LG 50PZ950 3D plasma TV

The LG 50PZ950 is big and beautiful, but a bit complicated

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LG 50PZ950
  • LG 50PZ950
  • LG 50PZ950
  • LG 50PZ950
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Low price for its size and quality
  • Very good image quality
  • Generous feature set

Cons

  • May be too much TV for some users' needs
  • No built-in Wi-Fi
  • Setup guide needs work

Bottom Line

The Infinia 50PZ950 has very good image quality and an excellent array of features, but this 50-inch plasma set needs built-in Wi-Fi and a better setup guide.

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Internet-Connected TV, Basic Setup, and Onscreen Menus

The Infinia 50PZ950 can access the company's Internet-connected LG Smart TV platform. LG Smart TV contains a Web browser for accessing the Internet directly, plus several preinstalled apps, including Cinema Now, Facebook, Hulu Plus, MLB.tv, Netflix, Twitter, and YouTube. You can find and download additional apps from LG's app store. The Magic Motion remote comes in especially handy with LG Smart TV — it's a treat to be able to point and click in apps, rather than having to use a joypad to move a "mouse" across the screen step-by-step. In case you still long for a keyboard, LG offers a free QWERTY keyboard app that you can download for your iPhone or Android device.

LG's initial setup wizard is quick and perhaps a little too simple. It covers channel setup and nothing else. You can't even connect to the Internet until you plug in an ethernet cord or open your Wi-Fi dongle; perhaps that's why LG skips all the extras. Once you're set up, the onscreen menus are easy to navigate, though a bit busy. Hitting the Home button on the standard remote brings up a list of apps across the bottom of the screen, as well as two columns of apps on the right side, with the picture relegated to a box on the left.

A simpler menu system features (for the most part) basic settings such as picture and audio mode. To get to this menu system, you press the "Q.MENU" (for "Quick Menu") button on the remote. This menu is much better-laid-out, and it appears unassumingly across the bottom of the screen. You can use the Quick Menu to scan for channels or change your Picture or Audio mode. If you want to make detailed changes to your picture or audio, however, you'll still have to go through the Home menu.

To get to the main setup menu, you must open the Home menu and select Setup. Here you can change real picture settings — such as brightness, contrast, sharpness, color, tint, and color temperature — and advanced settings. You can also adjust your 3D settings, balance your speakers, adjust your bass or treble, and find all of the usual parental lock controls and miscellaneous options.

Testing

In our jury testing, the Infinia 50PZ950 scored fairly well. All of our testers agreed that the set had consistently good picture quality in both 720p and 1080i "over the air" transport streams. The 50PZ950 also did a good job of DVD upconversion — though in our Phantom of the Opera scenes, colors and skin tones sometimes looked slightly off. The television scored poorly in our motion test for diagonal panning, as the picture looked very blurry while moving across the screen. On the other hand, it scored pretty well in our horizontal-panning motion test.

The 50PZ950 supports active-shutter 3D, and ships with a pair of active-shutter glasses. The glasses are fairly comfortable and not too dark, though they may give you a headache if you wear them while other lights are on in the room. The 50PZ950 looked very good in 3D, with plenty of picture depth, and fast-moving scenes displayed fairly smoothly. If you press the Q.MENU button while watching a 3D picture, you can access the 3D menu, where you can adjust the picture size, picture depth, 3D viewpoint, and picture balance, and switch L/R to R/L (useful for different 3D media formats).

Audio on the Infinia 50PZ950 sounded quite good as well. The maximum volume is very loud, and the system's virtual surround-sound option does an adequate job of replicating real surround sound. The sound occasionally lacks depth, but it's scarcely noticeable. Among the few audio presets are Music, Cinema, Sport, and Game.

Conclusion

The LG Infinia 50PZ950 is a good-looking 1080p HDTV with pretty good picture quality. The LG Smart TV platform, Magic Motion remote, and optional iOS/Android QWERTY keyboard app make this television tempting for people who want to do more than just watch TV. For people who aren't looking for additional options, however, the TV may be too complicated — the menus can be overwhelming, and the initial setup guide is barely there.

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

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