And now to reveal that aggravating flaw mentioned right at the start of this review: image retention.
Basically, throughout the few days that I had the 50PK790, my use of it was constantly blighted by extremely distracting residual ‘echoes’ of bright, colourful image elements hanging around over subsequent images – sometimes for as much as an hour at a time.
And before you ask, no, I’m not talking about a phenomenon that only happens if I leave the ”Sky News” logo playing uninterrupted for a good few hours. Even bright image content that’s only been on screen for a few seconds can still be clearly, annoyingly visible on the next few frames, especially if those subsequent frames are predominantly dark.
The only time I ”did” experimentally leave the ”Sky News” logo running on the screen for any significant amount of time – a couple of hours, I guess – I could clearly see its ghostly outline hanging over anything else I watched afterwards for at least an hour, possibly more.
Of course, plasma TVs used to suffer quite routinely with image retention, and were renowned for falling prey to permanent screen burn if you really pushed your luck. I also know that plasma TVs are more prone to image retention during the first 100 hours or so of their life, so I’d expect – though can’t guarantee – that the problem will reduce as the 50PK790 gets older.
But even so, there’s simply no getting round the fact that the retention problems on the 50PK790 are troubling even by old plasma standards, and shouldn’t exist to anywhere near this extent on a 2010 plasma model. And before you ask, I was so concerned about the problem that I ordered a second model from LG’s new range, the step-up 50PK990, and found that this suffered with the same problem, albeit to a lesser extent.
This really is a hugely frustrating issue that for me – as someone who hates anything that distracts me from what I’m supposed to be engrossed in watching – spoils what might otherwise have been a potential ‘TrustedReviews Recommended’ TV. Sigh.
For the record, the audio the 50PK790 produces to accompany its nearly-great pictures is above average. There’s not as much bass as I’d like, but this is a common flat TV failing, and at least the 50PK790 does better than many rivals at presenting an open, detailed, distortion-free mid-range that seldom feels underpowered.
If you’re a patient sort willing to put up with the 50PK790’s image retention problem for a good many hours after you first get the TV, then presumably – hopefully?! – your patience will be rewarded with a really good all-round picture performance once the retention problem has gone.
But why should you have to be patient with LG’s plasma TVs when similarly accomplished TVs from other brands work fine straight out of the box?