Test Report: LG 50PM9700 3D Plasma HDTV Page 3

Measurements

Spectracal’s CalMan Professional monitor calibration software (spectracal.com) was used during the calibration and measurement process. See PDF link for a complete report with detailed pre- and post-calibration results.

The LG50PM9700’s THX picture preset delivered a fairly accurate grayscale, averaging 6,268 kelvins through its full brightness range. Adjustments made in the ISF Expert mode’s 20-step white balance menu improved that average to 6,445 K. Primary and secondary color points measured almost spot-on the HD standard in THX mode, though I was also able to make slight improvements to secondary color point accuracy using ISF Expert’s CMS adjustments.

Gamma in THX mode measured very close to the 2.2 target, and I got similar results when the high gamma preset was selected in ISF Expert mode. Measuring contrast ratio on the LG was problematic due to the set’s entering a “zero emission” state when displaying a full black (0 IRE) signal. (There were occasional instances — fades to and from black between scenes in 2001: A Space Odyssey, for example — where this phenomenon created a noticeable “pop” effect.) The workaround I settled on was to forgo my normal Sencore test pattern generator and measure black using a full-field pattern from the THX Calibrator Blu-ray Disc. Since this pattern includes a small white “0%” graphic in the upper corner, the idea was to trick the LG’s panel into not going completely “dark” when displaying black.

Black level measured thusly in ISF Expert mode was 0.017 footlamberts (ftL), while a full white window pattern measured 35.9 ftL. This yielded a contrast ratio of 2,112:1 — a result that pales, literally, in comparison to the Samsung and Panasonic plasmas I tested earlier this year. In THX mode, I got nearly the same contrast ratio results.

Motion-resolution tests revealed 600 lines, both with TruMotion on and off.  (The processing on this TV doesn’t have any apparent effect on motion blur; its purpose is to reduce judder from 24-fps content.) TruMotion does add an overly smooth-looking “Soap Opera effect” to all settings, save Custom, however, where you can adjust the actual level of de-judder processing to a point where it’s barely noticeable.

The LG passed all high- and standard-def film and video deinterlacing tests. Its Noise Reduction settings proved effective at all steps, with only a slight amount of detail loss when the High mode was engaged — A.G.

Bottom Line

LG’s 50PM9700 is another solid contender from a company that clearly takes plasma TVs seriously. It offers very good picture quality, costs less than last year’s high-end model, and comes with the same Magic Remote and Smart GUI that currently lead the pack when it comes to alternative forms of user/TV interaction. The only thing that stands between me and a unqualified endorsement for the 50PM9700 is the competition. For a bit less money, you could get Panasonic’s TC-P55ST50, a non-THX model that offers better contrast but less accurate color. For a bit more money, you could buy Samsung’s PN51E8000, which would give you better overall picture quality, 3D included, though with a less elegant Smart TV implementation. Which one to choose is a tough call — it will ultimately depend on what features you find most important — but the 50PM9700 deserves to be on your short list of plasma models to check out.

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