science Foundation.
The sort of tools available to these professional - and you amateur! - calibrators include an extensive colour management system, as well as gamma adjustments, and all manner of switchable small-fry picture processors such as dynamic contrast and colour boosters.
While this all has the potential to make the 50PK790 quite complicated to use, in fact it’s a breeze, thanks to a superb GUI that’s easy to follow and careful to make sure you only need to delve into its options as deeply as you feel comfortable with. There’s even a little Picture Wizard feature that generates a few test patterns and guides you through how to use them to make your picture look better.
Aside from the 50PK790’s use of a 600Hz sub-field drive engine similar to that sported by Panasonic plasma TVs, the only other, slightly curious feature worth mentioning is a small collection of ultra-basic games tucked away on internal memory. Though to be honest, these games are so ultra-basic that it’s hard to imagine anyone older than three actually playing them for more than five seconds.
The 50PK790’s picture quality is for the most part a big improvement over the slightly disappointing efforts of many of its previous plasma generation.
Especially impressive is how much deeper blacks manage to get when the TV is showing dark scenes. There’s only the faintest trace left of the quite pronounced greyness I’d noted on last year’s models, leaving dark scenes looking natural, layered, detailed and dynamic.
It should be said that the 50PK790’s black levels don’t quite keep up with those of Panasonic’s recently reviewed TX-P42G20B, but that doesn’t stop them from rating as excellent by affordable flat TV standards.
I also found the 50PK790’s colours to be far superior to those of LG’s previous plasmas, since this time they combine LG’s trademark punchiness and vibrancy with much more accurate and subtly differentiated tones. These tones hold up markedly better than they did on last year’s models, too, when you switch to a standard definition feed - though there’s still room for improvement here.
Next, the 50PK790’s pictures are phenomenally sharp with HD sources, especially since the accuracy with which proceedings are mapped to the screen’s Full HD pixel count isn’t disturbed by any significant motion blur. There’s only the tiniest trace of judder, too - and what judder there is actually looks pretty natural to my eyes.
There seem to be less obvious processing side-effects to the set’s motion processing as well, making it an easier choice to leave the ‘Film Mode’ on more or less permanently.