It’s fair to say, then, that the 50PJ350’s pictures are far from classics. But they do benefit from a couple of key benefits related to its use of plasma rather than LCD technology. Black levels, for instance, are reasonably deep while still delivering good shadow detail. We’re not talking about anything even close to the black levels produced by Panasonic’s best plasmas, or even LG’s own top-end plasmas. But within the context of its price point, dark scenes certainly look more watchable than they would on arguably any really big LCD-based screen at a similar price level.
This dark scene advantage is reinforced, moreover, by the fact that the image doesn’t lose contrast like most LCD TVs do if you have to watch the TV from an angle.
The 50PJ350 also outguns cheap LCD screens by delivering motion that looks clean and authentic, rather than blurred and juddery. Studying motion also revealed only minimal evidence of the sort of dotting noise – particularly over skin tones – that we might have expected to see from a plasma TV that looks as otherwise dated as this one. Interestingly, the 50PJ350 additionally seems less prone to image retention than LG’s flagship plasma sets – a result, we suspect, of its pictures not having nearly as much dynamic range.
The surprisingly heavy-duty build quality of the 50PJ350 seems to help it produce a more convincing audio performance than most cheap flat TVs. There’s a nicely rounded and open feeling to the set’s mid-range, created by a combination of decent raw power levels and a pleasingly wide frequency range that even extends to – get this – a solid slice of bass. Wonders will never cease.
The only downside to the audio is that oddly its seems occasionally out of sync with the pictures. But we’d say you’ll only likely notice this if there’s also a slight sync issue from the source you’re watching.
There’s no getting around the fact that overall, the 50PJ350’s pictures feel like something we’d have expected from an entry-level to mid-range plasma TV a couple of years ago. Particularly when it comes to the orangey undertone to colours and the overall soft finish, even to HD material.
But while this clearly gives you an incentive to spend more if you can, especially if you want to see HD firing on all cylinders, it doesn’t stop the set from being a great way for people without lots of money to make the leap from ‘TV’ to ‘home cinema’.