LG Infinia 50PX950 3D Plasma HDTV

Price: $1,800 (3D glasses: $130/pair) At A Glance: THX 3D certified • Superb color and resolution • Poor black level

THX Goes 3D

I was wandering through the Magnolia section of my local Best Buy the other day when I struck up a conversation with a visitor from Oregon. She had recently bought a 42-inch LCD set. I asked her why she didn’t consider a plasma. She thought for a moment, and the first thing that popped into her head was that someone had told her that plasmas could break if you shake them. A vision of our Sacramento Governator jiggling a 70-pound plasma like a pair of maracas as he bossa-novas down the capitol steps for the last time quickly passed. I assumed she meant a plasma could break if you bump it.

That’s a new one on me, but plasmas have received more than their share of bogus publicity. Like most HDTV manufacturers these days, LG pays the bills with LCD sales. But it still makes plasmas, and the Infinia 50PX950 is one of its two new plasma designs, along with a 60-inch sibling, the 60PX950.

The PX950 series is the first set to receive THX 3D certification. Before you argue that there are already 3D models on the market that carry the THX seal of approval, I’ll note that those sets were certified only for their 2D performance. With the PX950 series, THX adds its imprimatur for 3D.

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The 50PX950 offers a full set of inputs, including four HDMI ports and two USB connections for viewing photos and videos or listening to MP3 music from an external USB storage device. There’s also a LAN terminal for a wired link to your home network. An optional Wi-Fi USB dongle and a Wireless Media Box offer wireless HDMI connectivity. We tested the latter in our June 2010 review of the Infinia 47LE8500; it will not pass 3D wirelessly.

It’s hardly a surprise that the 50PX950 offers a wide range of Internet features, including downloading from Yahoo, Netflix, YouTube, VUDU, and more. There’s a variety of widgets that offer news, weather, sports, and finance, plus several video games are pre-installed in the set’s firmware.

The backlit IR remote is similar to those we’ve seen on other recent LG sets. It’s a good one, although it was too easy to make a wrong entry on the crowded center cluster of navigation, enter, and other nearby buttons.

An additional thin, narrow RF Magic Motion remote control acts as an air mouse. While its capabilities are limited compared with the main remote, it offers access to many frequently used controls. To rip a line from my recent review of another LG set, this air remote is “unique, slick, and very Harry Potter.” Be warned: If you have preteens in the house, you’ll have to pin them to the ground to get it out of their hands.

Don’t expect the LG’s audio to satisfy as a decent music and/or home theater sound system. It’s about average on the LCD or plasma set audio scale: serviceable at best.

The extensive, 200-plus-page owner’s manual is provided only on CD-ROM, together with a more limited 40-page printed setup manual. Both include the usual tedious warnings about 3D. Irritatingly, some of these come up on the screen every time you choose a 3D mode, even recommending that you take a 10-to-15-minute break from 3D watching every hour. Yeah, that will work great with a two-hour movie or a three-hour football game.

The LG has a variety of selectable aspect ratios (Just Scan is your best choice for HD material), but there’s no PiP or PoP feature. LG’s optional 3D glasses are priced at $130 per pair; none are included with the set.

A Picture Wizard menu offers images to guide you through setting the basic picture controls (LG is big on wizard menus and magic remotes this year). A good setup disc will get you slightly closer to the correct settings, but this feature comes surprisingly close and is a boon for the average user. That’s good because out of the box, the set was in a horrid-looking Vivid mode.

LG Electronics USA
(800) 243-0000