Although a 1080p panel is a nice thing to have, resolution is not the final deciding factor in picture quality, especially when viewing distance is taken into account. If the LG 42PQ6000 can score big in other areas, then it could be just the ticket for buyers who want a flat panel TV, but aren't heavily interested in squeezing every last pixel's worth of detail from HDTV sources. Let's see how it does...
The back of the TV features 2 HDMI inputs, 2 SCART terminals, Component video inputs, an RF aerial input, and a PC "VGA" input. The side panel features a USB input, a third HDMI input, as well as legacy AV inputs (S-Video, Composite Video, and Stereo audio jacks).
Menus & Setup
The PICTURE menu (which, like all other menus, is represented clearly with an on screen graphic) includes control over Aspect Ratio (with handy illustrations explaining what each setting does), Energy Saving, and Picture Mode. This control lets you pick from presets such as Vivid, Standard, Cinema, etc., and most importantly for us, there are the "Expert1" and "Expert2" modes at the bottom the list, which unlock the full range of picture controls. (Interestingly, the "Sharpness" control also changes from a single control into two separate Horizontal and Vertical sharpening controls, which is nice to see, but not essential).
The next two screens feature user-accessible Greyscale controls, and a Colour Management System, which together give an excellent level of control which we're delighted to see, especially on one of the company's cheaper sets. The Colour Management System allows for control over the Colour (Saturation) and Tint of the six primary and secondary colours. Full control over Colour Saturation, Tint and Brightness would be ideal, but in the past we've not felt too hurt by this limitation after seeing the end results of calibration.
Measurements confirmed the excess blue, and also revealed a fairly high imbalance at the bottom end. Hopefully, with calibration, we can straighten this out and get a consistently realistic colour of grey from the dark shades to the bright ones.
Colour, on the other hand, wasn't as visibly off as some of the "Wide gamut" LCDs I've seen. Reds and greens seemed to be just about correct, for example, rather than appearing Crayola-tinted. This display does feature a "Wide" colour space mode, but "Standard" is the one which brought us closest to industry standards. Measurements revealed that colour points were just about right, but some colours were lacking in Luminance - most noticeably with green. This meant that while grass (to reach for the most obvious example) looked saturated enough, green areas were visibly dimmed. LG's controls will hopefully help us correct this issue.
Another issue was that the Tint control did not allow us sufficient range to fully correct the hue of some colours - most notably, Cyan and Yellow. Regardless, this is a surprisingly excellent result, and was far above my expectations.
The 42PQ6000 is a great example of a display that can have its performance seriously improved with some fine-tuning. Like their other displays, LG have added value in the form of easily accessible calibration controls - an increasing trend that we wish all manufacturers would cotton onto to increase the quality of their products.
To test how well the LG 42PQ6000 can Deinterlace and Scale standard definition video – in other words, how well it can adapt SD signals to its display panel – I connected a DVD player outputting interlaced, standard-def video, and ran the usual series of test discs.
First up, the "Jaggies 2" test from the Silicon Optix HQV benchmark. This test features three rotating diagonal lines, each one at a slightly different angle. The best video processing can make all three lines look almost entirely smooth and jaggy-free as they move, with the poorest making all three look jagged. The LG's video processing performance is nearer the better end of the scale: the top two lines were smooth, but the bottom, and other areas of the top lines, showed small jaggies, indicating that the processing fell just short of cleaning up jaggies at the most extreme angles. This good result means that fine moving details in standard definition signals won't flicker too obviously.
Next, Film Cadence tests. These allow us to see whether or not the video processor in the TV is detecting Film content and processing it accordingly (processing Film content with algorithms designed for Video content causes a loss of detail and flickering in finer areas, which is obviously better avoided). The LG's video processor passes the PAL 2-2 cadence test when the "Film Mode" option is turned on in the menu. This means that Film material coming in via a standard-def (not upscaling) DVD player or TV broadcast will not suffer from this problem, which is great. The US-centric NTSC 3-2 test also passed.
Finally, Scaling. As previously mentioned, the LG 42PQ6000 uses a 1024x768 panel, which is something of an oddity in today's marketplace. Computer users might recognise 1024x768 as a 4:3 aspect ratio resolution, and wonder how such a panel can be used in a 16:9 widescreen TV. The answer to that is "Pixel Aspect Ratio": the pixels in the panel are not square, but rectangular in shape. Now, compare the resolution of this TV (1024x768) to that of a 720p source (1280x720), a 1080p source (1920x1080), and a standard-def PAL DVD/Digital TV source (720x576) and you'll notice that none of these resolutions are the same. In other words, no matter what type of video you input to this screen, it is not going to be an exact match for the panel*, so some sort of scaling is going to occur at all times. With that in mind, the TV had better do a good job of it!
