LG 50PG20

The LG 50PG20 is the company’s least expensive 50-inch plasma, competing against similar entry-level models from Samsung and Panasonic. It doesn’t have the 1080p resolution of higher-priced plasmas, but we didn’t really miss that extra detail. What we did miss with this LG, namely deep black levels and more accurate color, causes us to prefer the panels of those other brands in terms of pure picture quality. The 50PG20 has a lot of picture adjustments and slick styling, however, and all told it still outperforms no-name budget plasmas.

We liked the looks of the LG 50PG20, especially considering its price. The glossy black frame, which is as thin as we’ve seen on any consumer 50-inch plasma, has sleekly rounded corners and the bottom angles back to provide an understated visual accent. The speakers are concealed under the bottom of the cabinet and face straight down. The only interruption of the gloss comes courtesy of an LED power indicator near the silver, rounded power button, and the LG logo.

Including the matching, rounded, nonswiveling stand, LG’s 50PG20 50-inch plasma measures 48.2 inches wide by 33.4 inches tall by 14.3 inches deep and weighs 92 pounds. Without the stand, it shrinks to 48.2 inches wide by 31.1 inches tall by 3.4 inches deep.

LG’s remote control is a bit disappointing. We found the cluster of similar buttons around the cursor control difficult to differentiate without constantly having to look down at them. A little illumination would have gone a long way. Unlike the remote of previous LG TVs, about which we complained, the 50PG20′s remote actually has a dedicated “ratio” key to toggle between aspect ratio settings on the a “Quick Menu.” The remote can command three pieces of equipment other than the television.

The company has completely overhauled its menu system from last year, and the changes are mostly for the better. The stark black-on-light-gray menus are legible and large, and we liked that the input menu, which is arranged horizontally, grouped active inputs near the left where they were easy to select quickly. We would have liked to see text explanations accompany menu items, and navigating the extensive Expert menu can be quite tedious, but overall we liked the simple arrangement. We also appreciated the Quick Menu, which allows control of aspect ratio, picture presets, and other options without having to deal with the full menu system.

Source / Complete Review on CNET.com