Design & Features
Moving around the back of the PK790 and we are met with what should be considered the bare minimum of source input connections on a modern flat panel. Here we have 4 HDMI inputs along with one Scart, component, VGA/PC as well as a LAN connection. There is also an RS232C port and on the side of the TV we have two USB2.0 slots. So connectivity will not be a problem for the vast majority of users.
Next up is the remote supplied with the PK790 and we start to see where some costs have been cut. Whilst this is a well laid out design from LG and is logical and easy to use, the feel of the remote is undoubtedly cheap plastic. With the PK790 being aimed at the mid-end of LG’s 2010 plasma range we find this little cost cutting exercise understandable, if a little disappointing.
Where the PK 790 definitely scores highly is with the introduction of a Freeview HD tuner as well as LG Netcast networking and SD card slot playback. All of these features are just as relevant in 2011 as they were last year, so if you decide to go with this 2010 vintage Plasma you will not be missing out on that many new features. And if you want the new 2011 Smart TV software this can be added via the Smart TV upgrader box, which will be a separate accessory this year.
Menus & Setup
One feature that does get overlooked on the LG line of TVs is their picture wizard set up tool. This is an excellent (and accurate) way for end users to set up the Brightness, Contrast, Colour and Sharpness controls without hunting for test patterns, as the system provides them on screen for you. This is the best implementation of this kind of set up walk through program we have seen and it should be used by all owners to get the TV set up correctly for your room.
We found that THX mode did offer the most accurate as possible settings for ideal movie and TV viewing, but there were a few little niggles.
Moving to the colour gamut, we are looking for the TV to match the Rec.709 HDTV standard here which should see the colour points line up with the boxes at the edge of the Rec.709 triangle in the CIE chart. Here we find some of the short comings of the PK790, which are not major errors, but are just short of what we are ultimately looking for. Red has a hue and saturation error added to slightly high luminance which is the most major of the errors seen. There are errors with the secondary colours, which we may be able to improve slightly when we calibrate the greyscale. This is not that bad of a chart given some other HDTVs we have tested, but we can maybe balance out some of the more major issues and keep luminance in check. This is important as a high luminance will override the saturation and hue settings.
Overall, the THX mode on the PK790 is not as accurate as similar presets on other TVs we have tested, but it will give users the most accurate greyscale and colour performance available without a professional calibration.
As explained above, we could have left the CIE results close to where they were in the out of the box measurements. However, with the corrected greyscale this brought the secondary colours back to where we would like to see them. There are still errors here, but what we tried to do was balance the results out so we had acceptable luminance levels and other errors in check. This provided pretty good accuracy, on screen, and we would be astonished if any viewer would be able to see the small errors here (unless there was a side by side comparison with a reference screen). Overall, given the price point and performance of the panel here, we were very happy with the end results.
One of the reasons we took so long with the PK790 review was the fact that it did have a bug with sharpness being added behind the scenes to HD material. Thankfully this is now a thing of the past, with the 790 producing excellent HD images with no forced sharpening going on.
We fully tested the PK790 with our vast suite of processing tests and with SD material the LG managed good scaling of the image with no obvious ringing or haloing to edges. Images, depending on the source were fairly sharp and well detailed with only heavily compressed DTV channels looking a little ropy. Motion resolution was also very good in SD and HD with solid lines on Football pitches with no signs of image break-up. 24p was also handled correctly with no signs of induced judder from the PK790.
Gamers out there can probably pass on the PK790 which returned an estimated lag time of over 45ms. This is rather high for the competitive player and it was roughly the same result in all picture modes.
As the PK790 is a plasma screen it has a varible power consumption depending on the picture modes used and the material being viewed. We measured 135W with a 0IRE pattern, 267W with a 50IRE pattern and 310W with a full white screen. Remember these are static test patterns and in a half hour viewing session in calibrated mode the LG averaged 240w peak.
So, overall the only slight let down is the lack of absolute black level performance which is not as deep as much of the competition, but more importantly everything else in the image (when set up correctly) is appealing for the money spent, with strong motion and colour performance. HD images are also now super crisp without added sharpening behind the scenes. Obviously if you are a discerning consumer with a love of films it usually falls to a Plasma for the filmic image with good shadow detailing. The LG does this to an acceptable standard but that lack of overall black level performance (which is more dark grey) might put you off slightly. As an everyday multi-use screen, however, the LG does well and at the prices it is now available at, a bit of a bargain for some.
- Excellent menu system
- ISF and THX certified
- Excellent colour accuracy when set up correctly and in THX mode
- Excellent Greyscale tracking
- Motion resolution
- Average black level performance
- Cheap remote
- Image retention is visible with heavy use of channels with graphics or gaming
- Average sound quality
LG PK790 (50PK790) Plasma TV Review
Where things start to go slightly wrong is with the black levels of the image, which are not as deep or fluid as some competition, including some of the best LCDs out there. But then again, those TVs are also far more expensive than what is on offer here with the PK790. So dark grey blacks are the order of the day here, but everything else in the image is also very appealing when set up correctly. Colour accuracy and greyscale tracking is very good and if you can’t stretch to a full calibration, the THX Bright and THX Cinema modes fulfill the day and night options fully and to a high enough standard for the mass market user. Image retention can be an issue with long term viewing of images with heavy graphics or with gaming. However this should disappear over time naturally. I only found it slightly annoying on about two occasions in my two months of viewing on the PK790.
Overall, the PK790 offers an appealing set of features and a decent stab at image accuracy and blacks. It is not the best, by far, in that department, but as an all-rounder - and at the now reduced pricing it is available at, it is perhaps worthy of your attention in a demo.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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