For starters the 50PX4D – perhaps thanks to the XD Engine – does a sterling job of realising all the wonderful little fine details that make high definition sources so special. In fact, high definition pictures look as textured, three-dimensional and clear as we’ve seen them on any 50in plasma TV, irrespective of price.
The detailing aspect of the XD Engine’s capabilities makes standard definition sources look sharper than usual too – even the notoriously soft and fluffy-looking broadcasts received by the onboard digital tuner.
Next, while we still feel 10000:1 is deeply optimistic as a contrast ratio claim, there’s no denying that the 50PX4D’s black levels are strikingly good for a flat TV. This means that dark scenes like, oh, almost the whole of Alien, remain pretty much entirely free of the flattening ‘grey mist’ effect that afflicts dark scenes on less able flat panel TVs. What’s more, the LG’s darkness isn’t empty; tucked away in even the blackest corner can still be found some subtle traces of shadow detailing, helping make pictures seem more three-dimensional and solid.
Yet more unexpectedly welcome news comes from the 50PX4D’s general suppression of three still-common plasma technology complaints: fizzing pixel noise over dark areas; fizzing picture noise over horizontal motion; and colour blends that appear in stripes rather than smooth gradations. Not having to put up with these nasties really helps you forge a closer connection with whatever you’re watching.
When it comes to colours, the 50PX4D is also capable of great things. With high definition, hues across the colour spectrum look dazzlingly rich and, for the most part, natural in tone.
However, colours also introduce the first of a relatively small group of niggles, as we find the naturalism of the 50PX4D’s tones and its vibrancy dropping off more than we’d like to see while watching poor-quality standard definition sources.
Niggle number two concerns the way high definition pictures sporadically seem to flicker a touch, while number three is the appearance of faint traces of MPEG blocking noise while watching the HDMI input.
The 50PX4D’s sound, like its pictures, is way better than we’d expected from such a cut-price TV. Bass levels are reasonably deep, well controlled and convincing; voices are always clear no matter how OTT the rest of a sound mix might get; and the soundstage is brought to life by oodles of harshness-free treble detailing.
Don’t be put off by the crazily low price: with the 50PX4D you for once get a hell of a lot more than you pay for. In fact, if you can take its slight standard definition weaknesses out of the equation by feeding it a predominantly HD diet, it’s borderline irresistible.
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