Going from 576i SD to the panel's resolution, fortunately, looked very good. The SMPTE RP-133 resolution test chart, which features small, single-pixel details, looked clean and crisp, without excessive ringing or blurring (a feat we wish the current range of Panasonic plasmas could manage). And, going from 1080p down to the panel's resolution also looked about as good as could be expected. The user can select a "Just Scan" mode to eliminate overscan (the cropping of the extreme edges of the picture, where noise is sometimes found on HDTV broadcasts), meaning that degradation to images from Blu-ray will be minimal. As we'd expect, 720p video, which is a close, but not exact match for the panel, looked good.
One warning: I strongly recommend that people do not use an Upscaling DVD player with this TV. Playing PAL DVDs from a DVD player set to output 720p is going to cause not one, but two scaling operations (576i from the disc, 720p from the player, and finally, 768p inside the TV). Sending DVD pictures to the TV at 576i and letting it scale only once produces a much cleaner result. If you have an Upscaling DVD player, set it to the 480p/576p or 480i/576i mode, so that the TV – and only the TV – can take care of Scaling.
(* The exception here is if you're using a computer or dedicated video processor to send 1024x768 over the HDMI inputs, in which case the TV will display the image as-is, with no scaling).
Games were a little laggy on the 42PQ6000. Input lag is an issue that's almost unheard of with Plasma displays, so to make doubly sure that I wasn't perceiving lag where there was none, I actually measured the display against a lagless CRT. This revealed lag of around 36 milliseconds, which is a fairly small amount, but evidently not small enough to go unnoticed by especially sensitive individuals.
If you're sensitive to input lag and like to play fast paced video games, the 42PQ6000 is probably not the display for you. Otherwise, it's safe to ignore.
After calibration, I measured the power consumption of the LG 42PQ6000 with its Energy Saving mode turned on and off. The numbers refer to the measurement taken with a full black screen, a 50% grey screen, and a full white screen, respectively. We did not measure the various "Intelligent Sensor" settings, because they cause visible brightness fluctuation. As the measured results show, the Energy Saving modes certainly reduce power, in return for sacrificed contrast performance.
Energy Saving OFF: 75w, 180w, 300w.
Energy Saving "Middle": 64w, 121w, 183w.
Regardless, the slightly noisier image isn't really apparent from a few feet back. By comparison, the relatively accurate calibrated images are noticeable from any viewing distance and are one of the display's biggest strengths. For standard definition Digital TV broadcasts, the Sharpness controls had to be set very carefully: they have a very wide range, with the values around 45-52 producing suitably clear images free of excessive softening or ringing.
Video from Blu-ray Disc actually looked a lot better than I was expecting. The gap between the most detailed discs and the slightly less impressive ones all but disappeared, with most discs looking "great" rather than "wonderful". Of course, I am very, very sensitive to resolution (one of the reasons why I love Blu-ray Disc so much): other viewers of lower resolution displays have remarked that they can see no difference when compared to a Full HD set, so, as always, your mileage may vary.
Curiously, the 42PQ6000 did not indulge in motion interpolation, a problem that the higher-up LG 50PS7000 has. On that particular LG display, sending a 24p (Film frame rate) signal would cause the TV to begin calculating in-between frames to smooth out motion in Films. It's a very unnerving and unfilmic effect and on that display, we weren't given the option of turning it off. So, I'm glad that it's not present at all on the 42PQ6000.
- Industry leading calibration controls
- Picture quality (especially Colour) improves substantially with calibration
- SD video processing is serviceable
- Sleek, impressive design, with scratch-proof gloss black
- Downconversion of 1080p input to match the panel is handled quite well
- Black level performance isn't great
- More PWM noise than most other Plasma displays
- Temporary image retention may annoy some people
- Slight input lag hampers video game performance slightly
LG PQ6000 (42PQ6000) Plasma TV Review
Of course, LG's own display is not without its merits. The amount of control the company gives users is, as usual, a huge bonus, and as mentioned, it features superior SD video processing (and an arguably superior design). Although it's by no means a bad display, the LG 42PQ6000 is bettered by at least one similarly priced rival, which I'd advise you also consider.
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Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
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